Back in my days as a self-proclaimed dating expert (an experience I plan to reflect on this Friday), I wrote a post that has stuck with me through the years on relationships and religion. This particular article focused on how these two seemingly separate aspects of life are in fact very similar. They survive and die based on the same logic. When you think about it, it’s really quite intriguing. No wonder they say God is Love. I promise I’m not crazy. Let me explain.
First, I’ll start with the most basic. How do you prove that love or God exist. Without these things, it’s impossible to have a meaningful relationship or a meaningful spiritual experience. Sure, you can be in a relationship without love. You can also follow the rules of a religion without believing in God. I think we can all agree both of those experiences are a bit empty without the love or the God they are meant to honor. Yet, how does one come to believe either is a reality?
The complex answer is that we feel something in the core of our being. There is a undetectable, invisible connection we feel between family, friends and lovers. Now, these people may also verbally tell us they love us. They may supply us with shelter or gifts. These are all things that can be done without love, though. How many times do we hear about romantic partners giving an object to the other with the expectation of a sexual gift in return or hear about marriages based off money instead of the connection between them? All of these things we associate with love don’t actually prove the existence of love. We are left with a sort of intuition that speaks to us, saying this person has said this, done this or gifted me this out of love.
Isn’t God proven much the same way? Sure, we have religious rules, prayers and meditations all aimed at connecting to God, but none of that proves anything. Anyone can blindly follow rules. Anyone can memorize a prayer. Proof of God comes from a similar intuition. From within us we feel what I usually describe as a “connection to some other.” We feel like there is something greater than us, something that connects to the deepest parts of who we are. That is what religion is based around. All around the world, religion attempts to explain and worship this “other.” No matter where you go, though, it’s all paying homage to something invisible and undetectable.
What do we call this near blind belief? Faith. Both religion and relationships require a certain amount of faith to survive. For part of my life, I gave up on love. I have met others who, due to life experiences, no longer believe in love. If you really listen, people who think like this often speak in a similar manner to an atheist. They speak about the absence of proof, of the things that have happened to them that seem to prove the exact opposite. They have no faith in love and love will inevitably die without faith, as will religion.
The other key similarity I see is repetition. Now, I know people like spontaneity in their love life, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. This sort of faith can easily be forgotten, pushed to the side, without a constant reminder that it exist. In various relationships, love may be further proven by saying the words “I love you” or by asking about another’s day. Being present, reminding yourself and those you love that love exist between you on a regular basis, is imperative to its survival. Without this repetition, a married couple might wake up one day to feel like they lay next to a stranger. Friends may reconnect to find they have completely changed into people who can no longer get along. We have to remain constant, falling in love again day after day because people change day after day.
Now, God may not change in the same way, but divinity’s impact on our lives can be just as subtle as love and easily forgotten without a reminder. Where constant reminders in love help us continue a healthy relationship with people who are changing, repetition in terms of religion helps us gain and deeper and deeper understanding of something we can never understand fully. The absence of repetition gradually gets us farther and farther away from understanding. While repetition in relationships and religion may be needed for different reasons, they are needed nonetheless.
Thinking like this makes me wonder about my conviction that God is literally love. There are other similarities I haven’t even touched on here, like 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8. These statements, famously read at many weddings, mention things that love is and that love is not. Do these not also describe Divinity?
Okay, so maybe if you believe in an angry god or a jealous god, those statements don’t correlate with your idea of god. I, however, believing in a loving, merciful God. For me, those statements are an exact match. If you replace the world ‘love’ with ‘God,’ you would have my belief system. Regardless of your beliefs or religion, this connect people claim to have is a kind of relationship. Doesn’t it make sense both love and religion would have qualities they share?
Do you think relationships and religion have a lot of similarities? Can you think of any I missed in this post or do you think I’m totally off? What do you think people mean when they say “God is Love?”