Generous Orthodoxy  

Sunday, February 11, 2007

First Corinthians 13 to the rescue

"Modern Love" column in The New York Times, February 11, 2007
by Daniel Jones

Each year, as [Valentine's Day] nears when we are expected to celebrate (or at least positively spin) the current state of our romantic lives, people start asking me what I, as the editor of this column, have learned about love. Surely, they assume, I’ve learned something from spending my days immersed in strangers’ relationship stories. But whenever this seeming softball of a question comes hurtling at me, my mind goes blank.

In need of an answer, I sift through hundreds of essays submitted for the column, searching for trends, clues, even a measly tip or two.... I read cheery stories of those who found love only after giving up, and darker tales of philandering husbands, rebellious children, stalking lovers, flirtatious doctors and baffling breakups.

In these accounts I found exactly one common thread: Wisdom about love is sorely lacking. Over the millennia we Homo sapiens, with our ever-evolving intelligence and sensibilities, have made great strides on many fronts (human rights! space travel!), but when it comes to love, we don’t seem to evolve so much as revolve.

Isn't this a perfect introduction to the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians? There has never been "wisdom about love" to equal it. We just need to remember that the name "Jesus" can be substituted for the word agape at every point in the famous chapter. Since human beings left to themselves revolve rather than evolve (what a nifty description of our sinful condition!), it was necessary for Emmanu-el to rewrite the story of love in his own life and death and bring us along with him into the divine life of perfect love (the doctrine of recapitulation--see Romans 6 on baptism).