God is love. Can we then legitimately swap God for love in that famous passage from Corinthians 13?

God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonour others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.

When we reflect upon violence, however, we find no love.

Violence is impatient, violence is unkind. It glories in envy, it boasts in fear, it is full of pride. It shames others, it is self-seeking, it is easily angered, it keeps a record of wrongs. Violence delights in evil and rejoices in lies. It always harms, always coerces, always diminishes, always repeats. Violence always fails.

Why then do we still allow Christian doctrine to communicate that God uses violence to save us or to punish sin?

We allow it mainly because of how we read the Old Testament.

God is love is therefore my starting point for rejecting a literalistic reading of Scripture and moving towards a nonviolent interpretation.

NonviolenceSteve Hall