Love – A Spiritual Midwife

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  • Philippians 4:4-7

“The German philosopher Max Scheler belongs to the philosophical movement known as phenomenology. This attempts to investigate all the phenomena of our inner experience; it is the study of our consciousness and its structures.
“Scheler says that phenomenology has tended to focus too exclusively on the intellect in examining the structures of consciousness, and has overlooked something fundamental: the experience of love, or of the human heart. He introduces the idea that love forms a bridge from poorer to richer knowledge in an essay entitled Love and Knowledge (1923).
“Scheler’s starting point, which is taken from the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal, is that there is a specific logic to the human heart. This logic is different from the logic of the intellect.
“It is love, Scheler believes, that makes things apparent to our experience and that makes knowledge possible. Scheler writes that love is ‘a kind of spiritual midwife’ that is capable of drawing us toward knowledge, both knowledge oi ourselves and knowledge of the world. It is the ‘primary determinant’ of a person’s ethics, possibilities, and fate.
“At root, in Scheler’s view, to be human is not to be a ‘thinking thing’ as the French philosopher Descartes said in the 17th century, but a being who loves.”

  • Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained

Max Scheler (1874-1928) provides a twist to the phenomenology philosophy that transcends his own thinking, perhaps.  He could be thinking that God reveals knowledge, but if I say “love,” then a wider population could accept this change in phenomenology philosophy.

Thus, in my adjustment of the Max Scheler philosophy, it is God who is the midwife, perhaps at the moment of rebirth to continue the analogy.  God is Love, thus in accepting that addition, there is no difference.

When I look back to my acceptance of Jesus Christ, I may have doubts whether it was real or just an emotional experience, until I reach the memory of the next morning.  I awoke and immediately reread what I had read in my Bible the night before.  Upon this extra reading of Scripture, after having accepted Jesus between the two readings, I kept exclaiming, “So, that is what that means?!?!”

Love, specifically God’s Love, brought great knowledge and understanding to me personally, but iy only came after an unconditional surrender.

In modern society, we have weakened the understanding of love to the point that the word, in many circles, has no meaning.  Sex is love making.  We love eating carrots with the same zeal that we love our neighbor, maybe more so.  Then there are those that do not like carrots.  For those, substitute the food you “love” the most.  We think that our pets love us when they only know how to show what we interpret as affection, so that they can get food, feel warmth, or seek comfort.  In fact, seeking comfort for the human is often misconstrued as love.

I know.  There are four Greek words for love.  C. S. Lewis wrote a book about them, The Four Loves.  There is Storge: empathy bond or familial love.  There is Philia: friend bond or brotherly love.  There is Eros: Romantic love.  And there is Agape: unconditional God love.

Even then, there are other concepts that could be blends of these.  Yet, we, who use the English language, throw the word love around too easily.

Odd, when I grew up, I only heard the word from my grandparents and not all of them.  My parents, until late in life, seemed to be incapable of verbalizing the word, even then it was difficult for my mother.  It seemed she said the word out of obligation.  And she only started saying it when “obligation” became her chief verbal topic of discussion.  The happy medium might be somewhere in the middle, tending toward saying it more than not saying it.  Not too often as to lose meaning, but often enough that it is natural to say.

But more than saying, we need to act upon it.

And as we act upon the love that God places within us, we gain knowledge as Scheler describes, but we make the world a little better in the process.

And be prepared for a backlash, even though the world “says” that they love.

“We have seen only one [perfect] man. And he was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed popular citizen. You can’t really be very well ‘adjusted’ to your world if it says you have a devil and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.”

  • C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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