Lesson 18: Christian Love

Love and TechnologyThe seventh chapter of Faith, Hope, and Love in the Technological Society maintains that Christianity is all about God’s love overcoming the violence of this world and that everything else is commentary. It also asserts we are already in a place in Paul Wildman’s description of the techno-utopian-drift where our dependence on technology has severely distorted Jesus’ meaning. Our understanding of love has been so emasculated that violence on all levels goes unchecked in our present society.

Wildman credits this to technology creating its own ethic. Franz and I prefer speaking of this as technique rather than ethic. Technique makes measurable efficiency the standard for everything and thereby renders irrelevant the concerns of traditional ethics. Everything is judged by the results I want.

The first response is generally, “Great! Isn’t that what we want? Isn’t it all about finding the most effective way to resolve our problems?” After a little more thought, it becomes apparent, however, that love is more than problem solving. Love is a relationship in which we care for one another for sure, but defining care as “efficiently solving problems” leaves out some essential characteristics of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus describes love as an ongoing, all-encompassing relationship that brings joy to the human spirit. It features unconditional faithfulness that inherently involves compassion that is willing to suffer for the other in the relationship, self-denial that sacrifices for the sake of relationship, and forgiveness that heals when the relationship is broken. His description refuses to separate divine and human love. The two are always intertwined in his teaching.

Such a loving relationship has a transformative quality. It brings nonviolent, redemptive change to those in the relationship and extends to those outside as well. It naturally returns good for evil and consequently has the potential to make enemies friends.

Unable to measure such a relationship, the technological society reduces love into an economic commodity. The seventh chapter is filled with examples we take for granted. Most provide valuable and efficient services. Still they lack the ongoing, compassionate, transformative relationship Jesus described. For instance, most loving acts, even in the church, involve giving money to people and agencies whose names we do not even know. Charities operate on business models judged by their bottom line rather than compassion. Efficiency demands we evaluate where our money is best spent, so we evaluate who is worthy to receive it and who will make the best use of it in solving the world’s problems.

There it is again: love as problem solving. And again we must acknowledge it is one of its worthy features. Still, as we see so readily in our present society, without the personal relationship we might call solidarity, problem solving becomes a power struggle between groups with different perspectives, and we end up battling violently about whom we should love.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.