This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The nature of spiritual love

Since we have made the presence of love a determining factor in the legitimate use of force, we would do well to clarify as much as possible what we have in mind when we use this word.

We have already said that we do not have in mind the sentimental love that is more an emotion than an orientation of the will. Love does not pursue pleasure or enjoyment or wealth or even happiness. If these are experienced as byproducts of the pursuit of love, we may be grateful, but true love of the highest order yearns for the spiritual perfection of ourselves and others.

Spiritual perfection is often acquired at the cost of happiness, at the cost of comfort, and in spite of suffering and inconvenience. In other words, it is possible to cause someone suffering out of love for them, and it is possible to make someone very happy while degrading them.

We do not wish suffering on anyone, and we live in fear of the possibility that those we love might suffer, but fear of their spiritual debasement must always be stronger than the fear of their suffering.

It is easy to see why this is very distinct from ‘worldly love’ which pursues temporal well-being. This ‘love’ cannot imagine why earthly pleasures would ever be sacrificed for the sake of something beyond life. This is unfortunately the kind of love that motivates certain humanitarian movements, movements which displace ancient cultures and undermine religious life of the people being ‘helped’, all for the sake of ‘modernization’ and ‘development’, on the assumption that material standards are the only standards of living.

We can see too often the objects of ‘humanitarian’ love end up being materially improved but spiritually impoverished.

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