Can You Love Your Enemies TOO Much?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

Love Story or Something Else?

Is this a classic love story?

Girl meets boy at her job.

Because the girl Vicky is in a position of power, she begins doing extra favors for the boy, Casey. She gives him an extra snack here and there. A privilege now and again that she gives no one else.

But she’s not supposed to date someone under her.

The closer Vicky grows to Casey, the more she needs a plan to be with him forever.

She begins preparing for a new life with him. She sells her house. She puts in retirement papers.

Then the big day arrives to put the plan into motion. That day was a week ago, Friday, April 29, 2022.

A Prison Break

I first heard about their relationship Friday night. I got a missing person alert on my phone.

Vicki White was missing, a 25-year veteran of the department of corrections and the assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Alabama.

Also missing was Lauderdale County inmate Casey White (same last name, but not related), a capital murder suspect where Vicki worked. 

Vicky was supposedly driving Casey from the jail to the courthouse for a mental health evaluation. But they never showed up.

It was a prison break.

We typically think of guards and prisoners as enemies. But are these two now lovers?

casey white and vicky white

Who Is Your Enemy?

Because I recently finished Catherine McNiel’s new book, Fearing Bravely: Risking Love for Our Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies, I ask myself in light of Vicki and Casey’s story: Can we love our enemies TOO much?

In the book, McNiel says the word Jesus uses for enemies is not a noun (such as a specific group of people), but an adjective (the way we describe people).

“It could be translated ‘hated people’ or ‘odious people.’ In other words, enemies are the people I hate. Those who are odious to me.

In addition to praying for those trying to harm us, we are to actively love those who repulse us.”

This makes me pause. I typically think: I don’t have any enemies!

But are there people who get on my nerves? People I’d rather never be around? People who are “odious” to me? Yes.

You, too? Maybe the people you dislike—your enemies—are members of another political party. Or people with annoying personalities. Or those on the opposite side of the abortion debate.

In Fearing Bravely, McNiel uses immigrants as one example. Data shows that the majority of Americans in every demographic group support welcoming refugees into the United States EXCEPT for white evangelical Christians.

Additionally, McNiel says,

“Poll after poll suggests that white American evangelicals like myself are twice as likely to believe our safety is threatened by those around us; far more likely to claim long-debunked hoaxes as truth; and out of all Americans, most likely to be viewed by our neighbors as hateful.

Ouch.

Instead of being known for loving others, Christians today are more known for being afraid of others.

Fearing Bravely goes on to encourage us to turn this around. To stop valuing our safety above all, and to instead do what Jesus said: Love above all.

Fearing Bravely

Can You Love Too Much?

Is this what Vicki was doing when she coordinated a prison break with Casey, putting love above all?

While they may be “in love,” breaking convicted criminals out of jail doesn’t fit our definition of love.

By running away with Casey, Vicki potentially put multiple lives in danger, releasing Casey back into society. That’s in no one’s best interest, including hers or Casey’s.

As of Monday, May 9, Vicki and Casey were identified and chased down in Indiana. Police apprehended Casey.

But Vicki? Unfortunately, she’s now dead. Casey said Vicki shot herself. 

So is it possible to love our enemies TOO much? (It’s rarely a question we ever face.)

The question itself depends on a proper definition of love and of enemy.

But if true love—agape love—is acting in the best interest of another’s highest good, like God loves us, then no, we can never love ANYBODY too much, friend or foe.

Jesus puts no cap on agape love. His love for us is limitless.

Aren’t we glad?

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My thanks to NetGalley + Tyndale House
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6 thoughts on “Can You Love Your Enemies TOO Much?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. blankBarbara Harper

    I just heard about this story on the news. I hope no harm comes to her–I’m afraid she may have been taken in by him, playing up to her as if he were interested only to use her to escape. I agree, this was not an example of agape love.

    Interesting take on the word “enemies.” I had never heard before that it was an adjective, but it makes sense. Most of us don’t have enemies per se, but we all have people who push our buttons in some way. My tendency is to keep my distance, but God calls us to actively love.

  2. blankBarb Hegreberg

    This book has been on my to-be-read list for a while. It may be time to move it closer to the top of the list. You exposed some unflattering things about white American Christians that make me uncomfortable. We have to do better!

  3. blankDavid

    The word used for “enemies” in Matthew 5:43-4 (& Luke 6:27) is ‘echthros’ = “hostile”. I’ve seen “hostile” used as a noun in American English (“the hostiles prepared to attack”). So, not so much the people who you hate, as the people who are hostile to you. “Love your haters” maybe. As your case study shows, working out what the phrase means is only the beginning of the puzzle.

    I have no doubt I often act as a “hater” to Christ. Yes, I am very glad He follows this principle and shows me the way.

  4. blankMaureen

    It’s an interesting topic. I am not sure how to answer. While I want to say I treat everyone with kindness, I am afraid, I don’t love my “frenemies.” Meaning, I would rather part ways and call it a day. If I cross paths with them, I would say hello and acknowledge. But my heart would be closed up for trying again. I hope this partially made sense.

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

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