July 30, 2008

Good, Bad, and Passionate

I'm a child of the 80's, so I'm perfectly at home with weird language. While I was growing up, "bad" started to mean "good" and, paradoxically, "cool" and "hot" eventually meant the same thing.

The oldest use of the word "passion" means "the sufferings of a martyr". Since that time, its come to mean a powerful love, and more recently still, lust. Writers describe a "passionate embrace" or a "passionate kiss"... even "passionate sex".

I can accept bad, good, cool, and hot as they are, but I refuse to surrender on "passion".

For a husband and wife, deep love - even passionate love - can be expressed physically. There is nothing wrong with the expression "passionate love" if we make the effort not to confuse the cause with the effect. The physical aspect - what you might only somewhat inaccurately call the "fun part" - is not passion. It is the effect of passion; it is a symptom of being infected by that deep love.

What is passionate love? If passion originally meant "the suffering of martyrs", then passionate love is love that causes suffering. It is love for which we willingly accept suffering. It can be the small sufferings of day-to-day life or the larger suffering of losing a husband or wife to tragedy. Passionate love leads to suffering, without exception. We cannot control that, but we can control how we view that suffering. We can be angry at God, like Job was at first, or we can understand that suffering brings us closer to Him - closer to the cross of Christ, as we carry it with Him - and, in a way, validates the love that we have felt. If love does not hurt to lose, than it was not love at all.

God, too, loves passionately. "INRI" is not a grave marker; it is a love letter.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

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