We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite ignore the man lying damaged in the road, only the Samaritan (a member of a despised group) stops to help the wounded man. We are being told that the action of love, not an individual’s status, is the measurement of love.
Fewer perhaps know Boule de Suif, a story by Guy de Maupassant – perhaps his most famous. A coach of French bourgeoisie is escaping from the Hun lines. In their number is Boule de Suif — a prostitute. The other passengers deplore her presence, though they are quite happy to share her food. The Huns capture them: their price for escape is the willingness of Boule de Suif to sleep with them. She refuses, she hates the Huns. The passengers all demand that she should pay this price for their liberty. Under enormous pressure she eventually agrees, and they are released. On the rest of the journey they do not share their food with the prostitute and continue to regard her as dross.
We might imagine that, a few miles, further on, a Hun shell hits the coach: everyone is killed. Now, for the next five minutes, you are God. How will you judge the coach load? Do you favour the bourgeoisie – religiously orthodox and given to correct behaviour? Or do you prefer the whore who, even in her good intention, employs an activity which is evil in itself and directly against the Natural Law.
I am talking about love. On several occasions in the New Testament we are reminded that the Law exists because it is the basis for love. The Ten Commandments, and their extension to the whole web of morality, tell us how we must express our love – through positive and negative choices. And we are continually reminded that to breach the law even if the ultimate intention is loving cannot be excused. To take two obvious examples: first, the Allies’ destruction of civilian towns in WWII; second, a homosexual who enters a committed relationship with another homosexual, and believes it to be marriage.