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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Security of Love: A State Essential

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (KJV).

Tough love : love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior  (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

Any love worth its salt is in a sense tough love. For it is not shallow and sentimental. I keep thinking of American politics—of the right and left—and am chagrined that the right has staked claim to tough love. In my book all real love is tough love—that's why I seldom use the word “love” alone, preferring instead “disciplines of love.”

We need to step back and consider the importance of the disciplines of love in our society. The Bill of Rights is an example of tough love. It says, in effect, that all people shall be treated in a loving fashion—they have inalienable rights. It is the job of government to secure these rights. But a moment's reflection will suffice to show that without love's active and pervasive presence in society no sword of the state however strong could long prevail. Take laws for the protection of children. Surely if parents en masse suddenly stopped loving their children, there is no realistic scenario for the state providing security that would compensate for this lack of love. Like it or not, it is undeniable that no government can fill the void left by the widespread absence of love within the state. The society is then doomed for “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint....” “Where there is no vision, the people perish....” It must be plainly understood that the security of any state in the long run rests upon the presence of love among its people. In this sense, all secure and healthy nations are fundamentally Christian nations by any other name. Whether we have “big government” or “small government” matters much, much less than whether we have a loving people. This is the ultimate bond holding together any social contract.

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