I am not a fan of Paul’s ethics as applied to specific instances, and as I listen to people who complain about Paul, this is where most of them seem to have their difficulty. However, let us examine them closer, as peoples’ misunderstandings have to do with the needs of our time, not his. His audience is living in the years around 50 CE and their world, needs, and problems are in some cases vastly different than ours and in others close to ours. However, one thing about his ethics and theology that holds true for our day and all days is his insistence on loving our neighbor (see Romans 13.8-10). He points out that love is the basis of all of the Commandments, and that if you love your neighbor, you can do no harm. Now, it is not so easy to tell when we are loving our neighbor. At least I experience that. Many people make motions toward me that they mean to be helpful and loving that are insulting, a put down, and are demeaning. They do not mean to be disrespectful, but they do not have an appreciation of my needs or skills. A little love would listen to me and discover my needs and desires. Assumptions of our frailty and fragility might well vanish. Helpfulness would be based on needs. Listen and needs are two essential elements in the demonstration of love. So love is not a soupy, sentimental response, nor is it giving a person what they want (especially a childish request), nor is it giving out of concern without assessing the needs and desires of the other. The test of loving giving has to do with listening to the recipient: what his/her lifestyle and physical needs are and adjusting our giving accordingly. All too often we “know” what the person needs, and we miss what they are able to receive or use. This can be said for a community and their needs as well. So Paul’s ethic of love is as relevant for us today as it was for his day.