Ben was preaching in Romans 13 and he said something to me that lit up my brain like the horseradish I had for lunch.
I can't give a precise quote, but he said that love was the wing of a butterfly and the law is like the little cells that make up the wing.
I'm riffing a bit here (don't know if he went this far) but that such a thing of beauty as a butterfly's wing, in order to serve its purpose (to be strong enough to fly) has to be very strong, yet able to bend enough without breaking. Those cells have a structure to them, very precise and ordered. We wouldn't necessarily (I wouldn't at least) equate a rigidly structured machine, with a piece of fragile artwork, but in a butterfly wing you have just that.
The law is cast (literally in some cases) in stone. It is inflexible, unforgiving, and unchanging. But without that law we may not know how to love truly. We could make fumbling attempts (and often do). We may even hit upon it from time to time, but God's law lays it straight out for us. It tells us not to hurt our beloved, not to cast it off for something new and shiny. Without the law we wouldn't know how much we need God's love in the form of grace.
The law enables us to fly to our Father. The law encourages us to be soft and caring. To do for those that we love (which by the law is everyone that we meet and even those we never will) as much as we would do for ourselves. We must feed them, clothe them, give them a place of rest and healing.
I've been told that no one should need a book to tell them what to do, but I look at the entirety of human history and I see that almost without fail (in "Christian Kingdoms" and secular ones) we do need to be told. We are like my two year old son, flailing at the thing we once cuddled because it no longer pleases us, won't cooperate with our grand schemes, or just because we are plain tired.
We need someone big to step in and show us how to love. The parent needs to be stern, big enough to hold us until we stop kicking, crying, and biting. He needs to be willing to discipline us harshly and tell us clearly why he's doing it. Then he needs to kiss us tenderly and forgive us our tantrums.
I have no doubt that from time to time my son will hate me for the sternness that I have to show him. He'll resent me "laying down the law". I know that I frequently resent God for asking me to do something I can't. One day though he will understand as I hope to that behind all of this rigidity and fierceness is a love that surpasses even the whisper of a butterfly's wing in tenderness.