Love & Kindness are Not the Same

John ArmstrongLove

C. S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, argues that love and kindness are not the same. I think his distinction is immensely helpful and quite important. He says that there is a kindness in love, "but love and kindness are not coterminous. Kindness, when it is separated from the other elements that are present in true love, is indifferent to its object. Kindness (alone) does not truly care if the object becomes good or bad providing it escapes suffering. Many parents, for example, believe that they love their children but what they actually give them is the type of kindness Lewis speaks of, a kindness that is absent real love. Simply put, they spoil them with this type of kindness.

Lewis argued that when we truly love someone we will always show more than this type of kindness. We are even willing to allow those we love to suffer if it will benefit them in the long term. Writes Lewis, "You asked for a loving God; you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect,’ is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the world, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes."

Moderns have confused these two and Christians are as guilty as most. This is one major reason why we do not love our neighbor, and the people of God, as we should.  "Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God, Everyone who loves knows God and has been born of God" (1 John 4:7).