Warfare comes in many different forms: Total, Unilateral, Asymmetric, Limited, Guerilla, Conventional, Cyber, Psychological, Idealogical… The list goes on and on. Each form describes the particular tools necessary to wage that particular war. Bombs can’t kill an idea. Computers can’t run up a hill. Cities can’t withstand a nuclear blast. In what kind of war, then, is Love an acceptable weapon?
In the book Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis describes the relationship between two half-sisters: Orual, the eldest, who raised Psyche, the youngest. Without spoiling everything, events turn to the point where Psyche becomes alienated from her sister, living on a mountain alone in a seeming fit of delusion. Orual goes to the mountain to retrieve Psyche, but she will not come home. Psyche believes she is doing what is right. Orual then tries every argument to break the delusion, ultimately employing love. She threatens to kill herself if Psyche does not give up this farce – blaming it on Psyche’s “heart of stone” should that come to pass. In disgust, Psyche replies, “You have chosen your weapon well.” We eventually come to find that Psyche was right after all, and Orual had no real love for her sister. “Love” was just a tool, a façade for jealousy.
Love as a weapon is no love at all. It speaks like “If you loved me, you would do what I say is good.” wherever that whim might lead. “Love means that you should do [this thing that you know is wrong]!” This kind of love devours and consumes. It takes and takes. And once it has used up the object of its “affection” it has nothing to offer in return. Indeed it cannot offer anything, because it is empty. This love only kills.
Especially in recent years, but probably in all of human existence, so-called “love” has been leveraged as a weapon against people who follow God; that is to say, people who base their existence on the One who defines what love is. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19) must be for us the origin of love. This shows us the literal crux of true love – “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). If God in Christ is the epitome of love, its personification (1 John 4:10-21), then He alone should show us what love can and cannot do.
He shows us, for one, that love hates certain things. Weird, but true (Rev. 2:6). This one counterintuitive definition is a great example for why Scripture puts so much work into defining love, because “it” is often used in ideological warfare (1 John, 1 Cor. 13:1-13). Love does what is morally true. Love obeys God because God is love. Love tells people the truth. Love does whatever it can to be like the Author of love (Rev. 2:4).
A weaponized love that aims to take power over someone else is hate. True love gives, and it ultimately gives eternal life! (John 3:16-21).