Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Biblical Concept of Conditional Love As an Ideal

God feels love unconditionally for every single, solitary, faithful or rebellious child - just as I do for my own children (including our “foster” children and those who simply lived with us for a while). My love for “my kids” is not restricted by biological ties; I love every kid who has used our house as a temporary, get-my-life-back-together sleeping pad unconditionally, as well. In this most fundamental way, God’s love truly is unconditional - and felt for and extended to all.

In the Bible, however, there is a STRONG theme of love being proven, expressed or manifested in action - that true love is MUCH more than just a feeling or emotion. (For example, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” - John 14:15) This obviously pertains to us and our requirement to do more than say we love God. (”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in Heaven.” - Matthew 7:21)

Within this concept is the central idea that “love” also includes the “rewards” of love returned - of “reciprocal love” or “covenant love”. This type of “shared love” is NOT unconditional, as it requires the fulfillment of conditions in order to receive the rewards promised by the giver’s love. The giver’s unconditional love extends the reward to all, but only those who accept that offer and requite their own love in return receive the full, “unconditional” gift. (the gift that includes no condition or restriction but provides all to the receiver) The key addition to the Christian conversation of godly love by Mormonism is that full, godly love exists only in a covenant relationship, where the receiver reflects the gift and unlocks the door to the rewards promised by God to His children who truly do "come follow me".


R. Gary said...

Papa D, excellent post. Plus, if it's of any interest, Neal A. Maxwell once said this about conditional love:

"Filled with mercy, Jesus generously described His true followers as His friends. Both endearing and lifting, this designation describes how in His perfect love He regards us. He has surely proven His unconditional and unending friendship for us, but we have not yet proven our friendship for Him. He said to His disciples in the meridian of time that they were no longer servants, but friends: 'Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.'

"Attaching this condition does not indicate conditional love for us, since we are loved perfectly by Him. Rather, it describes the condition necessary for us to achieve in order to prove our friendship for Him: we must keep His commandments and strive to become like Him."

SilverRain said...

Love expressed as an emotion without action to back it up is the same as money unspent. Money has no value until you spend it.

I suspect that is part of why the Atonement had to happen the way it did.

Anonymous said...

I prefer to see it as a relationship that is offered;for it to be a real relationship we have to enter into it of our own will on an ongoing basis by communicating and doing those things that will feed that relationship and enable it to feed us.You can reach out to someone for ever,but if they do not move into your arms the embrace is never experienced.