There’s an old song from the 1960s called You Don’t Own Me, by Leslie Gore. It’s been covered by other artists and used in movies as well. One of the lines in the song says, “Please, when I go out with you, don’t put me on display.” This line came to mind recently when I was thinking about how Christians are supposed to love each other. Scripture says that the world will know we are Christians by our love for one another. The world is supposed to see us and remark, “See how they love each other!”
The girl in the song is upset because her boyfriend uses her to put on a show. He displays her as a trophy. His public affection for her is designed to make him look good to others. What others see is not real but a display. It is an illusion. Contrast this scenario with couples that genuinely and obviously love each other. Their concern is for each other, not for how others perceive them. They are in love. They are friends. They treat each other with respect and kindness even when they disagree or feel angry. Upon observing such couples, one naturally notices their deep love. Many will remark, “I wish I had that.” Those around them notice the love, not because the couples tried to be noticed, but because the love between them is real and desireable.
Christians don’t need phony displays of affection towards each other. We don’t need the “kiss of peace” in public and the “kiss of betrayal” when backs are turned. We don’t need a false ecumenism. Don’t pretend to love each other because it looks good to others. Don’t pretend to love others so people will think you are a great Christian. Really love each other even in the midst of disagreements. Really love each other and it will automatically have an appeal to the world because the world is thirsting for genuine love. The world has a void that only the love of God can fill. Christians are called to demonstrate that love. Don’t put your Christian sisters and brothers on display. Love them, even when it hurts. Seek unity. Where there is division, there is sin. Where there is sin, there is disobedience to the faith and to the love of Christ.