#262 | Virginia Zimmerman | Love: Less Emphasis or Define

Submission 262
Virginia Zimmerman
UU Congregation of Susquehanna Valley (Northumberland, PA) 7320

What is your suggestion or idea?

I would like the word ““love”” to either be given less emphasis or be defined. In the graphic showing the six values arising from ““love,”” ““love”” could be replaced with a chalice. In the text of Article II, most uses of the word ““love”” could be replaced with ““our shared values.””

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Other commenters have mentioned the Christian use of the word, and this is a concern I would like to lift up. The concern I would like to add to the conversation is about the slippery meaning of the word ““love.”” It is capacious, which can be good, but in meaning nearly everything, it ultimately means almost nothing.

Which form of love do we mean? Do we mean agape, Christian love? If so, that leans into Christianity in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Do we mean respect? Do we mean value? Do we mean cherish? Do we mean personal love or something more abstract? What is liberating love?

I have faith in UU congregations to have long, robust, deeply meaningful conversations about what ““love”” means, but I have concerns about making an ill- or not-defined word so central in Article II.

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

I raised these concerns in a small group discussion with 12 members of my congregation. Some did not seem to share my concern; others agreed that ““love”” has many meanings, some of which are problematic. One person suggested that instead of considering love as at the center of our values, we rather consider how our values (and the actions they require us to take) create love. To me, this is a step towards a generative definition of what we mean when we use the word.