To Love ones enemy


#1

We must love our enemies? Even if our enemies are plotting to destroy us? Even if our enemies seek to invade our lands, distort our societies with heresy, blasphemy, and disrespect our Christian heritage? Are we to love our enemies, even if our love will pave the road to our demise?

What does jesus REALLY mean when he commands us to ‘love our enemies’?

Contemporary catholic philosophy seems to lean toward the idea of relentlessly loving ones enemy, even when ones enemy strives to engineer Christianity’s demise. This philosophical interpretation of jesus’ message of insatiable love and forgiveness can be found within the sentiments held by those today who believe Europe must remain open to a never ending introduction of Muslim, non European immigration. Greeting unfettered Muslim immigration with closed doors, even for the sake of Christian stability, growth and Christian hegemony, is perceived as selfish, uncaring, cold - and therefore un-Christ like.

However, I find myself confused by today’s modern interpretation, and consequently I find myself questioning this line of reasoning.

Loving ones enemy - welcoming ones enemy into Christian society, along with their disrespect, blasphemy, anti Christian political machinations, even to the point of self sacrifice - doesn’t seem very Christian to me. Such an idea seems to reflect a deviation from Christian ideology to the ideology of self harm and suicide.

I’d appreciate some enlightenment.


#2

This is probably not exactly what you are looking for, but Judaism, unlike Christianity, does NOT advocate loving one’s enemies since this is viewed as unnatural. However, in both Proverbs and the Talmud, Jews are enjoined not to rejoice in the fall of their enemies, nor to begrudge them in any way, including their possessions, land, and animals. On the contrary, we are to care for them in their time of need and not neglect them. In Matthew, I believe, there is a statement concerning Jesus’ encouragement to love one’s enemies to the effect that the people have been previously told to love their neighbor and hate their enemies. The second part of the statement is incorrect; nowhere in the Hebrew Bible are we commanded to hate our enemies in either thought or deed.

Just a thought: perhaps the Christian notion of loving one’s enemies means that we should pray for them and their conversion to righteousness rather than demonstrably loving them by means of our behavior toward them.


#3

We certainly dont see this in practice today, at least not from what Ive seen.

I remember talking to fellow parishioners back when that ISIS jihadi John was beheading people on video, ALL of them hated this guy, most were mentioning the specific ways they would like to see him be killed…but at the same time, whenever there is a news story about someone using violence to thwart abortion, everyone condemns it and disagrees with…?? LOL How can they not see the HUGE contradiction in this behavior?


#4

I understand your confusion.

The problem arises because of the ambiguity in the English word “love”, and the modern way in which it is interpreted. The idea that “love” means being relentlessly nice, kind, gentle, and a doormat at all costs is a serious error.

To love, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, is to will the good of another. And by “good”, we must understand not only physical or material good, but the salvation of the soul.

So, if someone is blaspheming, propagating false teachings or attacking Christianity, to “love” them can even involve rebuking them, correcting their errors, disciplinary measures such as excommunication (if they are inside the Church), and legitimate self-defence or a just war (if we are considering, say, terrorists or a hostile nation).

Does this help? :wink:


#5

Not only did Jesus die for His friends, He also died for His enemies. Out of sheer respect for Him, at least do no harm and keep one’s intention pure and Holy.
You may not like this person but He does.


#6

A man that got himself implicated in a manoeuvre against some vulnerable people in some churches I knew was later found to be seriously in trouble for something else. The time he had us all stunned for what he had done to us, maybe we should have prayed for him more (the mercy that is being talked about) in case it may have helped stay his hand later.

I see lots of forum members whose concrete enemy has been those near to them, and I have seen that they are acting in love towards them very well (with eyes open and asserting good boundaries as best they can).

Meltzerboy, it may be safest to give them a wide berth in person, if one has the opportunity. Syrtis, praying for our safety is good.


#7

Doesn’t the Greek lexicon have 7 different words for “love”? Perhaps using the correct one would suffice to understand this point!


#8

I’m still struggling to understand here. What did Christ really mean when using the word love with enemy? I cannot believe Christ would ask us to open our doors to any form of ideology, religious or political, that seeks to undermine his church, sheep, peace and righteousness. It doesn’t make sense.


#9

For many, forgiveness is a difficult virtue to master. When we learn the power and wisdom of forgiveness, we are bound to have reached an advanced level of spiritual maturity. Regardless the nature of any possible abuse that we may have endured, nor the severity of that abuse, full recovery from abuse cannot be achieved until we truly forgive our abuser(s). Any anger or resentment we hold within us, live and thrive within us, and become a part of our very self. We will never rid ourselves of this anger and resentment until we experience true forgiveness towards all. Seeing our tormentors suffer a thousand times over will only add to our own misery.

On the other hand, to endure unnecessary torment and misery is never righteous, but a perversion. Also, the righteousness of forgiveness should never involve our condoning abuse or any other forms of evil.

True forgiveness requires our valuing peace and love above all else. Experiencing forgiveness towards those who have wronged us resembles perfect love more so than perhaps any other human experience. Forgiveness involves recognizing and valuing the potential for love that exists within every human soul, including our own soul. Sins cannot be completely forgiven until we forgive, and find an inner peace with, everyone who has ever wronged us; for every ounce of anger and resentment that we hold against any other(s), there will surely exist an ounce of sin held against us – for harboring anger and resentment within our self is sin.

The Golden Rule states: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” Our forgiving everyone, especially those we consider our enemies or adversaries, is to demonstrate to God that we are worthy of His forgiveness. Likewise, to find love for all our enemies and adversaries is to demonstrate to God that we have suffered long enough with our anger and resentment, and we are ready to receive His love.

Again, to experience the true power and wisdom contained within the virtue of forgiveness is to develop great spiritual growth!


#10

It is not easy to love someone who is going around chopping off the heads of people you know. Maybe this is to be taken metaphorically.


#11

When in the OT it is stated to hate our enemies, I think of “our enemies” as a metaphor for hating the sins that dwell within us.


#12

He doesn’t at all.

Christ is talking to the Church.

He is saying to us each to maintain good boundaries as best we each can, pray for just government and peace, and pray for God’s salvation for evil doers whom we may hear of or meet.

We are not asked to believe any politician telling us what to love is.

We are not asked to believe any churchman pretending to be a politician telling us what to love is.

Christ is not an idealist.


#13

It’s good to know what exactly we mean by “love” in the Christian context.

A good Christian definition of love is “to will the good of another”.
This definition is a way of willing, which spills out into living, acting, being.

The definition doesn’t lay out specific moral actions for specific cases, so we are speculating when we ask “should I smile at someone who lops my arm off, or should I return the favor”.
Depends…


#14

I understand why forgiveness is crucial to our understanding of Christ, but I still lack an answer. Because forgiveness isn’t really the issue here. The issue exists before any notion of forgiveness can be delivered. I’m asking whether Christ would condone the importation of an anti Christian idea - whether political or religiously heretical, held by a demographic of people that have a track record of subversion, war, invasion, and instability, into our lands and way of life?

The Bible seems to suggest the answer would be no to this question, but many Christians today, even catholics request that we open our arms to people, culture and beliefs that are unquestionably harmful to Christian hegemony and Christian values.

Is pathological altruism in league with Christ’s request to love ones enemy? Thanks.


#15

Yes Jesus meant it.

We are to love our enemies.

We ought to will their good. This though can involve such as willing their conversion!

And it does not mean that one may not use just self -defense or engage in a just war in defense.

All the while loving them…willing their good.

Nor does loving our enemies mean accepting their errors in ideas as truth. Or accepting their wrong actions as good.

Loving * persons* does not mean accepting or embracing their ideas or actions.


#16

God condones (i.e permits) what God condones (i.e permits).

You or I or Fred Bloggs open, or don’t open, our own arms at our own discretion with exceedingly good consciences before God.

Are you a powerful politician? It’s not that easy to influence powerful influences outside of ourselves.

When we were born, we were born into an exceedingly scary world, however “You’ve never had it so good” / Joanna Trollope it looked at the time.

Jesus Christ and church things aren’t a matter of ideology.

The houses that the aborted would-be schoolmates of people not much younger than me would have been living in, are being moved into by people with strange attitudes to interpersonal relations. Unconscious grieving and mourning affect everybody.

As I get it, bishops should be listened to on faith and our own morals. When they are in part-time politician mode, however motivated, it is highly permissible for us to “tune out”, that’s my take.

We should get our idea of love from Scripture and solid catechesis. It is always based on good boundaries.

Is the “sword”, given to us in confirmation, not to intercede? “Lead us not into temptation (that means everybody in the Church and all dear to us at all, with benefits spilling over into all people around) but deliver us from evil.” What could be better love?

Now it ought to happen that the public should have good policy ideas. Each country must set an immigration policy and all areas of public policy ought to be based on good boundaries and open to public helping form it.

It is very right and exceedingly permissible for you to put those ideas forward even if they are not overtly similar to what a churchman is saying. I think that is deep down very true even on my most believing days, because I think the true Church leaves our consciences free in politics (when it is not a case of power weilding at others’ expense or something like that).

The OT land of Israel often equates in meaning to the Church and, while closing our borders more or if the UK had done already, the Church would still be a tiny minority with, in most ways, still the same challenges to rise to.

So, your feelings and wants aren’t at all in conflict with Christ’s teachings on loving our enemies.


#17

We ought to defend our country by prayer from hedge funds. It’s easier to see a person with a few tens of thousands in wealth and a very small business who expresses bossy views, than the hedge fund people and similar who have stolen countless thousands of billions from us all.


#18

Thanks. So Christ IS NOT a pathological altruistic hippy. Christ demands standards. So why are we lacking this intellectual narrative in the face of all that’s going on in today’s world?

As one exsmple: mass Islamic immigration into Christian lands will not benefit Christianity. It will not benefit Christ’s flock. Yet nobody dare say it. Why is this?


#19

You ever have a relationship and love someone but have to let them go? I mean this shouldn’t be hard… for an extreme freaky situation let’s say you have two kids, and one kid is going whacko and going to kill the other… you can in this made up scenario shoot the evil doing kid or watch the good one die… you shoot the crazy one. You still love the kid because bonds are like that. To love someone isnt to sit back and let evil be done. But in the sense of the enemy:

  1. Don’t be a freaking war criminal!

  2. Some of the things Jesus refers to denotes low level enemies. Like a “rude” neighbor who sends his dog over to poop on your lawn… this is where not “hating” comes in. For such a minor infraction you shouldn’t be calling up a posse of friends to tear his limbs off and kill his family…


#20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.