BIBLICAL POINT OF REFERENCE:
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not invoke the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day--keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD you God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shallot bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
Do you all remember that "Moral Problems" class I have to take this semester? I mentioned it not too long ago in another article, and, not surprisingly, I have already had some discomfort with the material being taught. I won't explain the entire story (it's way too long and philosophical), but basically we were told, within the particular context of the material we were discussing, that God "commanding" something is the same thing as God "loving" something; or rather, the word "command" and the word "love" are interchangeable when speaking about God. Maybe this doesn't seem like a big deal, but for me, this is definitely something worth discussing, because the way things are said and the connotations that certain words have can impact people in ways they might not even know about. Allow me to explain myself: if we look up the definition of the word "command" on Google, the first thing we get is: "to give an authoritative order." Some synonyms include order, direct, instruct, and require. What are your first thoughts when you read that definition? I personally think about all the times my parents tell me what to do, and not in the good sense either. What I don't like about the word "command" is that it brings about this negative energy, as though we are given no choice and have no free will when we are commanded to do something. Don't get me wrong here: God does indeed command us to a certain level, such as in the Ten Commandments (listed above in the biblical point of reference). Those Commandments are there to remind us of how to live our lives so that we may join God one day in Heaven. Why does God do that? Because He loves us. Do you see where I am going with this yet? Let's take an even closer look at the definition of the word "love" on Google: "an intense feeling of deep affection." Some synonyms include attachment, tenderness, and warmth. To be perfectly honest, I'm not too fond of this definition of love, and I could think of other ways to describe what love is, but this description does get my point across, which is that love has a completely different meaning and connotation when we hear it compared to the word "command". When I think of love, I think of how much my parents care for me and want me to succeed, or about how much God loves me and is always going to be there for me, no matter what. I don't think about someone commanding me to do something, and nothing bad comes to mind when I hear the word "love". So why were we told that "command" and "love" mean the same thing when we are talking about God? For some, the only thing they know about God is that He does command many things from us. That isn't a lie; God commands us to live life in His image, and as Catholics and Christians, we talk about those commandments in such a way that they are given to us because God loves us and wants to be with us. That can be hard for people to grasp, and I totally get it. But the truth is that the two words of this discussion don't mean the same thing, and to say that they do is ignorant, especially if someone doesn't take the time to try to understand the difference in meaning and connotation. I don't want the first glimpse someone has of God to be of Him "commanding" us to do something; He is so much more than that, and deserves a better introduction. To set the record straight, God gives us commandments for our own good, and because He loves us. God's overarching power is that of love, and that is the word we should use to describe Him. Your Laughing Sister, Callahan