This hashtag has become well-known over the course of the 2016 American Presidential Election, and in the aftermath of Donald J Trumps victory no less a personality than Lady Gaga was seen driving through New York on a truck, holding up this message. But is it true? Does love trump hate?
The answer is … it depends!
It is one thing to objectively discuss with sweeping generalisation how love is greater than hatred, but in our culture today, we need to define love, and it is best to consider the question in the context in which the hashtag was born.
The point of the slogan in the polarising race to the White House, was to characterise the Democrats as the party of love fighting a noble battle against Trump – a man of hate. Whatever ones political persuasion, let’s be clear that the truth in these things is always to be found somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, in this ‘post-truth’ age (more on that another time), so many would rather emote than think.
However, if you’re reading this, then you are not one of the many. Let us therefore consider whether the love that was on offer did indeed ‘trump hate’? If the protests that have sprung up across America, and the vitriolic language in the media are anything to go by, then it would seem clear the answer is no.
I must be careful though not to tar everyone with the same brush, for I know many good folks – friends – who are filled with love for others. While they are deeply saddened by the result, they would have nothing to do with the hatred expressed so freely towards the President Elect and those who voted for him.
Nevertheless, I want to ask all who would promote a culture of love – something that touches the heart and assumes a moral goodness – to assess the priority of ‘love’ in their philosophical worldview. I am convinced that the concept of ‘love’ has for many become the most important thing. It has become the foundation upon which every idea and action rests. It has become the driving force of their lives. It has become their idol.
When ‘love’ gets to this position, it allies itself with its maker ‘ego’ and begins to construct a definition of love that appeals first and foremost to self. This definition will then be promoted and as support is gained, the deified duo of ‘ego’ and ‘love’ will dictate that all must bow to their demands. From here, it is but a small step to hatred and oppression, for how else will any dictator respond to rebellion. Love has not trumped hate. Love has become hate, and this is what we have been seeing in America.
The pathway that I’ve just described is true of anything that we ourselves set up as god, whether consciously or not. What begins as morally good, when corrupted by self, becomes morally evil. So what’s the answer?
The answer is for us not to become the maker; not to fashion a god for ourselves, even of abstract virtues like ‘love’. Instead, we need to recognise that we have a Maker, and that this God is not the evil dictator that He is portrayed as, but a God who is Love.
“But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He has loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved)” [Ephesians 2:4,5]
Then we need to humbly bow before Him, thank Him for His love, accept His will and purpose in our lives, and in so doing demonstrate His selfless and sacrificial love to others. You see, by giving a loving God His rightful place at the centre of our being through Jesus Christ, love also takes its place at the centre, but without the danger of being corrupted by self. This is the glorious victory that Christ offers – a love that truly does trump hate.
“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect!”