Dear Christian: the phrase you need to strike from your vocabulary.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Dear Christian,

My words will come as a shock to some of you. You won’t get it. You won’t understand what’s wrong with the phrase that naturally flows out of your mouth on a daily basis. And I understand: I used to not only abuse the phrase as well, but I also neglected to see how there could be anything wrong with how I mashed it into my sentences. So, take heart: I’m not insulting your beliefs in God – for that much we share in common – but I am calling you on two words you need to strike from your vocabulary.

The phrase? “Love on.” “Loving on.” As in: 

I’m gonna go love on my Young Life kids today. 

I need to love on the gay community. 

I’m called to love on my friends who are sex workers. 

You catch my drift. I suppose it may not seem like a big deal to tack the preposition “on” after you stake claim to “love,” because, after all, Jesus did call us to love one another. Time and time again, he instructed his followers to love God and love other people. In fact, he also said that it’s all we need to do in this life we’ve been given.

But he didn’t instruct us to love on someone else.

This is the tricky part, I know, but this is what I want you to understand: when we love on another person, that individual becomes an object. He or she is not merely a person, wholly created and uniquely stamped with the image of God, but they are a means to the end. When we love on someone else, love becomes a duty and an obligation.We wear these words like a badge of honor, part and parcel something we’re required to do not because it’s WHO we’re supposed to be as Christians, but because it’s WHAT we’re supposed to be doing.

And that’s legalism. You know that. I know that, because people are, well, people.

People are not the kids you hope will accept Jesus into their hearts at the end of a week at camp, after you’ve loved on them more than anyone they’ve ever known.

People are not your neighbors you hope will start to come to church with you after they’ve seen the way you live, after they’ve experienced all the loving on them you’ve done through monthly cookie drop-offs.

And people are not friends from the gay community you hope to convert after you’ve loved on them enough for them to realize that you really, truly mean it when you say you hate the sin but love the sinner. [So please, if you’ve decided to love on the LGBTQ community after the tragedy early Sunday morning, stop now. Please.]

Enough is enough.

It’s time to stop treating people like mere slabs of meat, objects for our own glorification on this Christian side of heaven. 

Instead, try this: love people.

Gay? Love them.

Straight? Love them.

An unbeliever? Love them.

A believer? Love them.

A feminist? Love them.

A conservative, a liberal, a progressive, a libertarian? Love them.

Black, white, Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, and all other beautiful colors under God’s color palate of a rainbow? Love them.

Let’s let the great love of Christ be the driving force, the perfection that steers away fear.

Can this Love be the thing that binds us? I think it can.

In this with you,

c.

Have you ever pressed “publish” on a post, and been really, really scared about what other people are going to think when they read this? That’s me today. But this needs to be said. So, do you agree? Can you strike or have you struck “love on” from your vocabulary? Start today!

7 thoughts on “Dear Christian: the phrase you need to strike from your vocabulary.

  1. I am totally 100% without reservation with you on this, Cara. Slabs of meat is a good way to put it, because the phrase really does lead to objectification instead of seeing people as the wonderful individuals God made them to be.

    And frankly, it gets a little creepy when it’s said by an adult about kids and youth. Can you imagine a middle aged man saying “I’m just going to love on those teens tonight at Young Life”? Blechy-blech-blech gaaaaag.

    On the other hand, do you know how much restraint it took not to start my comment by saying that I am loving on this post? 😉 Then again, I must not be good at restraint because I said it at the end of my comment anyway. Please don’t start hating on me for it!

    1. Hmm. I thought I replied to this already …might be the new system. Anyways, slabs of meat, super creepy creeperson, and yes please to ALWAYS loving on and hating on one another’s posts!

  2. The phrase “love on” has never sat well with me… I’ve never been able to really articulate why, but you do – why can’t we just love? Period. I always loved what George Fox said: “Let your life speak.” I take that to mean, love. Not with an end goal, but simply because that’s what humans do.

    1. Same here. I think once I began to really “hear” it, I began to hear the words differently. Yes to just love!

  3. Cara, I’ve never really thought about what the phrase “loving on” actually meant. I’ve used it myself many times out of habit. Now that you point out that it’s really treating the person as an object, I’m going to be intentional about not using it. I wholeheartedly agree with your message to “love people” not love on them but really love them as people created in the image of God. Thank you for sharing your heart here. Blessings to you!

    P.S. I haven’t made the dessert yet because I lack the ingredients. Will have to remedy that soon. 🙂

    1. I think that’s the case with most everyone who uses it: we don’t think about what it might imply. (I also like that a lot of folks pointed out the creepiness of the phrase). PS: here’s to getting those ingredients, friend!!

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