The Greek word for love that depends on natural affection, storgē (στοργή), is not used anywhere in the Bible. It is only used in compound forms, two of which are very striking. Paul uses the negative, without natural affection, as a severe condemnation in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. The English Standard version touches the word’s core when it uses heartless as its equivalent in these passages.
What could be more opposite of the love of God than being heartless? When we think of spiritual heartlessness, we think of Satan and demons. Those who are heartless are cruel, merciless, and closed to any plea, unless it might come with some personal gain. There is no honor, no duty, no natural affection.
The context of Paul’s use of astorgē in Romans 1:31 comes from verse 25 and 28:
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:25,28
Many of you know that I came out of twenty-seven years in the Episcopal Church. It has fallen on very hard times and those two verses describe its current state most accurately. Rather than hold fast to the “faith once delivered” which by vow their ministerium was required to champion, it exchanged the truth about God for a lie.
People often asked me why Bishop John Shelby Spong stayed in the Episcopal Church since everything he stood for stood against the historic Christian faith his office represented. That was easy, the trappings gave him legitimacy, voice, significance. Without them, he was just another crackpot spouting New Age psychobabel and word salad. He was and is the epitome of dishonesty.
What years ago began with a few embarrassments like Spong and Bishop Pike before him, now has become the entrenched norm within the once worthy edifice. They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and focused on the creature (even if it is mankind) rather than the creator, and entered the natural progression of such sin. The mind of the Church as a whole has become debased, heartless when it comes to the real things of God, including God’s children, those believer’s placed in their care.
The progression in Romans is to embrace homosexuality and lesbianism, to make it acceptable (they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 1:32b). ECUSA has followed the progression Paul outlined and they are about to seal the door of their soul. It has been sad and frustrating to watch, but ever so predictable. Their protestations of a new, invigorated faith is but a sad retread of a very old song. They have their money, property, and trappings of spirituality and significance, for now, but they are essentially “dead men walking,” heartless for the real things of God, astorgē to the end, trading the everlasting truth for putrefied lie.
Watching this sad event unfold, I understand in a small way how Jesus felt when he stood above Jerusalem and cried his famous lament (Matthew 23:37). As my mother use say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”
May we learn from the sad fall of others and keep our hearts open to correction, ready with repentance, and humble to the core. What does it profit anyone to gain the whole world and lose their soul? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!