Sunday, November 13, 2005

Love Beyond Our Own

Jesus Christ taught us that even the heathen love their own. True love, Christ pointed out, transcends the realm of our own and extends to those who are least like us (Matthew 5:46-47).

Some religious leaders have appealed to their followers' sense of righteousness by emphasizing the latter's' care for their own children. To be sure, the burdens of parenthood are considerable, some parents perform their duties better than others, and the love that we feel for our children is sublime. Yet loving our children is hardly a manifestation of Christlike love.

After all, loving our children comes natural. Many animals love their children. Evolutionary biologists consider the nurture of children as a manifestation of self-interest because parents have an interest in the propagation of their genes. Thus parenthood may well be the most moral form of selfishness but it remains an essentially selfish enterprise. That is as it should be but we shouldn't feed a sense of self-righteousness just because we love our own children.

Confusing a form of egoism as a manifestation of love, fundamentalist religious entrepreneurs have proclaimed a new enemy. Under the cloak of family values some churches are waging campaigns curtailing the human rights of our neighbors. Thus the illusion of selflessness puts us on a slippery slope of hate.

We shall overcome that hate once we acknowledge that love is about transcending differences.

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