Are Love and Authority Mutually Exclusive?

In the Bible, love and authority actually work together. They’re not necessarily at odds with one another.

In creation and redemption, there’s got to be a right way to do it, a right way to exercise authority. Right authority authors—gives life, gives growth like the mother mothering, the coach coaching, or the piano teacher teaching. Good authority authors; it gives life.

 

Can Love Make Commands?

When I was in high school in the mid-80s, my favorite rock artist was Sting. He has a song that says if you love someone, set them free.

Love in our view today doesn’t impose any judgments, doesn’t require anything of the one who is loved. Instead, it sets free. There’s certainly truth in that. Yet, in the Bible, love is a little more complex. God demonstrates his love for us, in part, by giving commandments. Jesus says, “If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.”

So in the Bible, love and authority actually work together. They’re not necessarily at odds with one another.

Fallen Authority

Authority is a difficult topic. There’s a reason people are afraid of it. Authority in the fall is abusive and it’s used to exploit, harm, and oppress.

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This article is adapted from The Rule of Love: How the Local Church Should Reflect God’s Love and Authority by Jonathan Leeman; used with permission.