There’s a campaign that has gone viral on YouTube recently called, “Love Has No Labels.” Chances are you have seen the video (at least 45 million have). The campaign attempts to encourage people to overcome their prejudices and to accept people for who they are because, “love is love.” I think most of us can agree that we want more love in the world and it is true, as the video asserts, that love has no gender, no age, no religion, no race, and no disability.
Last week, I saw this video shared all over my social media pages – with some people even stating how emotional they became from watching the video.
I watched it, and I don’t understand what the big deal is.
The overall message of overcoming prejudice and bias in favor of love is a positive message. But there’s a significant problem with the campaign – it doesn’t define, “love” – and not all “love” is the same. Love has many different definitions.
Ancient Greece understood that there are many kinds of love. The Greeks distinguished between four different kinds of love – eros, philia, storge and agape love. The highest form of love was Agape – which means self-sacrificing love. Then, even within the definition of Agape, there are different forms – one of which is conjugal love – when two people become one. Conjugal love is marital love.
It is very important that, when we speak of love, we understand that not all love is the same – we have to define love. And, if we are speaking of conjugal love – meaning the love that marriages are made of – it certainly has labels. For example:
- We can all agree that a 60 year old man should not marry and be romantic with a 10 year old girl. This means, conjugal love has an age.
- We can all agree that a person can love their dog, but they should not marry and be romantic with their dog. This means, conjugal love has a species.
- We can all agree that a person can love their siblings, but they should not marry their brother or sister. This means, conjugal love cannot be within the same family.
Conjugal love – or marriage – has labels and this is why there are people in the world who draw a line when it comes to the definition of marriage.
I usually try and stay out of the marriage debate. Too often, dialogue around the topic of marriage deteriorates into one big fight pitting Christianity against homosexuals and when the conversation deteriorates, both sides of the debate become guilty of losing sight of the dignity of the person that they are dialoguing with.
But there is one statement that I will always refute. It is not true that two people of the same sex can love each other the same way that I love my wife. It is not the same.
Conjugal love, is the union of two people into one – the union of mind, physical body and soul. It is in the sexual act, that my wife and I experience this love in a physical manner- we actually become one body and our love can create a third person. We physically experience a communion of persons – just as God is a communion of persons. It is because of this reality, that St. Paul refers to marriage as a great Mystery, Two people of the same flesh can certainly love one another – even experiencing Agape. But their bodies can never experience the same communion together that my wife and I can experience – it just isn’t possible. It’s not the same.
Spreading a message of love is admirable. But the “Love has No Labels,” campaign misses the mark and continues to murky the waters when it comes to understanding conjugal love. The more people misunderstand love and marriage, the more you will see a movement in the world to re-define marriage. We are already seeing a movement toward polygamy – where the word “throuples” is becoming accepted. It won’t be long until we see all sorts of variations of marriage. When we lose an understanding of conjugal love, we lose the ability to practice it and our entire civilization suffers without it. Love has labels, and we should respect what those labels teach the world about love.