50) Lust Kills. Love Dies.

Surely we recognize the parallels to Adam and Eve in Walt Disney’s Snow White, where the vain ruler who wants to be supreme in the land uses a poisoned fruit to kill the rival young woman, who is however brought back to life by the man who loves her so much he shares the poison on her lips.

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In Adam’s courageous willingness to die for his wife, he demonstrated the supreme likeness that mankind alone shares with God.

Love.

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no-one to hear it, is there sound? If God is loving but there is no-one to experience his love, does love actually exist? Does the reader comprehend the depths of misery of unrequited love, the complete opposite of the ecstasy of love fulfilled?

When God created humans with self-will who had to overcome selfishness for the benefit of others, he created the potential to love.

love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth [is united with] God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.“(I John 4:7-11)

titanic_jack_rose_waterIn the hugely popular movie Titanic, Jack’s love for Rose is proved, not by his admiration and desire for her, but by giving his life for her. The best and brightest aspects of God’s character can only be perceived in his actions towards humans, and in the actions of his children that reflect their likeness to him.

And it is by the same action –  choosing to die out of love – that the first human son of God developed his likeness to God, grand-slamming anything the brilliant spirit son of God Lucifer had to show in competition.

While The Lord of the Rings falls short of being a completely accurate biblical allegory, it does bring to life a host of biblical concepts, including this one in which an immortal being chooses mortality, out of love.

i-would-rather-share-one-lifetime-with-you-than-face-all-the-ages-of-this-world-alone.

God’s choice of humble humanity was vindicated by Adam’s decision to eat the fruit and die.

“…Adam…is the figure of him that was to come [the Savior].” (Romans 5:14)

“Husbands, love your wives, even as The Promised One / Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Messiah / Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:25-32)

Let’s rephrase that, putting Adam in the action.

Husbands, love your wives, even as the first Adam also loved his wife, and gave himself for her, that he might take away the corruption caused by her action, wiped clean of decay by the power of the word that gave life in the first place, that he might present her to himself a glorious wife restored to perfection.  For this cause Adam separated himself from his heavenly Father, and joined himself to his wife by eating the fruit and experiencing death with her, so they could continue to be united, have the same flesh. This is a great mystery, that is revealed as the story progresses.

Lucifer had the same opportunity to increase his likeness to God.  He only had to gracefully agree to put humanity’s welfare above his own. But he didn’t.

That should send chills down your spine.  This fragile, childishly innocent human countered the most powerful, evil monster in the universe in his first move, simply by choosing to act according to the word of God, even to apparent failure, to death! – instead of leaning on his own understand or acting on his own self interests.

Did he know how his action would send shock waves through the universe? Undoubtedly, no.  The opposite of “knowledge is power” is “faith is power,” where faith is simply trusting that what God said is true and acting on that instead of a calculated likelihood of achieving desired results.

Adam knew only that God had given him a companion who he was committed to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance.  

Our faith in the love of God is what overcomes the power of evil. It’s that simple.

Adam knew the consequences when he chose to join his wife in death, and it was his faith that his Father / Mother Creator would be faithful to his word to grant dominion to mankind that empowered him to face death, sure that the source of all life would be able and willing to override death.

“Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” (Hebrews 11:11)

“Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord…my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell…Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” (Psalm 16, Acts 2:22-35)

The following New Testament passage about Jesus Christ is validated, affirmed, proven trustworthy by the first Son of God’s actions.

Marriage is honourable in all…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that WE may boldly say, The Lord is MY helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me…YHVH’s Savior – the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:4-8)

There is only one end to marriage for a human son of God.

“if the unbelieving depart, let him depart….For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (I Corinthians 7:10-14)

Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends [intimate acquaintances]…For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners [like the woman in the Garden of Eden], The Promised One / Christ died for us [like Adam].” ( John 15:13, Romans 5:7-8)

Adam gave his life in both in death and the new man he became.

I’m sure Adam was pretty upset when he saw what his companion had done. Love is not a good feeling. It is not feeling attracted to another. It is, in fact, the opposite.

Love is commitment, determination to stay even when things get worse,, willingness to suffer and sacrifice. Every loving parent should grasp this intuitively. We choose to have children, disrupting and even risking our lives, because we want to experience love with them. We choose to stay married for the sake of the children’s welfare rather than leave to find fulfillment of personal desires. 

The classic passage defines love as embedded character traits:  long suffering, kind, does not envy, does not brag, doesn’t have an inflated sense of importance, doesn’t attract attention inappropriately, doesn’t exploit others for own advantage, is not easily provoked, doesn’t attribute wrong-doing to others, doesn’t take pleasure in wrong-doing but rather in doing what’s right, bears up under trouble, believes all things are possible, continues in hope, endures tribulation, never fails. And these three character traits remain forever – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love is not a quality that can be bestowed or inherited, like royalty.  We become loving only through our chosen responses to challenges.  

Cultural historian Warren Susman researched the rise and fall of the concept of character, tracing its prevalence in literature and the self-improvement manuals and guides popular in different eras…During the 1800s, “character was a key word in the vocabulary of Englishmen and Americans,”…Young people were…told that character was the most priceless thing they could ever attain. Starting at the beginning of the 20th century, however, Susman found that the ideal of character began to be replaced by that of personality

The vision of self-sacrifice began to yield to that of self-realization,”…the new advice manuals concentrated on what others thought he was and did…A great example of this is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People from 1936. It focused on how to get people to like you and how to get others to perceive you well versus trying to improve your actual inner moral compass…

The etymology of character is quite telling. The word comes from the Greek kharakter for “engraved mark,”…Anciently, a character was the stamp or marking impressed into wax and clay, and as Henry Clay Trumbull explains in 1894’s Character-Shaping and Character-Showing, it served as:

“… trade-mark, of the potter, the painter, the sculptor, the writer, or any other artist or artisan, or inventor, as indicative of the personality of the maker…”

“Character is…nature cultured and disciplined, so that natural tendencies are brought under the sway of the moral motive…

Above all, [character] includes a choice, a settled habit or bent of will, so that it can be seen in its outcome in conduct…

The one quality most associated with character in the nineteenth century was self-mastery – the dominion of an individual over his impulses and desires, so that he was in control of them, and not the other way around. A man of self-mastery embodies the kingship of self-control and can direct his will and make his own choices, rather than being a slave to his base impulses.

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