Thursday, February 12, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

“I was told I was loved,” someone recently conveyed to me. “My parents said they loved me and that’s why they demanded my full attention. And I believed it was true.”

Do you think this is love?

15 comments:

Joshua said...

Sounds like they're manipulative. Not to suggest the parents don't love the "child," simply that if it is it's imperfect.

Greg said...

Thanks Joshua. True. Love will always be imperfect. But does this person in her situation really have to believe she is loved? Can we say that though it's imperfect love is not manipulation?

Joshua said...

I don't understand the last question. As respectfully as I can state this, is the grammar right? (note: not a grammar nazi)

Greg said...

Joshua,
Perhaps, the question needs a comma after imperfect?

How about reformulating it like this? Does acknowledging that love is imperfect mean it can get away with being manipulative?

Susan said...

I don't think it is love. Their behaviour doesn't sound loving.

I read a book written by a psychiatrist who was not a Christian. He said that love is demonstrated behaviourally. If someone's actions repeatedly don't line up with their words, then believe their actions not their words - which sounds a lot like what James said.

Greg said...

Susan,
Thanks. Good points. Actions and words have to connect with each other. While the link won't be seamless, it should be evident to a degree that inspires trust and not suspicion.

John said...

I agree with Josh. This "love" sounds manipulative. They are forcing obedience, and it seems like the parents are forcing love as well. If one of the aspects of love is that it cannot be coerced...well, I think we have our answer.

Can there be a misguided love here, maybe, on the behalf of the parents? And is love not such if it is imperfect?

Greg said...

John,
Thanks. Are misguided love and imperfect love equal?

John said...

Equal? I'm not quite sure I understand what you mean by equal. Misguided love is definitely one type of imperfect love. That doesn't mean it's not redeemable, however.

Imperfect love can be harmful, but that also doesn't make it devoid of ANY good, which I don't think is what you're saying. I think every instance of love here on Earth, between created beings, is to some extent imperfect.

The "love" you're referring to in your original question is very imperfect and probably more harmful than most imperfect/misguided love.

Joshua said...

Well I don't think she has too believe she's loved, and it's these kind of events which tend to cause people to be overly suspicious. I obviously don't know if she's loved or not.

I wouldn't suggest that imperfect love excuses manipulation. The problem in my mind is that manipulation is tied to coercion. What if they said they said they demanded the person's respect? It seems there's a small area where coercion and love can be tied together (which seems very against our cultural assumptions), the orientation though being towards perhaps shalom? In this case, without knowing the situation or context, it seems it's oriented clearly toward the parents, and is selfish. It's sin???

I'm more trying to get at that manipulation doesn't equate towards not loving someone, which seems overly simplistic and cynical. It can be an important signpost for something to look for though.

Imperfect love isn't necessarily manipulative. It can be negligent or a whole plethora of variations.

Greg said...

John,
Yes, I think that's what I'm trying to get at with the question of equal. All human love will be imperfect, but that is not the same as misguided love, which may not be love at all. If one of the characteristics of love is putting the other before the self, while this is never perfect, if one engages in doing it can still be love.

I think that I was also interested in critiquing the tendency of those who say "I oppress and abuse, but love is never perfect so how can I be blamed?"

Greg said...

Joshua,
I agree and also believe that imperfect love does not excuse manipulation. If it does, it's too easy a let off. The bar must be set higher or anything can be excused and here is where justice has to play a role.

True, the parents have selfish motivations and therefore are not loving but sinful and in need of redemption and transformation.

Micha said...

hey guys, have a nice day and love truely

Greg said...

Thanks Micha.

John said...

Greg -
That's a good critique, to say it is not ok to say "Love isn't perfect, therefore it's ok to abuse", which is essentially another way of saying "How can I be blamed?"
Kind of like Paul saying "Shall we sin more so that grace may abound? By no means!"