The following video went viral just after Valentines day this year. It is undeniably well made, visually effective, and emotionally compelling, but utterly deceptive?
It’s hard to argue with a message that promotes love for all people; one that the Christian certainly affirms. Jesus priority command for us after all was to “love your neighbour as yourself”. (Matt. 22:39) But even in saying this the critical thinker should raise the question: “what kind of love was Jesus talking about?”
We use the word “love” so causally in our speech sometimes that it often looses the impact of its meaning, but despite our sloppy word use even we understand that the word “love” means different things depending on how we apply it. I “love” my kids, and I “love” chocolate cake; but I do not love my kids and my cake the same way. In fact, to even compare the two is ridiculous because though I am using the same word I am describing two entirely different and unrelated things. Simply put, when we use the word ‘love’ we employ one word to describe different kinds of things that are categorically distinct.
This sheds some light on the logical error committed in this video. When it presents a disabled child with her sister and says “love has no disability”, and a Hindu with a Christian saying “love has no religion”, and a gay or lesbian couple with the caption “love has no gender”, it is actually presenting three separate and distinct things and treating them as a united whole when they are not. By glossing over this fact however, through the power of images it subconsciously tricks the viewer into embracing the acceptability of one kind of love on the basis of the acceptability of another.
Ancient Greek culture clarified confusion about love greatly by using different words to describe different kinds of love. In the New Testament there were four words used for love (although broader Greek culture had as many as six). ‘Storge’ was love shared among family or kin; ‘phileo’ signified a ‘brotherly’ love shared between friends; ‘eros’ was the designation for sexual love and ‘agape’ signified the unmerited display of moral goodwill. Notably, ‘agape’ was the word used by Jesus when he commanded his followers to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:39), and it is the word used most often of God’s love for man where he demonstrates his intention for our good despite our undeservedness. As Paul puts it in Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates his own love (agape) for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Central to this video’s message of course is the cultural push to normalize homosexuality. The Christian believes that this expression of ‘eros’ love is opposed to God’s sacred purpose for human sexuality, but of course this never stops the Christian from truly loving (agape) the homosexual too. The remainder of this discussion can wait for another time. My purpose here is simply to help us guard against the uncritical acceptance of cultural messages embedded in the media all around us. Remember that all media communicates values with their underlying worldview assumptions. When these messages oppose what God has revealed to be true but on the surface seem worthy to be embraced, turn on your critical faculties and go ‘digging’ for the error. It’s there to be found.
Love is a powerful force, but to quote 1 Corinthians 13 (which is ironically embedded in the video’s background music), “love rejoices with the truth.” (13:6)