What Brings Us Together: Love as a Common Theological Core

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The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association shared this reflection on love, with along with the charge to the Article II Study Commission. The Article II Study Commission shares it with you, with the invitation to reflect on how love shapes you and your communal life.

Love as a Common Theological Core

In calling for this commission to root itself in a shared, core theological value, we—the Board—are asking the question "what is it that lies behind all the statements of principles that we agree to as our common associational points of covenant?" What lies beneath the principles, on which a commission can re-envision and re-articulate the ideas that are expressed currently in our existing principles and include, potentially, other ideas put forth to be considered for that restated covenant?

Asserting that there is such a commonality is bold; it potentially flies in the face of the Commission on Appraisal's 2005 Report, "Engaging Our Theological Diversity," which failed to identify such a core in its conclusion.

We hold that the Commission did not fail to identify that core, only to recognize it at the time, as our theological core.

In its report, it cites Robert Miller's study of Unitarian Universalism, stating "UUs ranked loving as an instrumental value and mature love as a terminal value more highly than did respondents from other groups, religious and nonreligious."

UUs were more likely, even before 2005, to assert the importance of love than any other group, religious or nonreligious. And this was before the campaign now known as Side with Love began. Since that time, we have seen and heard expressions of love, and displays of love-in-action, by UUs.

We assert that our deepest common theological grounding and value is this: Love.

We find it peeking through the words of the currently existing Principles. We see it in our insistence on the worth and dignity of every person (and the calls by some that this insistence needs to extend to all other beings, as well). We see it in the call for demanding and embodying justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. We hear it in our urging of acceptance of one another and our support for each person's spiritual growth. We discern an accountable love in our call for a responsible search for truth and meaning. Our affirmation of the right of conscience, and the right of every individual to participate in shaping those institutions that govern them, displays a deep respect and love for every person. We hold up the goal of a peaceful, free, and just world community as an expression of what love can and should bring into being. And we believe that our call to respect the interdependent web that we are a part of is an articulation of love for all that is and our own place and role in that web.

We see love called out as what demands that we be active in our justice work and justice-making.

We note that our hymnals contain many assertions of what we aspire to, and what love can do, and be; "Let us build a home where love can dwell," "Love will guide us," and "we are answering the call of love" among them.

We respond to the call of love because it is our common theological core. It is what can and does motivate us and illuminates our deepest commitments to each other.