If you would permit a barely- nineteen year old to speak about such deep things, I would like to say a little bit about love. Love is one of those things that become clearer with experience. From the outside looking it, it seems to be the most puzzling and ridiculous madness ever to take hold of mankind. Think of the idea of Romeo drinking poison when he learned that Juliet was dead. What madness! What good could come of it? But it’s like watching a man shout in delight at having tasted a wondrous meal, and wondering what has possessed him to such nonsense. Once you have tasted it for yourself, it makes perfect sense. (Or so I think it should be. Having tasted it for myself, I would contend that it makes absolutely no sense).
Rather than take on the pointless task of trying to understand love then, I think more will come from classifying it from experience. In a basic sense, love has 3 levels.
1. The love I have for my siblings is love in the most basic sense of the word. I would do a lot for them. I don’t want to see them hurt. I want them to get good birthday presents. Seeing them happy makes me happy. They make me insanely angry sometimes, but before the week’s end I won’t even remember their offense. Anyone who hurts them would mistake me for a wounded tiger – it makes me that furious.
2. At the second level, we have the kind of love I have for my friends. Not only do I love them the way I love my siblings, but I love to spend time with them doing nothing and everything. Being with them is fun, relaxing and pleasurable whether we’re telling stories or just doing nothing.
3. The third level I’ll show by way of illustration, I had a dear friend in high school; dear is the strongest sense of the world. I can’t remember what it was that we had in common, I just knew that I loved her. but as it was I simply cared about her and loved to spend time with her – even if we were doing nothing at all. I looked forward to seeing her when I got back from classes. We hugged (which was not as common there as it is in the US). We talked about nothing and everything and even though I haven’t seen her in three years, I still love and miss her. That love was – and still is – as passionate as any instance of erotic love that I have known.
You would notice I left something out: desire. My friend (who I will call Deborah for brevity’s sake) and I never spent time gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes and we most certainly never contemplated sexual relations of any kind. The love between David and Jonathan was not have been the kind between Romeo and Juliet, but it was every bit as passionate. Deborah and I have never spent any time telling each other how beautiful our eyes her, but I love her with every bit of my heart. Sexual desire does not add quality to a relationship. It only changes the type of relationship.
And that leads me to my argument: That love – erotic, platonic or agape – are all the same at the core. They all vary in passion. Friendships can be passionate or muted. Erotic love can be the kind between Romeo and Juliet, or the kind between old Mr. and Mrs. Peterson, who sit on their back porch every evening watching birds. Even love between siblings can be the “I’ll jump into lava if it pleases you” kind or the “I love you but I’ll fight with you over a piece of candy” type. But Romeo and Juliet did not love each other more than David and Jonathan. They would have died for each other. So love, whether erotic or not, can be very passionate.
So Why the Hullabaloo?
Love is one important factor in the homosexuality debate. A painfully rhythm-less song I recently heard on the radio had a woman singing: “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to. My love, my love, my love, she keeps me warm”. (By the way, if you know the singer, tell her not to quit the day job. And to stop singing before she puts that poor radio station out of business). But sexual desire, as I have argued is a wholly separate thing from love. It can exist with love and it can exist without love – as you would know if you’ve ever caught someone drooling over you in public. But homosexual relationships aren’t a matter of love. I love lots of people of the same gender and I love them very strongly. It is about sex and sexual desire, and those are not defining qualities of love. No one ever suggested to the man who went in to a prostitute that he ‘loved’ her, even if she was the most beautiful thing on this side of the galaxy.
The idea, then, that erotic love between two people is a game-changer is akin to the man who thinks his wife’s soup is the best on the planet; akin to Romeo’s belief that suicide was a good response to Juliet’s death. It’s the thinking of a fool in love.