Nov 16 2012

John Meunier: Love fulfills the law

Original post at http://johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/love-fulfills-the-law/

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NIV)

Paul writes in Romans that the law is fulfilled when we love our neighbor. We cannot love a person and also desire to take his car or his donkey from him. We cannot love her and kill her. We cannot love him and have sex with his wife.

So, is this saying that all the laws of the Old Testament that cannot be framed in terms of love of neighbor are void? And does that mean that we need to understand other laws as being primarily about the damage they do or intend to another person?

For instance, in what way is fornication a violation of the love of neighbor? In ancient Israel and early Christianity, I think, a young woman who had sex prior to marriage was no longer a prospect for a good marriage. She might go unmarried. Her family would never collect her bride price and remain obligated to feed her. Is this the reason fornication was considered a sin? It did harm to the woman and her family. Is it cultural? And if so, does that mean that God’s desires for our life are determined by culture? In a culture in which casual sex does not cause social or economic harm to either party, is it still a violation of the law that is fulfilled by love?

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John Meunier

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