Love (Essay)

Essay on Love

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
Explore the view that the key moral obligation for Paul was
Jesus' command to love. Justify your answer.
Paul presented his ethical teachings in letters to Christian communities who were facing
moral dilemmas. The theme of agapé runs through all of Paul's teachings and the
importance of this love was acknowledged by St. Augustine who wrote, "Love and do what
you want." But how important is this theme to Paul and can it be viewed as his interpretation
of the key moral obligation of Christians? This essay will explore this idea of agapé and how
central it is to Pauline Ethics.
Paramount in all of Paul's moral teachings is the theme of agapé. It is the unconditional love
that Christians should have for one another. It is a universal love that is the most important
moral obligation for Paul. He tells us that if we have not love, we are nothing. Jenkins
comments that "the kernel of Paul's moral advice is faith working itself out in love
expressed in the beautiful passage on agapé in 1 Corinthians 13." This shows that our
faith is nothing without a shared love and the verse talked about by Jenkins highlights how
central to Paul's belief love was:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is
not rude, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always hopes, always
perseveres. Love never fails."
Joseph Fletcher based his theory, "situation ethics", on this principle of love. He taught that
when faced with a moral dilemma, the right course of action is the most loving one. However,
many argue that love is a subjective term and one person's interpretation of a loving action
could be viewed as completely immoral by another (e.g. abortion).
The Christian love expressed by Paul in his teachings will dominate the Christian's view of
injury and revenge (all judgement and revenge must be left to God) will bring a new tolerance
of love, not indifference in Christian relationships and can be viewed as the control and
condition of Christian freedom. As Barclay states, "the Christian is free but bound by the
fetters of responsibility and the obligation of love." Therefore, although Christians have
been freed from the Law, they still have a duty to follow the moral standards laid out in
Christian teachings and live by an ethic of love. Moreover, love must also dominate the
Christians dealings with the truth. The truth must always be spoken, but it must be spoken in
love. As Pilch confirms the truth must never be spoken to deliberately harm our neighbour or
as a tool for revenge or snobbery. He tells us, "It is true as Greek philosopher said that
truth can be the light to sore eyes, but the hurt must never be deliberate."
Paul tells the Ephesians, "Be imitators of God." God's love, mercy and forgiveness are
unconditional he will always be there, so perhaps by saying this Paul is urging the Christians
to mimic the unconditional love of God in their own dealings with others. Furthermore, we are
shown by Paul how we are called to imitate the example of Jesus and therefore reflect the
love and equality he showed to all regardless of who they were. As Barclay states we must
"love men as Jesus loved them, and never, no matter what they do in response, seek
anything but their highest good." We must, if we are to imitate Jesus, live by the `Law of

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Fiona Donnelly 13D
Love'. Pilch claims that Jesus redeemed us out of love and "this kind of love replaces the
Torah." He is telling us that, to Paul, this freedom from the law meant we must imitate
Jesus' loving sacrifice and live our lives for the happiness and fulfilment of others.
Additionally, agapé itself was central to the moral teaching of Jesus. Paul is inspired by
Jesus' command in the "The Greatest Commandment" that love of God and neighbour are
the most important commandments.…read more


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