If one were to ask a random bystander “What is love?” it is likely more often than not that the answer would start with “It is a feeling of …“. When we think of love we often first think of the emotion of love. The feeling. But love can also be found in our thoughts and beliefs as well as our actions. These three components, actions, thoughts, and feelings form a well-known feedback loop in psychotherapy known as The Cognitive Triangle. It is shown below.
I have spoken before about the essence of our soul, for it is that which will be judged in the hereafter. But what does that mean in the context of the previous figure? Part of the answer lies in a previous post that stated actions are primarily considered over beliefs on our day of judgement. I believe the same is true of feelings. I believe a loving and merciful god allows us to feel in any manner without judgement. But when actions become abhorrent, thoughts and feelings along with a complete picture of a person’s existence will be examined in order to help render judgement.
Why the emphasis on actions over thoughts and feelings? Because actions are what change our World and affect the people around us. To borrow an analogy from a great statesman, they are the pebbles that when tossed into the sea of humanity can create ripples that radiate outward to join with others and bring forth a wave that impacts everything in their path.
The implications are stark and it conflicts with previous scripture. To illustrate Jesus Christ said:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “Do not murder”, and “anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement … You have heard that it was said, “Do not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28 (NIV)
Take it even further back to the Old Testament when Yahweh delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses. Those commandments made it a sin to covet a neighbor’s wife or goods. Not an action. But a feeling alone was considered a sin.
And now I am saying ignore these passages? Ignore these words from Jesus and Yahweh?
Yes. I am.
These words were meant for a different time. For that scripture came before sacred love. In an era of sacred love we have the freedom to think, believe, and feel as we wish. What informs my belief in this? A feeling. A feeling of The Greatest Love’s anger during delivery of the eighth message. But even Jesus Christ, despite His previously cited words, was angered in the temple at the usurers. Anger is a powerful emotion, but containing that emotion to channel an appropriate response is what is important.
As for lust. The feeling of sexual desire alone? It can represent the spark that can keep us engaged long enough for the beginnings of a fledgling love to take hold. Now certainly lust can grow to become unhealthy such as when it controls our other feelings and traps us in a world of sexual objectification and fantasy. But sexual desire alone as a sin? And then conflating such lust with adultery? Such conflation is not fair in this age of sacred love. The former is an emotion we have limited control over. The latter is an action we are completely responsible for. One does not need to lead to the other.
The Greatest Love no longer polices our thoughts or feelings. They have given us the freedom to experience the full spectrum of human emotions without judgement but with that freedom comes the responsibility to only act with love in our heart.
The cognitive cycle in the figure above makes clear that our thoughts and feelings influence our actions. But we are not mindless beasts doomed to an eternity of negative behaviors, dictated by our negative thoughts and feelings. We can break free of such negative cycles by controlling our actions in spite of our thoughts and emotions. Those positive behaviors will then feedback into our thoughts and emotions lifting them up to start a more positive cycle. We have the free will to do so but it can be challenging. It may require the help of family and friends or in more serious cases mental health professionals. And if we cannot break free of the cycle, I believe, short of mental illness, we alone are responsible for any negative actions that result. Such behaviors impact the people and World around us, and so we must be held accountable.
Consider the example of hate. Will a loving god ignore hateful thoughts and feelings assuming they never influenced a person’s actions? Is it even possible for a person with feelings and thoughts of hate in their heart to achieve the highest levels of love?
I believe it is. It may be understandable for a person to have feelings of hate toward another. But unfortunately I need to present an extremely troubling example to illustrate how the feeling of hate can emerge from otherwise loving persons. Consider the feeling we would harbor toward the unrepentant abuser and killer of our own child. A parent so grievously harmed may rightfully hate the perpetrator but would they act out in some negative way? It is quite conceivable that they would not. And so we have a situation where a person feels hate because a loved one has been grievously harmed but they have not acted on that emotion. Should they be judged negatively because of their feelings? Should The Greatest Love pass judgement on this feeling of hate alone? No. We are free to feel hate without judgement. Yes it is a powerful emotion reserved for the most extreme of circumstances, but it can also be a very human step in a healthy grieving process. All human emotions serve a purpose. To deny them is to deny our humanity. But it is how we act, and move forward, in the midst of such emotions that reflect our true character.
The above example may sound radical. Some of us have been taught from an early age that we should never hate. But I believe there are horrific circumstances where hate can be justified and in fact necessary to help manage the pain.
It is the hate that is borne of extreme pain and trauma that can be the most difficult to release. When this happens the decision to forgive is not always a choice. Even if we recognize that forgiving the perpetrator does not diminish our love for the victim the pain can still prevent us from doing so. And so if the pain blocks our path towards forgiveness what then? It is then that The Greatest Love weeps for us as They know that sometimes forgiveness cannot come. They know that sometimes even They cannot forgive.
Yes. Sometimes even The Greatest Love Themselves cannot forgive. It is an example where Their power has limits. In this case Their power of forgiveness. Sometimes the actions are so heinous, so evil, and the perpetrators so unrepentant, that forgiveness cannot come even from The Greatest Love. But hate will never be a part of Them. They will always continue to love. And I am left with the realization that even though Their love for us is unconditional, eternal, and infinite, Their forgiveness has limits. Given this divine limit, the inability of humans to forgive must not be considered an aberration of love, for we must never be held to a greater standard than The Divine.
And I believe that even Jesus Christ knew this. Why? Because after being brutalized and left to hang dying on the cross he called out to God the Father, pleading with Him: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34)“. Christ understood that even for God forgiveness was not always possible. I believe the same.
Whereas forgiveness may not come even from The Greatest Love, They will never hate. Despite this I would stop short of saying hate can be removed from all human souls. For example I am not sure anyone can give advice on how to let go of the hate in the previous example: that borne from the remorseless abuse and killing of our most precious child? When the perpetrator of such a heinous act does not even ask for forgiveness? The words of the sixth message come back to me: “How dare you judge?”.
I would certainly encourage victims of such violence to seek the help of friends, family, and mental health professionals that specialize in trauma but I also recognize that such hate is a valid emotion and not an “evil” one.
We must not feel shame for having feelings of hate under such circumstances. We certainly must not hold ourselves up to a Divine Standard that prevents any hatred ever. The Greatest Love has a complete understanding of how such evil actions come into existence. An understanding which when combined with Their infinite love prevents hatred from manifesting within Them. Both are capabilities that we cannot possibly possess, and so hate may become attached to our soul. It does not make us “broken“. It makes us human. Sometimes we have to stop focusing on fixing the “broken” victims of trauma, and instead just bear witness to their pain. Embracing such victims and acknowledging that their feelings of hate, despite any scars it may leave, at least closes an open wound that may help to make the pain bearable.
Nor is all hatred the same. When a hatred is so vast that it targets all people of a particular skin color, or ethnic group, or religious faith, or nationality, etc., then it veers from the narrowly focused hatred of a specific individual for an understandable reason, into a broad and baseless bigotry. Still The Greatest Love will never judge our soul according to our thoughts, or emotions no matter how reprehensible or ignorant those thoughts or emotions may be. The thoughts within our mind and the feelings within our heart must be ours to explore without judgement, even when they veer into malevolent corners. Within the confines of our own person all thoughts and feelings are on the table. It is when those thoughts and feelings are expressed to the outside World that we must stand back and be confident of their supposed truth. For now we are performing an act. An act of expression which can influence others. And so an act upon which we will be judged. And if that act expresses baseless hate toward a person or persons then that act will be judged accordingly.
This is what I believe.