What’s Love Got To Do With it? Lessons in Love from William Shakespeare | Joseph Pearce | CWR
The sobering lesson of Romeo and Juliet falls today on deaf modern ears
love got to do, got to do with it,
What’s love but a second-hand emotion;
What’s love got to do, got to do with it,
Who needs a heart
When a heart can be broken.
— Tina Turner
Love is a
smoke rais’d with the fume of sighs;
Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet...
I have lost myself; I am not here:
This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.
… if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black …
Come, night; come, Romeo …
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
What is love? For Tina Turner it’s an emotion, second-hand and second-rate. For Romeo, it’s mere madness; something sweet and bitter on which we choke; something that makes us lose ourselves and our senses. For Juliet it’s a blindness that makes us prefer the darkness to the light.
For John Lennon, it’s all we need....
All we need is love, love, love is all we need; all we need is tawdry emotion and the bitter-sweet madness that makes us blind to everything except the darkness of the Night. If this is love, it can go to Hell. Indeed, if this is love it’s already going there.
But is this love?
For St. Paul, love is the greatest of all the virtues. For Christ, the two great commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor. On the deepest theological level, God is love. God and Love are One. It is ironic, therefore, that Jesus Christ and John Lennon are in apparent agreement. Love is all we need.
The problem is that John Lennon does not mean the same thing as Jesus Christ when he speaks of love. For Lennon and his legion of admirers, love is about doing our own thing; it’s about marching to our own drum. In other words, it’s ultimately self-centered. It’s about me and not the other. For Christ, love is about laying down our lives for our friends—and for our enemies. It’s ultimately selfless and self-sacrificial. It’s about the other and not me. In short, and to put the matter bluntly, the “love” that Lennon espouses is the very opposite of the love that Christ practices and preaches.
This primal difference between the two loves—one true, the other false—is at the heart of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.