#166 | Andrea Scott | Add a Definition of Love

Submission 166
Andrea Scott
Prairie UU Society (Madison, WI) 8412

What is your suggestion or idea?

Add a definition of love. It’s way too vague there are many kinds of love and it doesn’t mention which it is referring to. It’s extremely confusing.

Keep the focus on racial justice however add other marginalized people such as the poor, which often combines with racism to make increased marginalization. Systemic racism is an extremely important issue but so is systemic classism. In addition there are transgenders peoples that are marginalized that also can intersect with race as well as class. I also witness stories of people trying to join as UU but find it too difficult being very young, disabled, or having very young children. Being more inclusive in an equitable way about other marginalizations would be extremely beneficial to these people.

If we keep the first principle and add a statement about race to it I think most UU people would come to a consensus that it would be acceptable.

We need to add something about protecting and or valuing environment since often the most marginalized people are the most impacted by the negative effects of climate change. These are often people that have marginalizations that intersect with very few if any privileges. It is the most important to suppose these people and give voice to them since they are the most effected by devastating consequences of climate change.

Keep values of democracy expand by adding better ideas like consensus, and the most possible choices to choose from for the elections.

Thank you! Keep up the good discussions and openness.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Ii see a lot of unnecessary conflict about changes to UU principals we need to support all the various marginalized people by adding their voice to our process.

Instead we should be working to improve democracy in our UU org.

We need the correct combination of language used in our articles not to trigger people who suffered past traumatic experiences at other faith churches.

We need to focus more energy on what we can do to make climate change less bad to help everyone but the most marginalized people with the most intersections and least privileges more since they end up with the contaminated water, dead wildlife, stolen resources, exploited labor, etc.

We need to defend democracy more since it has been under attack everywhere. Protecting democracy will ensure freedom of religions as well as a separation of church and state. Democracy requires many multiple realistic options.

If any of the new changes to the article are confusing too vague or offend too many people UU as a whole will suffer with people leaving the community and therefore we will have less funds to continue to fight for important issues.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

Yes this month we had a Sunday service about this and we all talked to each other during comments. Rev Matt Aspin was extremely helpful for everyone to see and understand the importance of anti racist statements. The above comments of mine on this form steam form experiences stated of. Fellow UUs at the meeting views of combined would lead to more agreement on this issue.


I agree that we need a definition of love. Here’s one that I’ve discussed with several members of my congregation: Unconditional compassion and respect for all in the human family, including ourselves.

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I believe what’s at the center is whatever is strong enough to impel us off paths of least resistance and onto paths of practicing, more radically, the values of interdependence, equity, transformation, pluralism, generosity, and justice. This is the love that emerges from awareness of our sacred interconnection.
It’s love for, and found within, the whole. It’s the love that acts as catalyst, propelling us into action in accordance with our values.

I am adding to this discussion but the content above starts off in another direction, not with clarity for a Love Definition. We discussed this at the Unitarian Univeraslist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley, Joseph Priestley District.

We noted that love has been too easily abused (e.g. Anita Bryant and “love the sinner, hate the sin” wherein homosoexuals were loved but their expression of homosexuality was “hated”) This can cause cognitive dissonance at the very least.

The main suggestion was to clarify how the rest of article II actually does define love, so it could include a phrase like, “Love is defined by:” and then proceed with Justice. We work to be diverse…" This adds only 4 words to what is already there.

This definition of Love resonates beautifully. Respect is the core foundation of love.

A fellow congregant at USNF suggested adding respect to my definition, and I’m so glad they did.

I like Teresa’s definition of love, and would like to see an amendment that proposes that we begin the list of values by defining love:

Love: Unconditional compassion and respect for all in the human family, including ourselves.

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Thank you, Corky. So many people have suggested that we need a definition of love, that I hope such an amendment will be proposed and adopted at GA.

I agree we need to be more specific when we use the term love. I think whatever definition we use needs to include white supremacists and neo-nazis.

Hi. I don’t understand what you mean here. Could you expand, please?

[quote=“Corky, post:7, topic:271”]
Love: Unconditional compassion and respect for all in the human family, including ourselves.
[/quote]. If we use the above quote as our definition of love, then that means everyone. That
includes white supremists and neo-nazis. In a way, this is only saying the obvious. But I have
heard UUs talk about certain groups of people in a way that didn’t sound compassionate nor
respectful to me. We also need to include Christian Fundamentalists and anyone else who
we have been hurt by. Is that clearer?

Yes. That is clearer, thank you.

I was just getting ready to fact check a communication from an artist friend. He wrote:

“Why I fear religion.
Christian hate preacher Jason Graber
‘Any parents that would have their child have a transgender surgery done on them? Any parent that would do that? They just need to be shot in the back of the head. They need to be convicted in trial and immediately shot in the back of the head, okay? And then we can string them up above a bridge… so that the public can see the consequences of that kind of wickedness…’.”

So do I have ‘unconditional compassion and respect’ for such? No. Absolutely not. Such persons must be recognized for the heinous, horrific damage they do to others. For the horrific damage they do our society and world. Prosecute to the full extent of the law as possible. Note I did not say ‘persecute.’ I said prosecute within the law. Etc etc.

So the next question would be: what would you think “unconditional compassion and respect” looks like in such an instance? But really I do not want to go further into this conversation.

So thank you for clarifying.

Bek Wheeler
UU Fellowship of the Peninsula
Newport News, VA

You’re describing one of our biggest challenges, Rebecca. To truly be accepting, respectful and welcoming to all, even those we disagree with and whose beliefs or actions threaten us. That’s one of the reasons I am concerned about Section C-2.4, labeled Inclusion, but only for those “who share our values.” UUs certainly aren’t the only group that struggles to fully live our values, but I think it’s important for us to recognize this about ourselves and push ourselves - individually and collectively - toward spiritual growth in our practice of acceptance and welcoming. That’s one reason I support centering love in the A2 amendment. I hope it will lead us to work together as UUs to define and practice love in action. Can we strive to make “unconditional” really mean “unconditional?” It won’t be easy, but from a process theology perspective, I hope we can continue on this path as a denomination. I know many congregations have worked hard on this and have already made significant progress.

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Well. Respectful, yes. Surely. Would you welcome the “Christian” pastor I quoted above? “Unconditional?” Nope. There is no unconditional. I will never buy into that. Violence is not to be welcomed and loved. Right. Love the sinner hate the sin. I do not aspire to “love unconditionally.” These may be words I will not say if they pass.

This discussion brings me back to affirming ‘the inherent worth and dignity of every person.’ And underscoring why a vague use of the word “love” is useless as a core value. We all define it according to our experiences. Or as Linus said in the Peanuts comic strip: I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.


My point is that it is a dangerous path to use our values to decide who is in and who is out. If we do that we risk behaving like the pastor you describe, just from the other end of the political spectrum. I would hope that I could welcome a homophobic person without having to agree with their toxic ideas. If we can’t enter into dialogue with people we disagree with because we shun them, there is less hope for the transformation we desire. In my experience, that transformation can come from respectful relationships and dialogue, and is unlikely without them. Can we respect those who don’t respect us? My answer is, “I hope so.”


Hello, Andrea.
My name is Denise Frizzell and I am a long time UU. I am currently a member with the Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham, NC and am serving as a GA delegate this year.

I agree wholeheartedly with your expressed concerns about the necessity to add specific language that addresses the unprecedented challenge of global climate change and severe environmental degradation.

Thus, I wanted to let you and anyone reading this post know that I submitted the following amendment today (see below). If either of you are serving as a delegate, I invite you to support it. If you are not, I invite you to share with your congregation’s delegates and invite them to consider supporting it.

Thank you.

With active hope for a healthy, peace-filled, just, and sustainable planet for all life,
Denise Frizzell

C-2.6. Earth Solidarity.
Earth, our beautiful blue boat home, is in great peril. Humanity, all sentient beings, and nature itself face numerous unprecedented challenges to life as we now know it and take for granted. Climate change, mass extinction of species, desertification, deforestation, massive die-off of coral reefs, and pollution threaten to disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems on which we all depend. At this historical and evolutionary crossroads, where every choice matters, we are called to bridge our differences and call upon our shared heritage, principles, and values to unite as Unitarian Universalists to transform ourselves and our consumer culture and invest in real solutions at every level of society for a thriving common future for all life

I suggest that identifying people with qualities or characteristics they a living by or displaying in the present or any other moment is problematic. Identifying someone as a sinner or neo-nazi, etc. is leaning towards identifying the person as fixed in a life or a behavior that is unchangeable. The “inherent worth and dignity of every person” encourages me to think that there is something of goodness to seek and encourage in each person. Can someone change? We don’t know. Should we assume they can’t? If we assume they can’t, I think that leaves us in a place of supporting the harmful behavior. This is not the same a permissiveness of all behavior. I believe working to prevent people (including ourselves) from doing harm through applying the most effective degree of influence or force is an expression of love. The person may not be accepting of this or love us in return, but it saves the person from digging themselves further into a pattern of harm.

Defining love as the central value is important, particularly since in the purpose, it’s only referred to as “liberating love.” Love isn’t just a feeling or an experience but shown in deeds of kindness: it’s how we strive to act.

You may want to consider:
Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love, which we define as the source that compells us to treat each other with unconditional compassion, respect, and kindness.

Love is our shared values in action. (To me, love is not a feeling, it is how we ACT. We can live according to our principles or values even when facing others who are behaving deplorably. We can choose to live with love, compassion, nonviolence even in the presence of hate, fear and violence.)