If we accept the idea that Christianity is the only way people can learn to love their neighbors, why do we find so many people outside of the faith who are fully capable of loving their neighbors the way they love themselves? The question isn't frivolous, for if Christianity is the only way people can learn to love their neighbors the way they love themselves, humans should be born without an ability to love. But as we all know, humans are fully capable of loving others, and the inability to love is considered a serious condition, an aberration from the norm.
So what gives, or does anything?
The key to the problem seems to be our definition of love. Because the modern church equates love with moral living, it can only see love as an expression of moral living; i.e., if you live a moral life, you love. But love is not the same as moral living. For if it was, moral living would make us supremely loving, but we find that the exact opposite is usually the case: the more moral we try to be, the more judgmental and unloving we become. Unsurprisingly, we find that love is the antidote to the judgmental attitude created by moral living, which explains why so many Christians hate their neighbors instead of loving them, for they were never taught to love; they were taught to perform.
If humans can be taught to love, (for the ability to love is something we are all born with, although we sometimes forget how) Christianity cannot be the only means humans can learn to love their neighbors the way they love themselves. Anyone can learn how to love, and when we really think about it, we realize that our parents, our teachers, our friends, and other people, taught us how to love others. For really, although the ability to love is something we are all born with, the presence of evil makes loving others a difficult task, something we give up in our struggle for survival. But the good news is that we can all be reminded how to love, and that's where faith comes alongside, and gives us the courage and strength to withstand evil and choose that which is good.
But faith doesn't do it for us. We have to choose to learn to love others all over again, instead of just passively standing by and expecting God to do all the work for us. And this is where atheists who love have an advantage over passive Christians, for they don't expect anyone to do the work for them; instead they actively seek ways to express their love for humanity in tangible ways. And when we really think about it, the church has a lot to learn from them.