Love is an Ability


In one of my favorite movies, Dan in Real Life, Dan is telling the boyfriend of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Marty, that he should stop seeing her; love, after all, can be such a dangerous feeling.


“Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”



The other night, as many of you know, I spent two hours in a severe tongue lashing from a fellow Christian brother who lamented over the fact that some folks, like myself, were openly questioning Church tradition regarding same-sex relationships. I asked him what his thoughts were on how he should treat his gay or lesbian neighbors and he replied with this. You can probably guess it before it’s even said.


“I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.”


I found myself laying in bed that night thinking about what people truly meant when they said it, and furthermore, what it really means to love.


And my mind wandered back to Dan and Marty.


Love is an ability.



Most of the time, an ability is not given, it is grown. You have to feed it and nourish it and work like hell to make sure it thrives through each and every season. Love is no different.


I am convinced that saying you love someone doesn’t count as love. I am also convinced that willing your mind to love someone that you’ve never reached out and touched, doesn’t add up to much.


Love cannot exist merely in the mind, it has to have legs and arms and kisses-to-give in order for it to be real. Feelings are fickle and don’t reflect love, because there are so many people in my life that drive me mad, but my love for them never ceases. Feelings are far away from ability.


Love cannot choose ignorance. It doesn’t describe a five second Google search of “homosexuality + Bible verse” as a true study of scripture. It strains the soul through prayer as it pleads for divine revelation. Love looks deep into the wisdom of others. It applies the mind in understanding the text by digging into cultural context, church tradition, the aim of the author and consistency of scripture.


Love is born through deposits of affection. It is intentional. It takes effort. You cannot love someone until you know someone and there is a clear-cut difference between knowing of someone and really knowing someone. You can put people on pedestals, but you can’t love them until you know them. You can leave the word love as the lasting residue of your rant, but you don’t love the folks you’re talking about, not really.


Love needs more time, likely more than the minutes you have to offer it. You need to sacrifice some schedule space for the other if you want it to be real. Love gets up at the crack of dawn because the other has classes and work, leaving them with little time to talk over coffee. It prioritizes the other person. Love makes the other matter more to you than the frivolous things of this life.


Love wears a cape. It arrives before it is even called upon. Love surrenders its shoulders to runny noses. It holds no pre-requisite for its remedies and it does not ask for that which is inappropriate. It comes without strings and is abundant in grace. It just wants to sit, just wants to listen, just wants to nod and stay until you’ve said all you need to say.


Love doesn’t dip into your past like a paintbrush to create an idea of who you must be today. Love asks questions and honors how far you have come. Love doesn’t whisper about you- it converses with you. The most unloving words can be said in the name of love, when the person of discussion isn’t present at your Bible Study.


Love is the two-minute response my mom received from the good people at the Marin Foundation regarding her endless list of questions. Love is the calls that were answered on our way to our first Living in the Tension gathering. Love is Laura who waited outside the Church building for God knows how long until our taxi pulled up. Love is the hug she gave us when we went for the handshake.


Love dwells. It doesn’t stop by on its own terms and convenience. Love is born into the dumpster of poverty. It snuggles with the shipwrecked instead of rolling with royalty. It goes off the map into dangerous territory because there’s a woman at a well that needs to know something. Love selflessly dies for those indifferent to its sacrifice. It rises three days later, because it never ever fails.


Love is engagement. It is entering into polar opposite worlds. It lives and moves and breathes, and is only real if it exists in both the heart and the hands.


Growing in love is messy and exhausting and tedious. But little by little it gets easier. Our jagged edges get sanded down. After all the stumbling and tumbling and screw-ups along the way, it will become an essential part of how we live. We will experience it in one another without thinking or trying. We will live to love. Truly.


And it will be as easy as breathing.




  • Survivor Girl007

    “Love dwells. It doesn’t stop by on its own terms and convenience. Love is born into the dumpster of poverty. It snuggles with the shipwrecked instead of rolling with royalty. It goes off the map into dangerous territory because there’s a woman at a well that needs to know something. Love selflessly dies for those indifferent to its sacrifice. It rises three days later, because it never ever fails.”

    These are seriously some of the most beautiful words – and description of Jesus – my eyes have ever stumbled upon. I must share them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • registeredrunaway

      Thank you for remaining in my life SG. Have I told you that every time my email buzzes and it says that “Survivor Girl” has left a comment, I get pumped? Without fail I am always encouraged by your notes and I am so glad this post really resonated with you. You’re the best SG!

  • Kevin Shoop (@shoopscope)

    I agree. This is one to print and frame. Thank you so much for this beautiful post.

    • registeredrunaway

      Thank you sir!

  • David

    Incredible, RR. Thanks for spreading the love.

    • registeredrunaway

      I’m a fan of your work over at Gay Christian, Very Anxious. Glad to see you pop up on the thread! Thanks for the kind words David.

  • dlaiden

    Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I forgot how much I missed your writing! In the midst of a large debate over here in England, where our admittedly rubbish government is voting to let same-sex couples marry and other says this is false love; this is absolutely refreshing. I loathe that ‘hate the sinner’ phrase. It is a way for many Christians to get out of an argument with a single, completely mindless and loveless phrase. Great post as always, RR.

    • registeredrunaway

      Dlaiden, I have missed your presence on the threads! Its great to see you back here. I cannot TELL YOU how much the “love the sinner…” cliche rips away under my skin. It is the most painful thing for us to hear. When I write about these things, its always good to know that I am not alone, and I think of your work over on your blog. None of us are alone! We are bounded by God’s love.

  • Julie (@InciteFaith)

    Absolutely LOVE this post! Agree with Survivor Girl, best depiction of Jesus I’ve read. So beautiful, RR!

    • registeredrunaway

      Thank you Julie! I think you and Survivor Girl should talk because, you are incredibly awesome and may be the best person I know at asking questions, and Survivor Girl is just a wonderful person to talk to that cares so much about loving one another and being an ally. You two are major blessings to me.

  • Melle

    This is beautiful writing! I just wanted to say — thank you. It hasn’t been long since I found your blog and I have been stopping by to catch up on your posts. I’m not LGBT, but your writing speaks to me and helps me on sad days, as I think it does for so many others. Again, thank you.

  • Olivia


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  • LauraSC

    I am so glad Upside Down Rebecca found you and let her followers share your beautiful, thought provoking words and ideas. Love is so much easier to talk about than to actuate. I am always looking for new perspectives on the truth of love. Thanks for sharing yours. I will save this on my computer so I can come back and ponder again.

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  • Robin Atkins

    “Love wears a cape… Love dwells… Love needs more time… ” This is poetry, and I love it. Thank you for this easy-to-breathe, loving post!