Is the to Call Love one another a Call for Equality?
Updated: May 16
In thinking about the meaning of 'love one another', I realized that love is about serving and putting the other person’s concerns first. It also means the other person serving you first; loving one another and serving one another is mutual. It is the opposite of commanding, giving orders, or being authoritarian or patriarchal. The very call for us to love one another is a call for the equality of women and men.
Jesus compares himself to the rulers of the world, who exercise power and authority over others. He says this is not the way for his followers to behave. He calls each of us to serve others, for even Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life for others (Mark 10:42-45).
After Jesus humbled himself by washing his disciple's feet, he explained the meaning behind his actions. “Do you understand what I have just done for you?.....I have set an example for you so that you will do just what I have done for you.” (John 13:12-17). Jesus was setting an example to show his followers to love one another by humbly serving one another.
At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus said “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 13:24-35) We are commanded to love one another in John 15:12 and John 15:17. If we do not have love, we are not following Jesus, and our actions reflect badly on Christ. Lording over one another, using authority to make up rules, giving orders and commanding obedience is the opposite of loving one another.
In fact, the phrase “one another” means serving each other mutually. It means men and women giving and taking helping one another reciprocally. It goes completely against an authoritarian structure where one group or individual is consistently in the service role and the reciprocal partner is never in that role. The golden rule is to do to others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12) means treating others with the same care you would give to your own body, being respectful of women and men, of any race, religion or sexual orientation: loving them.
The phrase 'one another' occurs 100 times in the New Testament, including things like:
· Accept one another
· Tolerate one another
· Be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving to one another
· Be devoted to one another in love
· Serve one another
· Pray for one another
Given this understanding of love, it would seem that the biblical call to love one another encourages equality among believers of all genders and excludes patriarchal domination.