Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What is Love?

During the month of February the topic of love is on everybody's mind?  Perhaps billions of dollars are spent reminding us, selling us and then consumers buying the goods of Cupid. What is this emotion, feeling, connection, virtue we call love? 

Is love a product that can be bought and sold with money or is it developed through patience, kindness and forgiveness? Why not be nice all the time, give the gift of self and buy random flowers or presents?

We know something of the shortcomings and challenges we each face as human beings. How can we focus on the potential to enjoy this emotion that each of us has a desire to experience? Where will our individual experience take us? How can something so positive take a negative turn at times? 

My personal approach to life and discovery is to understand "the why" as some say. We base much of our attitudes in life on experience. We are also exposed to philosophical, scientific or theological reasoning.  How do they connect in the light of truth?

We think life would be wonderful if we could only experience the ideals of love, but the reality is that life is a constant state of learning amid opposition and pitfalls.  Thankfully it is interspersed with joys and occasional elation. What we learn and how we then act can increase the constancy of joy and love in our lives.

Doesn't it make sense to determine the level of commitment we want to attain and the depth of our development we desire with this powerful experience we call love?  Isn't love a connecting factor in so many of the relationships that we value on the highest level of our capabilities?  How do we choose and pursue the highest level of virtues within our grasp?

Notions of Love

More songs have been written about this subject than perhaps any other. Many singers and authors are promoting a counterfeit emotion because they have failed at developing true and lasting love. They now turn fictional encounters into fantasies of fascination and ecstasy in the minds of young listeners that listen to their musical themes over and over again filling their impressionable minds with misguided musings.

Love lost or gained is a thematic element of many movies. If I could "save time in a bottle" or write an "old fashioned love song"everything would turn out okay we would sing in high school.

Some call love the most powerful force in the world.  This they say because they think it drives human passions for better or worse. It has been called crazy love, free love, love is blind. Blinded by love, and love at first sight. The sight of what? Are these really love? The world does keep us moving at a fast paced superficial level seeking something that poses as love.

Some say there are four kinds of love and others seven.  Then there are terms that describe something else such as God is love or endless love.  If this is so, then how so?

We are subjected to many forms of media portrayals supposedly depicting love. The imaginations and expressions of writers and actors that often have no bearing on reality still affect us as they float about everywhere in the popular culture.  

These entertainment notions and portrayals reduce a person's power to make lasting connections if they try to imitate them in the slightest. Skepticism and mockery rule the airwaves regarding fidelity and chastity masquerading as intelligent observations to the uninformed.

When I was a young man I thought about the emotions of love and what they might be when I became serious about a relationship. How would I know if I was in love or not?  I wasn't sure what to expect from marriage. How do feelings of affection and commitment develop?

I have learned that love is as much a discipline as it is an emotion and that love as a power is only developed when implemented as a principle of action. No magic arrows are shot into the heart, just effort and commitment from within. Where do we want love in our life?  At a superficial level or a significant level?

The Science of Love

We often say that love is in our hearts but in reality love develops in our mind. It does affect our hearts though. It is cultivated and stored in the cells of our brain in ways we hardly comprehend. In the mind it transcends the capacity of science to explain it. You only need to read a few noteworthy articles to understand how much science has discovered about the body and brain yet scientists don't understand it all.

Does what we eat and how we exercise affect our ability to love and feel loved? To know about neurochemicals, receptors and electrochemical function and the rest of the nervous system is quite amazing. There are 23,000 identifiable chemical processes in the human body.  There is certainly some possibility for variance and misfiring. 

The emotion of what we call love can and does act on our whole body. We know our heart is affected in a physical way at the sight or thought of a special person. These feelings seem to extend to all of the nerves in our body at times. Do we not also call the depression that sometimes sets in when love is lost or a loved dies a broken heart?

Like words, emotions including love are recorded and stored as electrochemical light and energy in a format more powerful than any computer.  No computer can convert information into emotion or convert emotion into a physical experience like the human experience. 

Our feelings or emotions go into action according to stimulus we might receive. We also create them by choosing to act on knowledge we gain in our associations and activities. The science of emotion is real  but I think it is a more powerful science than we understand with our elementary discoveries that look in limited spectrums?

My Opinions about Love

This blog is about exploring the relationship of temporary or mortal things in the context of eternity and the nature of our spirit.  My conclusion is that our mind is more than just our brain and is where the spiritual and mortal join for the present life. This essay just started as an opportunity to see what love really is to me so don't get hung up if you don't agree.

Even though we die, the elements of our body are still eternal as they cannot not created nor destroyed, this is a scientific fact. What about our emotions? Are they a flash of electrochemical charges or part of a more eternal process?

You can't speak of love having an eternal nature without considering some theological underpinnings. How trustworthy are the opinions and musings of social scientists and scholars with their theory and opinion based teaching and learning methods?

How does such a complex emotion and virtue develop in beings living on a micro speck planet in the Milky Way Galaxy amid an endless cosmos? Are we mere creatures of evolution as some theories and limited science suggest or something of a more eternal nature?  Both require faith to believe and to search for answers.

I personally believe that we are of divine origin, part of a never ending order of familial relationships of a higher order than most are familiar with at the present time. 

This life is school, a school where we learn about love.  Our degree depends on our desires and our willingness to recognize what we don't know and make a plan to develop and learn.  Where will we be when we graduate? The history of the world is a story of the effects of love and hate on the lives of individuals, nations and mankind.

Like all principles, matter, intelligence, truth and existence itself we need to identify the nature of the subject we contemplate. Is it eternal or temporary? When did love begin to exist?  

My views on love I have gathered from my experience in life, being married for 37 years and raising our eight children together. I adore her more than ever because of our experience together.  I am quite familiar with the love of a mother and wife and have tried to implement the love of a father and husband. It is a process not an event.

Any scientific aspects of my observations can be read in scientific articles. My theology is based on my association with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  What I say though is my own opinion. Official Church positions are here. 
See "The Family" a proclamation to the world.

The Philosophy of Love

Love, like all characteristics is developed through the decisions we make. In the crucible of life we encounter forces that exist in natural opposition to each other. We would call hate and darkness an opposite to love and light or sweet to bitter or good to evil. Love is the embodiment of all virtue and hate the summation of all vice. The development of virtue leads to love and light, any default to vice leads to hate and darkness. 

If there is such a thing as true love there will undoubtedly be false love or counterfeits as well.  If we fall in love can we not also fall out? Love is a choice we make to serve others. Without natural opposition there is no real experience for freedom of choice or emotional development. We can love others when they don't love us back.  Do we not call this unconditional love?

We develop love, other attributes and emotions by our thoughts, pondering, reading, entertainment and from mentors at home and elsewhere. This is part of the stimulus we submit ourselves to as naturally existing beings in a life experience designed for this purpose.  

How we act reinforces what we accept. We choose which stays and which goes and how it plays into our eternal development.  This is the agency associated with our individual will and freedom to act as we choose.

The Eternal Nature of Love 

The endless nature of space and the fact that eternity exists are two givens at the core of any search for truth. Our science is infantile even if it were 10,000 years old.  It is not however and the most comprehensive advancements have been made in the last 200 years. We have begun to confirm what is already a self evident truth. There is no end to space.

Traditional theology teaches that God is a one planet creator and limited to creating of inferior creatures and doing so from nothing.

Science can explain very well the organization of the body and its functions. We know how atoms come together to form a person and all other things. Matter cannot be created or destroyed.  It is not magic how a person is formed.

Philosophy can conceive some answers to live by but only God can reveal the full nature of truth.  We cannot make up our own science or theology and think that they are true.

If you don't think some part of your soul is eternal you should probably stop reading here.

If you believe the Bible for example, the scripture is quite clear that we are created male and female in the image of God. For most Christians this is a metaphorical statement and not a literal fact. Image means we look like someone. Likeness means we are like them. The pattern of creation in earth is male and female. This is where the creation of love begins and then extends to the family.

The traditional understanding is that God does not have a body and is not an actual person, but a genderless incorporeal essence of three beings in one.  Any terms relating to family are metaphorical. There is no actual father or son.  

How was our spirit created? Are we creatures, mere pawns with our existence stemming from an event 6000 years ago with new creatures coming into existence at birth? No, there is an eternal pattern of creation. It doesn't change. We look like the parents, our heavenly parents whose spiritual children we are and our mortal parents as well.  

In the eternal and infinite heavens there is no creation without both motherhood and fatherhood bound together in holy commitments. There is no fatherhood without motherhood. Only Latter-Day Saints embrace this principle in their theology.

The nature of our creation and our maleness and femaleness is a self-evident truth manifest in the earth. It is an eternal law. There is no continuation of love without this creative process. Men are nothing without women and women are nothing without men as nothing would exist without both. 

Love is the source that can lift us to our full potential. Does this love radiate from a genderless source of random creation or from eternal God's united in creation?  Scholars acting on their own accord in conjunction with certain creeds for almost 2000 years have concluded that a genderless deity created the genders. These assumptions have misguided theologians and believers for millennia.

We should love one another because we are quite literally brothers and sisters, spirit sons and daughters, children of God. Our identity is eternal. It is not a conclusion decided by philosophy. 

The life giving process that we are familiar with doesn't always take place in a union of love and respect. Children are not always welcome in some relationships.  

Most of mankind has the power to create life with few exceptions. It is given to us as a natural order and exists independent of how we might choose to develop our appetites and passions. Love is not just the base attraction among humans, nor is it random, but its counterfeits are.  

Love develops not only by serving others but serving with them.  If we don't create life and nurture it in bonds of stability then love will not develop or eventually disappear from society. 

Why did God give us the power to create life?  Because he wants us to learn to love like he does. To nurture and to bond in a natural occurring way in family units.

The law of sexual integrity or chastity guides us to the highest order of eternal relationships, whether or not our mortal circumstances provide opportunities to have children. This law is an eternal self-existing principle.

What if we don't have the opportunity to form the marriage relationship we might desire at the present time? Patience and faith still form the basis for this endeavor.  No one is denied a blessing they seek because it did not present itself in mortality. Because of the perfect love of God opportunities exist of which we have been made aware but not yet fully revealed.

The joy of love is compounded immensely in marriage with the fidelity of husband and wife...not diminished.  When we observe the law of sexual integrity, life giving powers and joys are magnified and multiplied in our lives, meaning they extend to the next life.   Our emotional investments do not go away when we die if we covenant here to keep them.

God ordained marriage for men and women and invites us to follow His pattern for the fullness and perfection of love.  This is the transcendent opportunity to serve not only each other but with each other in life and love giving opportunities.  Not just in mortality but in eternity.  

Living outside the bounds of these protections of marriage and sexual integrity causes loss of the sensitivities that allow us to develop the full potential of this eternal experience. 

Marriage and family is an eternal order of living. It is given so we can make the commitment to receive the full potential of love and it will be more than a lifetime process and it won't happen without many mistakes. This is why there is a Savior.  Our mistakes don't need to hold us back. 

Our decisions do determine our direction and ultimate destiny. This is the law of Agency and the law of the Harvest.  Eternal relationships are at the center of everything we believe in the church. Love is eternal because it exists and is perpetuated in the family unit both in heaven and in earth. Without familial creation there is no continuation of love.

God will not force us to act in a holy manner just because he does. He invites us to follow his order of love because our eternal nature can develop to its fullest potential by doing so.  This is the path of perfect and eternal love. It comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

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