I hope this particular blog is not too personal for the reader to bare. I know there are people for whom the “L” word is either saccharine sweet or positively indecent (perhaps even especially because our movie industry insists on churning out stuff like The Wedding Crashers and 40-Year-Old Virgin). Yet I will start with the fundamental notion that love, though sexual love of course exists, is not defined by sexuality. It is true that love in the Bible is often seen terms between Husband-Wife (God-Worshipper), but this is to describe the passion of the soul for God and not to imply that anyone who experiences sex knows what it feels like to love God.
So I begin with the premise, common to the monotheistic faiths: the root of Love is God. Perhaps I first came to this conclusion reading Plato’s Symposium in High School. For Plato, of course, the root of Love is Immortality. I, however, (and I know that it sounds egotistical to claim more insight than Plato on the matter) believe it is love, because the beginning commandment of Judaism is “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.” Of course, for Christians “God is Love,” itself. Yet for the person in love with God, it is a matter of indifference whether in loving God they are loving the Being of God or the Love of God–at least on an emotional level. Maimonides says we feel God in God’s effects, and so I guess the way we most directly experience God is through our love for God, including our readings of the Torah.
Now, though this seems self-centered, I will discuss my own personal faith in the Love of God. The first trait I love in God is God’s Being Both my Father and Mother. God is my Father because he is my protector, guide, and punisher when I do wrong. God is my Mother because God gave birth to my soul, guides me, and consoles me when I am hurt and even when I do wrong and need to pay retribution. Next, God is my Friend. Why? Because we are children of Abraham, who is described as a “Friend of God.” God is the wise friend who I talk to not only when I need advice or consolation, but as somebody who hears those truths which I want to express that no other Being can understand–at least in my head. Lastly, God is Transcendent. God is a Being Whose Existence pre-exists ours and makes our existence have cosmic significance. Yet at the same time, God in a sense is more important than we are. Without God, we could not exist. Without God, we cannot know love.
Finally, I wanted to say something about the nature of marital love. This is with the admittance that I have never been married myself; I have only observed other people’s marriages–and often ones that failed. In most marriages in our country, most people marry for love. That, I believe, is how it should be. Yet what a person needs to know on entering marriage is that a human being has limits. There are some levels of understanding or sexual excitement which are simply not possible. In fact, to stretch to the extreme of what is possible can even be a kind of sickness. Though the beloved and the lover (and both wife and husband should be each at times) will not always be in love–there may be days when they have arguments, even serious ones–they should always love each other in the sense of possessing loyalty and care for one another. In this sense, it is like God’s covenantal love is an appropriate way of looking at God’s love for Israel.
Covenantal love is an appropriate way of looking at God, yet one I have always struggled with. I in fact love the imagery of Hosea about his love for his wife, the errant Gomer. Yet seeing God as a “husband”; that is hard for me. Reading God’s love, I feel a gentleness which transcends the limits of the Husband/God limitations. That said, seeing God as Father/Mother has always meant a great deal to me, perhaps even because my relationships with my mortal father and stepfather were not the best. The words, “I love you,” and “I’m sorry things happened that way,” seem to come so naturally from God’s lips. I never doubt it is God whom I am talking to when I read my Bible. I may not read everyday, but I read every once in a while, and that is like being in the Garden of Eden or celebrating a special Shabbat with the Holy One.