One of my professors mentioned this concept in class and I wanted to expound on it. When you say “I love you” to your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé[e], or spouse the profundity behind that declaration is incredible. So, if my beautiful wife asks, “Why do you love me?” what do I say? Well, I give her my reasons of course… but at what point do I originate my reasons? Yes, God has orchestrated the world that it be this way but what factors are involved in God’s providential molding?
I believe the question of love ultimately comes down to the individual’s agency, their free desire and choice to love. If all my reasons to love are external then that would seem to imply that there could be external reasons for me to stop loving. Here’s a few examples. I love my fiancée because:
- She has a beautiful smile.
- She is fun.
- She has gorgeous eyes.
- Her personality complements mine.
- She is kind and gentle.
- We had memorable moments.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but I chose features and examples that a lot of people will say up front. All of these are external features and reasons. What if these change and
- She is in a car accident and loses all of her teeth and half of a jaw.
- She stops enjoying the same things as you.
- She has glass eyes or loses her eyes due to a medical condition or accident.
- She gets diagnosed with a condition that affects her personality and becomes violent or emotionally absent.
- She becomes violent.
- The recent bad times outweigh the good times.
If all my reasons for loving are countered would I still love? You may be able to see the issue here. I imagine everyone is saying, “Yes, of course I would still love!” But the question is, “Why?” I love my fiancée because I choose to love her. I may be completely content with adding external reasons (which normally are what attracts in the first place), but I love her because I choose to love her. So, if Leah were to ask me, “Why do you love me?” it would come down to, “Because I do.” Resting a series of cause and effect relationships (reasons for love) within a personal and free agency is a perfectly adequate explanation and stopping point. An agent is the only point at which a series of cause and effect relationships can begin. Yes, I could refrain from choosing to love, but being consistent, it wouldn’t be because of her. It’s my love for her and that’s what makes it so valuable.
Perhaps this may assist you in understanding God’s love for us. There’s nothing that we do to warrant God’s love because if there ever could be a reason, we messed it up. God loves us because he chooses to love us. God isn’t self-determined to love us, it’s an expression of his own freedom and desire to love. God is under no obligation to love us. He doesn’t owe us anything. Remember, he did not have to create anything at all. This also follows that there’s nothing that we can do to change God’s love for us. We can never be too dirty or evil that will cease the divine flow of love over us. So next time you say “I love you” to someone keep this in mind.