David Hegg | Love Can Make Us Better

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.
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By David Hegg

At some point, it was inevitable that I would opine about love. I must confess that the urge came up quite often, but I’ve always been able to stifle it. The problem is that love isn’t what it used to be. Sure, my generation still sings that “love makes the world go ’round,” “will keep us together,” and is even a “many splendored thing.” But the truth is love has fallen on tough times.  

We could blame the decay of love on the generality of our English language. While it is common parlance to say I love the Dodgers, bowtie pasta, spectacular sunsets, my wife, and my grandchildren, each of them holds a differently nuanced space in my heart. Unfortunately, love as an emotion now occupies such a broad linguistic spectrum that it can no longer stand alone. Saying you “love” something or someone now demands further explanation so those listening can understand the level of attachment and commitment our “love” indicates.  

Our society’s erosion of the commitments included in love isn’t helping the situation. With apologies to the Captain and Tennille (remember them?), love doesn’t seem to be keeping us together much anymore. Divorce continues to decimate marriages and families. And those who decide to live together without marrying fare much worse, according to multiple studies and reviews.  

Love has also been kicked out of our political arena. Acrimony, mocking, mudslinging, mean-spirited name-calling, and bald-faced lies about one’s opponents were once considered bad form for those seeking political office. But once it became clear that large numbers of the voting public could be swayed by such tactics, winning ran roughshod over ethical behavior and civility. And the proof is all around us these days. 

What we’re seeing today is the result of the slow but steady erosion of what used to be called the love of neighbor. By “neighbor,” we understood our fellow humans with whom we shared the path of life. Somehow, parents knew it was necessary to train their children to enter society equipped with respect for others, which demanded civil discourse and the desire to be useful, hard-working, cooperative contributors to society. And good parents also taught their kids that not everyone would like them, or be nice to them. Yet, the proper response was courageous self-control that refused to engage in vengeful retaliation.  

Because the concept of love today is watered down or left behind altogether, we must do whatever we can to resuscitate it. Why? Because love, that heart-filled commitment of acceptance, affection, provision and protection, is and always will be the strongest force in the universe. And it is essential that the most basic kind of love — civility and compassion for those around us — becomes more pronounced in the everyday rhythms of societal life.  

Here’s why. When you experience authentic, life-making love, it knocks your socks off. You know what I’m talking about if you are blessed enough to be truly loved. Those of us who daily find a vacation spot in the heart of someone else, be it spouse, child, or friend, have found what makes life spectacular. Those who are loved — really, and deeply loved unconditionally — understand that he who has love and everything else really doesn’t have more than she who has love. 

This column will end up shorter than usual by design. It isn’t because I’ve run out of things to say, but rather to challenge you to do something radical. Find someone you love, and tell them how much they add to your life daily. Find them, hug them, kiss them if appropriate, and thank God for reminding you of that wonderful, necessary and powerful sense of unconditional love. That’s it. The column is over, so put the paper down and get to it. Only love that is tended, nourished, exercised and expressed will really keep us together.  

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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