Can You Love Public Figures?

During the whole Tyndale and Bush fiasco, and after reading Dan’s post on Love, and pondering the attacks of many commenters accusing us of being unloving toward Gary Nelson I have to keep asking myself the question if it is possible to actually love a public figure. I don’t mean if you become famous no one can love you. Rather, I wonder if you can love someone that you don’t know but only know through media, stories or rumours? There is different scenarios that come to mind that makes me question the love that people say they have for someone. Think back to the death of Princess Diana¬†and the onslaught of tears by people all over the world, most of those who have never met her. Think back just a little while ago the death of Jack Layton, and the emotional response that it drew from Canadians all over the country. Finally, think about Jesus Christ that who we read about in the bible and the connection that people have with him from all over the world, many still moved by his death and entire religions built on this one man, who none of us physically know.

When you don’t know someone, it’s not very easy to be patient, kind, non-envious, non-boastful, humble, honourable, selfless and not easily angered towards them. I would suggest rather that when you don’t know someone that all you can do is love or hate the way that person makes you feel. If the person makes you feel safe, then when that person is attacked, you feel attacked. If the person makes you feel important, then when that person is ridiculed, you feel a little bit smaller and insignificant. How does one really love someone if they don’t know them? How can one really defend someone they don’t know?

As we move forward with political elections, I’ll never cease to be amazed at the personal attacks and love letters that I read from both sides of the spectrum of people sure that there leader is amazing, perfect and without flaws and all the others are immoral, wretched people out to intentionally ruin our country. Everyone thinks they love their leader. Everyone hates the opposition. May I suggest that it’s probably the way your leader makes you feel that you love, or the fact that your leader tows the political line you lean towards. You don’t love them.

As we move forward in understanding our relationship to our faith. It’s probably good to also realize that many of us love Jesus because of the way he makes us feel, or what he does for us. Or maybe we think that Jesus just agrees with whatever we think. No wonder we love him. Most people don’t love Jesus, they love the way Jesus makes them feel.

Let’s not just assume that the feelings of comradery that we have with people, especially those we don’t know, are those of love or hate. They are probably just selfish longings that we don’t want to admit that we project on these people that we don’t know. Just a few random thoughts.

6 Comments

  • I think it’s really challenging, as it’s very hard to seperate love for an individual from the feeling that doing so somehow appears as support/approving of the things they’re doing. Does that make it “right” to “hate” ?

    No. It’s just tricky and I’m not sure how to tackle it.

    A good example is my contempt for the Conservative government in Canada. All I see is human rights abuses, greed, scandal and nothing good or redeeming. I have a hard time isolating what I believe to be a justified and righteous anger from the person behind the wrong-doings.

    • Hi,

      If Jesus lives in us we are LOVE. Galatians 4:6 says we have the spirit of his son poured into us, how can we not love. I love the man that sexually molested me when I was younger. I would do anything to help him and bless him.

      I think you can be totally opposed to someone politically and still love them deeply, not just tolerate,pray for them to be blessed and experience a greater revelation of Gods love for them. Corrie Ten Boom forgave and shook the hands of the Nazi guards a when she was in her concentration camp where her sister died of starvation. Jesus said Father forgive them, they know not what they do. I am sure I walk in deception and it is not the anger of man that achieves the righteousness of God James 1:20

      I am totally opposed to many people in office but I pray for them and want them to be blessed, the toxic culture in our politics is killing our society. I did not vote for President Obama, but as a man he deserves my respect and my prayers. I do not believe he wishes any ill will toward our country. I do not engage in any snide comments about him or his politics. I do not know his motives, only his actions. I take Epehesians 4:29 very seriously! I think it is very hard being involved in politics and keeping our hearts and tongues pure before the Lord. Bless you.

  • I have a love hate relationship with Christ. My love for Him grows because He is consistantly right and never changes. Putting my hope in a politition is a gamble at best because they are not consistantly right.

  • I’m confused at your inclusion of Christ here. Are you implying that we can’t *really* love Jesus (like we can’t really love a public figure whom we don’t know)?

  • I wasn’t going to include him, but then I thought it made the argument a little bit more interesting. There is a few ways to take it (all of which I intended somewhat)

    1. how do you love jesus unless you know him, as a call to know him through salvation.

    2. many that say they love him don’t actually love him because they don’t know him.

    3. is it ever the Christian intent to “know” or “love” Jesus, especially how we’ve explained it today? we are supposed to be the body of jesus to the rest of the world, are we able to know him? is it really a personal relationship like we’ve talked about or is it more of an inspired relationship through the H.S.

    Just a bunch of things going through my head on this one.

  • I think part of my point is that love is not an emotion that we feel but an action that we perform. This is this biggest hurdle for us: to think of love outside of the context of emotions or feelings. In this sense, regardless of the emotions we have in relation to different people, what shows love or its absence is what we do and this is why I think that we cannot do much to either love or hate people we do not encounter (public figures and so on).

    This is a conclusion I first came to after repeated interactions with good Christian folks who would get really upset when they learned about the reality of life as it is experienced by oppressed or poor people… but who then go on to do nothing about oppression or poverty. They cry at the stories and think that affirms them as loving people… when, in fact, they are often (by their actions) the opposite.

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