Love is death. Love is war. Love is not patient. Love is a battlefield.

Love is patient. Is it really? Is this what Paul meant when he wrote those words?

Hypomon is the word typically chosen as the word Paul uses here for the word patient. Most translators claim it has to do with endurance. And no one tends to ask for what? When you dive deeper into the word itself it is endurance against something. It is not some beautiful phrase singled out for a wedding service, no, Paul is talking about war here. Injustice.

And it would be too naive to assume he is simply talking about just ones own personal experience. Although this word does come up in the myth story of Job when his life falls apart. This is not pretty prose Paul is using here. It would be more akin to someone saying: when the shit hits the fan, love is the ability to fight back no matter the odds. But in Paul’s approach to love there is always a casualty. You and I. Agape love is an annihilation of the ego. Death to self. So when he says love is patient it is warning us of the initial war we will have to fight. A messy one against ourselves. The negation of self is what readys us to fight other battles.

But let’s not get consumed with the petty beauty of prose here. Ultimately love itself can only be defined in a context. For Paul for love to endure you need to go through hell and maybe with no promise of coming back and keep fighting. To experience this kind of love there will be a death of some kind.

I read Paul here in these chapters about love more like a tim burton script. For love to endure your very appendages might be lost. Lets be clear this has nothing to do with evil do romantic love here. Although the linguistic structure makes it sound like it’s poetry this is not a pretty picture Paul repainting for us.

Jacques lacan at one time defined perseverance as something that we are attempting to repress. Because we are driven by something to hide something. One universal function of the Christian narrative that is embedded into the psyche is this belief in some form of utopia or heaven. Whether here or there. If we take lacan and his theory to its end then it is not heaven Christian’s seek but rather the repression of it.

Why is it that we repress the hope for paradise? Maybe it’s because we know it might be boring. That eventually we will find out that the allure of the emerald city isn’t held together by a great wizard but rather a balding ageing man who accidentally landed in the position.

We are afraid to approach love as loss because we are afraid we won’t be able to bear it so we buy into our own fantasies.

We would rather love everyone easily than actually love someone and fail.

To quote an 80s prophet and pop star: love is a battlefield.

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  • Michael Teston

    George I think you are certainly on to something here. I have for years recoiled when others always wanted to use the 13th chapter of Corinthians at weddings. I think you’re right, it is brutal. The text about looking into a “mirror dimly” is completely relegated to the safe sidelines of life as it so often anticipates a face to face with Christ in some unknown future. To me it’s not Christ that this passage directs our gaze but to the terrifying gaze of authentic “love” in the eyes of the “lover” something most will never get to nor would ever dare desire to get to . . . to look into the face of the lover and have your reflection thrown back at you, oh my! That is horribly frightening and most relationships end when such “mirroring” happens. You’ve called it death. I think you’ve got this thing rightly framed. To allow the kind of love that you speak of and I believe Paul speaks of to wash in and through real relationships is no fantasy.