Love’s Limitations

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“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy. All you need is love.”[1] These lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney were sung during the world’s first live global television link in 1967. Initially watched by over 400 million people in 25 countries, the song “All You Need is Love” has become a global slogan and even a philosophy of life for many.[2] Combine this slogan with Walt Disney’s influential themes of “follow your heart” and “true love,” and the result is entire generations that have adopted a skewed understanding of love and its limitations.

This is born out in the way people on both sides of the aisle have approached the issue of homosexuality. Many who oppose the lifestyle refuse to voice their concerns because it would surely be unloving to interfere in the love-life of another. After all, it really isn’t their business anyway. Others who have adopted the homosexual lifestyle challenge, “Isn’t the important thing that I love? Whose business is it anyway if I love this person?”

The simple answer to these questions is that anybody who cares about someone will necessarily care about whom and what that person loves. This is an integral part of being in a relationship. When someone in a relationship fears that the other person’s love may cause harm, there is concern. This is true whether that love is directed toward an inanimate object, an activity, or a person. Whenever someone develops an unhealthy love—whether it be for junk food, online gaming, excessive shopping, addictive substances, or another person—those in relationship with that person will necessarily become concerned. Similarly, when the person’s love is believed to be healthy and beneficial, those in relationship with that person will be happy for him or her. It is ridiculous to believe that the people who care the most for a person should not care about what and whom he or she loves.

The same individual who questions whether his or her love is anyone else’s business would likely be offended if his or her relationship were treated with complete indifference by family and friends. This is because that person does not truly believe that others should not invest themselves into his or her relationship. Neither is this what he or she most wants. What he or she truly means is that those who disagree with the relationship should not express their disagreement, but this defies the nature of relationship, and it defies the nature of genuine love. According to 1 Corinthians 13:6, “[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” True love can never rejoice in a decision which is believed to be immoral. Any effort to do so is not genuine love.

Likewise, the general public who is not in close relationship with the individual is entitled to make that person’s relationship their business. This is because the homosexual community has made this a public issue. Once the appeal has been made to redefine marriage in order to accommodate this love, this relationship becomes everybody’s business. When marriage is redefined legally, those who disagree with it are codified as bigots. They are subject to punishment for disagreeing and speaking against this new definition of marriage and for refusing to facilitate or celebrate it. Not only are they subject to punishment, but the punishment may be intensified because it can be classified as a hate crime. Already this has been foreshadowed by the city of Houston subpoenaing the sermons of pastors who opposed the city’s equal rights ordinance,[3] and by lawsuits such as the baker[4] and the florist who refused to provide their services to a gay wedding.[5]

When marriage is redefined legally, it changes dozens of aspects of society. It affects legal codes, educational curriculum, religious institutions, etc. This has already been demonstrated in other countries. In Denmark clergy are now required to facilitate same-sex wedding ceremonies in their churches. Individual priests can refuse, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.[6] In England pastors are being arrested and threatened with arrest for passing out literature opposed to homosexuality.[7] And parents in Canada cannot opt their children out of same-sex education in the public schools.[8] Moreover, those in Canada were told by a judge that they have no right even to know what a homosexual advocate taught their children in the classroom.[9]

Beyond this, it simply is not true that the love experienced between individuals is the only thing that matters. Every society establishes acceptable boundaries for sexual relationships. These are requirements in addition to love which must be met if the couple is to marry—or even to have sexual intercourse.

To illustrate this consider the case of incest. In Indiana a 72-year-old grandmother fell madly in love with her 26-year-old grandson.[10] Likewise, in Germany a brother and sister who were estranged at birth eventually met and fell in love. However, the law in both countries prohibits these couples from marrying one another. In fact, in Germany it is illegal for close relatives to have any sexual relationship. According to Professor Kunze in a BBC News article, “The law is here for a good reason. Medical research has shown that there is a higher risk of genetic abnormalities when close relatives have a child together. When siblings have children, there is a 50% chance that the child will be disabled.”[11]

This couple, which had lived together for six years and had given birth to four children, appears to have substantiated this claim as two of their children are disabled. Nevertheless, they claimed discrimination when the brother was jailed, and they presented many of the same heart-rending appeals as are frequently offered by homosexuals. At one point the sister said, “I just want to live with my family, and be left alone by the authorities and by the courts.”[12] Nevertheless, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Germany is entitled to ban incest. This is just one example of the many boundaries that society places around sexual relationships.

Another example is polygamy. Not only are polygamous marriages forbidden, but in many places a person can be imprisoned for such an arrangement.[13] Still another example is that of under-age relationships. In many countries it is a criminal offense to engage in sexual activity with an under-age child—even if that child desires the relationship. Outrage is a common reaction to stories such as India’s child brides as young as five years of age,[14] or Britain’s barrister who advocated lowering the legal age of consent to 13 in order to stop the “persecution of old men.”[15] This is because it is innately understood that when it comes to sexual relationships, there must be boundaries.

Governments and individuals alike draw lines at some point defining when love is no longer sufficient to condone a sexual relationship. Some of these lines are drawn because of moral reasons. Some are drawn because of genetic reasons. Others are drawn because of psychological reasons. Still other lines are drawn because of social reasons. Whatever the reason, anytime a line is drawn, it will necessarily make some people feel upset, misunderstood, and mistreated. However, this does not mean that it is unloving to draw such a line, and these are not sufficient reasons to remove these boundary lines. If the argument is accepted in the case of homosexuality that love alone is enough to excuse a sexual relationship, then there remains no consistent reason to uphold these other protective sexual boundary lines. This would genuinely be an unloving act.

Already other sexual minority groups are using the reasoning and legal appeals of the homosexual community to secure legal protection and public acceptance. In Utah a provision of the law used to prosecute polygamy was struck down by a federal judge.[16] Moreover, polyamorous relationships are now favorably portrayed in popular movies and television shows such as Her, Savages, Sister Wives, Big Love, Utopia, and Wife Swap. Even extreme sexual preferences such as bestiality is gaining public favor with New York Magazine publishing a 62,000 word interview with a bisexual man who is married to a woman but has regular sex with horses.[17] If how a person feels toward another is sufficient to condone a sexual relationship, then there can be no consistent argument against these other practices.

Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that the Bible does not teach that God is unconcerned about whom a person loves but simply that a person loves. First Corinthians 5:1–5 condemns incest:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.


First Corinthians 6:15–18 condemns prostitution:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

And Galatians 5:19 condemns adultery, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery …” (KJV).

God cares very much whom and how a person loves. Not all love is acceptable to God; therefore, we too should not be willing to accept all forms of love. Contrary to the words of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it would appear that love is not all that we need, and it is possible to find ourselves in places God never intended us to be.

Be sure to read Timothy Zebell’s book Laid Bare: Uncovering the Relationship Between Homosexuality & the Gospel.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. “All You Need Is Love Lyrics.” Metro Lyrics, n.d. Accessed February 19, 2015.

2. Wikipedia, s.v. “All You Need Is Love.” Last modified February 14, 2015. Accessed February 19, 2015.

3. Sanburn, Josh. “Houston’s Pastors Outraged after City Subpoenas Sermons over Transgender Bill.” TIME, October 17, 2014. Accessed October 18, 2014.

4. Fields, Lizz. “Judge Orders Colorado Bakery to Cater for Same-Sex Weddings.” US. ABC News, December 7, 2013, 6:35 p.m. Accessed October 18, 2014.

5. “Washington State Judge Rules against Florist Who Refused Gay Wedding.” Reuters, February 19, 2015, 1:51 a.m. Accessed February 20, 2015.

6. Orange, Richard. “Gay Danish Couples Win Right to Marry in Church.” News. Telegraph, June 7, 2012. Accessed October 18, 2014.

7. Blake, Heidi. “Christian Preacher Arrested for Saying Homosexuality Is a Sin.” News. Telegraph, May 2, 2010, 1:05 p.m., BST. Accessed October 18, 2014.

8. Craine, Patrick. “Toronto School Board: Parents Can’t Opt Kids out of Pro-Homosexual Curriculum.” News. Life Site News, June 8, 2011. Accessed June 12, 2014.

9. Baklinski, Peter. “Judge: Parents Have No Right to Know What Homosexual Activist Taught Their Children in School.” News. Life Site News, November 10, 2012, 5:40 p.m., EST. Accessed October 18, 2014.

10. Nikkhah, Roya. “Grandmother and Grandson to Have Child Together.” News. Telegraph, May 1, 2010. Accessed June 12, 2014.

11. Moore, Tristana. “Couple Stand by Forbidden Love.” News. BBC News, n.d. Last updated March 7, 2007, 6:32, GMT. Accessed June 12, 2014.

12. Moore.

13. “Is Polygamy Illegal?” Polygamy. Accessed February 19, 2015.

14. Daily Mail Reporter. “The Secret World of the Child Bride: Heartbreaking Pictures of the Girls as Young as FIVE Who Are Married off to Middle-Aged Men.” News. Daily Mail, June 9, 2011. Accessed October 18, 2014.

15. Meredith, Charlotte. “Age of Consent Should Be Lowered to 13 to Stop Persecution of Old Men, Says Top Barrister.” News. Express, May 9, 2013. Accessed October 18, 2014.

16. Wetzstein, Cheryl. “Judge Strikes down Part of Anti-bigamy Law in Utah.” News. Washington Times, August 28, 2014. Accessed August 30, 2014.

17. Tsoulis-Reay, Alexa. “What It’s Like to Date a Horse.” New York Magazine, November 20, 2014. Accessed November 21, 2014.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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