Thursday, 7 November 2013

What kind of thing is Love? Force or substance?

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For a Christian, the subject of Love is one that cannot be ignored because it is supposed to be the focus of our mortal lives. 

As I wrote yesterday: The choice of salvation or damnation is a real and autonomous choice, but like other such choices is susceptible of influence - especially from Love. I believe that the Love of a Christian for others makes it more likely that those others will choose salvation. And indeed, that this is perhaps our major work in this mortal life.

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But what kind of a thing is Love - what is the best metaphor for understanding it and talking about it?

Most people think of Love as a force; somewhat like magnetism. Love is an attraction. It works here and now, when the loved entity is nearby and present.

Love has various strengths, rather like an electro-magnet. It can be switched-on and -off, as someone - for example - falls in- and out-of Love, or Love turns to hate.

And so on...

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But maybe it is better to think of Love as a substance. So that Loving someone is something like depositing or lodging this substance in another's body.

And the substance of Love is permanent - it cannot be removed.

And the substance of Love is itself wholly good.

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I imagine something rather like micro-particles of gold dust, luminous gold dust in the flesh and blood. These, as I say, cannot be removed, and therefore will accumulate in a loved person - inevitably being 'detectable', and having an effect forever.

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So that Love is something that can just happen to you - like it or not, with or without your consent - you get filled with luminous gold dust!

So Love is there, it cannot be removed: the question or choice is what to do about it.

If we consent to Love, and meet Love with Love, then I imagine the luminous gold particles would get into the blood stream and circulate everywhere in the body and soul, so that person would begin to glow and all they did would be affected by Love!

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But we can choose to cut ourselves off from the Love that is there, resist its effect, cover-up the luminosity.

The glow of that inner Love can be defiled, dirtied, dimmed by scribbling hideously over it so the light within serves to illumine the vileness on the surface; or by growing an opaque shell over it, the light dimmed right down to invisibility (although it is still there, underneath).

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Weird as it seems; one advantage to the metaphor of Love as a substance is that it makes clearer sense of living for Love when Love is an accumulation of something permanent; it makes easier sense of why we should Love others if our Love makes a significant and lasting difference to them and intrinsically benefits them; and shows us why any act of Love anywhere by anyone is valuable - permanently valuable.

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Note:  I got this idea from reading the Harry Potter book series - http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/harry-potter-co-inherence-and.html - where Love is discussed and affects the plot somewhat as if it were the kind of substance I describe above.