“Because God loves us …” – a simple but important fact which we forget quite often nowadays

“Every day we have to obey rules and laws. There are government laws, and regulations, religious laws, and rules where we work. Schools have many rules. There are traffic rules, and even rules about borrowing money from a bank. Without rules and laws our society would be ruined and there would be much suffering. Because God loves us, he also has given us many rules and laws in the Bible.”

༄༅།།དཀོན་མཆོག་གི་བཀའ་ཁྲིམས་བཅུའི་འགྲེལ་བཤད་བཞུགས་སོ།། བོད་དབྱིན་ཤན་སྦྱར། / Commentary on God’s Ten Commandments, Tibetan-English Edition. Gsungrab, 2017. 

The Commentary on the Ten Commandments is very interesting. At first, it rightly points out that we are always confronted with laws. Nonetheless, I want to emphasize that laws have different sources. The laws of government, school or bank are arbitrarily in a certain way, because they are man-made, in other words: they could have been different and might be object to change as well. The bank could change its rules at any time. The second category, however, is different: these are laws given by God, and I differentiate between natural laws and divine law. Natural law is the law according to which nature works, because it was created by God in this way, so nature cannot act differently as it does, because it follows the law of nature. Anyways, nature has no ethical components, so here we have divine law: it is the law revealed to human-beings by God. Now, I asked myself of course: Why has God created this world and why did He give us His commandments? Or in my Jewish outlook: Why did He give us Torah? And interestingly, this Tibetan Christian book, gave me the answer: Because God loves us!

And this is fascinating, because I pointed out previously, from both angles, Jewish and Buddhist, that God is love, and I also pointed out that He acts out of love and creates, because He loves us and wanted us, but I seemingly did not realize how big God’s love actually is! Why does He want us? – Because He loves us! It is really that simple and all the time I didn’t notice the very consequences out of this very simple fact. Also God knows who we are, no matter how much we try to hide in front of Him or even if we try to run away, such as Jonah did [Wes Heppner: Geschicht von Jonah. The Gospel Message Radio Ministry, 2021 (Available in Menonite Low German and English); Winfried Vogel (Hrsg.): Die Bibel – Das Leben. Hoffnung auf Ruhe: Keine Flucht vor Gott. Hope Media, 2021]. God knows everything about us, and we cannot run away from God.

I also want to recall what knowledge is: Knowledge is nothing more than remembering what our soul already knows, or to put it in Platonic terms as given in his Phaedo, knowledge is ἀνάμνησις – meaning “re-remembrance“ – because we remember again what we already remembered before, so it is not acquiring something new at all. Also in Judaism, knowledge has a metaphysical connotation. The word “remembering” contains the word for male in Hebrew language, and the word “observing” the word for female, making a yin-yang duality. So knowledge is neither male nor female, but holistic. Knowledge is divine, so sex and knowledge might share a certain connection. Mechon Mamre closes this gap by stating: “Sex is not seen as a necessary evil for the sole purpose of procreation. […] But when sexual desire is satisfied between a husband and wife at the proper time and out of mutual love and desire, sexual relations are actually a mitzvah (a Biblical commandment, see Exodus 21,10 referring to ‘conjugal rights’ and the commentary on it). […] For Torah, sex is not merely a way of experiencing physical pleasure. It is properly an act of immense significance, which requires commitment and responsibility” [Mechon Mamre: Kosher Sex. No date. https://www.mechon-mamre.org/jewfaq/sex.htm, retrieved on 8 June 2019]. So we are in a holy connection, unity, whole-heartedly, where two souls become one. And Tina Schermer-Sellers adds: “The written Torah uses the root word Yod-Dalet-Ayin, meaning ‘to know,’ to describe sexual intimacy as a knowledge of your spouse in mind, soul, and body. This word illustrates all sexuality, the act of knowing another in Yod-Dalet-Ayin, is meant to involve the whole of a person—the heart and mind—not merely the body” [Tina Schermer-Sellers: The Vow of ‘Onah and Other Jewish Attitudes About Sex. Website of Tina Schermer-Sellers, 11 February 2011. http://tinaschermersellers.com/2011/02/12/the-vow-of-onah-and-other-jewish-attitudes-about-sex/, retrieved on 8 June 2019]. Therefore, we should also know our partner, we should gain true knowledge about him or her, and not only focus on superficial characteristics, such as aesthetic beauty which is only artificial and not bound to the soul. Therefore, true love means knowledge, such as God knows us and loves us without boundary. And while we naturally have an intimacy with God, human-beings are separated from each other, so to unify, one must become corporal. Anyways, not the bodily act is in the foreground, but the unification of the souls which missed each other, as we know from Plato’s Symposium.

Finally, we also find all this in the Tibetan tradition as well. The deities in traditional religion often have a male and female version, and are sometimes drawn in unification. So they both unfold together. Additionally, we find the Gankyil, a wheel which has three or four segments, which inherits different triunes or tetrads, and despite having a third (and sometimes forth) segment, it strongly reminds us of the Taiji, the yin and yang, which in the Gankyil emanates the wisdom of the world. In its function, it can be equaled to the Taiji: it unites the forces in its highest and is needed to unfold the Creation in its manifestation. As such, it is a door to the Law, for instance, if we realize the three poisons which hinder us from wisdom and knowledge, and therefore from joy; the triratna, which reminds us of seeking refuge in the teaching, the Buddha and the community; the three higher trainings which are discipline, meditation and wisdom, etc. We can also project this on a Christian setting: the Law is needed to unfold a harmonious society in which a joyful and blissful life is possible and to do so, the believer has to seek refuge to God His Creator, accept His teachings and gather with the community to knit the bond. He needs discipline in His devotion for God, meditation and prayer to communicate with Him, wisdom to act deliberately, etc. Nonetheless, and this is the striking point in my philosophy – as Kant already showed – natural law is not ethical but biological, and ethics is not biological as it is not determined unlike natural law. Thus, biology, physics, chemistry explain the laws of nature and therefore the manifestation of God’s Creation, which we should be grateful for; and ethics explains options for conscious choices, the way in which we interact towards nature, though these choices should be in accordance with the Divine Law, which God revealed to human-beings, as they have a free will, and are – unlike his surrounding nature – not determined. But the Creation as a whole makes a unity, we cannot separate ourselves out of our environment, the way we treat the planet has an immediate impact on us.

Timo Schmitz, 12 January 2023


7 thoughts on ““Because God loves us …” – a simple but important fact which we forget quite often nowadays

  1. The law of God isn’t a bunch of rules impossible to keep. God’s law is Love. Love your neighbors as yourself comes naturally when your not blinded by hate.

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