Is unconditional love a biblical concept? (2023)

Yes and no. First, what is this? Unconditional love is acceptance of a person without fulfilling any conditions. In other words, it means having affection for someone without setting boundaries. Therefore, unconditional love means loving someone regardless of that person's behavior.

This popular notion of unconditional love contradicts much of what God says in the Bible. It is because people are flawed, which is proven by our improper actions. That is why God created laws by which he commands us to live. He did this for both our own benefit and the good of society.

For example, in the second of His Ten Commandments, God told the Israelites, “You shall not make yourself an idol...You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children of their fathers, even to the third and fourth generations, who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments" (Ex 20:6 NIV) . So God says that whoever makes an idol and bows down to it or worships it, hates it. When the Israelites did this, God became jealous because they were worshiping something or someone (demon) that was not their creator. Notice that God is saying here that he loves people who love him, and they love him by keeping his commandments. So this text is saying that God's love is conditional because he loves us if we keep his commandments.

Much of this biblical truth contradicts what is commonly taught by modern psychology. It is said that these strict requirements are legalistic and therefore contrary to love and intimacy. Instead, consider the last six of God's ten commandments that pertain to human relationships. The fifth commandment says that children should honor their parents. The rest of the Ten Commandments forbid murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and lust. That sums up the whole game of man's sin against man. Obeying these commandments as human beings will greatly help us to achieve love and intimacy. We will not achieve this by accepting each other's behavior, no matter what it is. This would plunge society into absolute chaos where there would be no laws. “Everyone would do what is right in their own eyes.” This is how selfishness, hatred, crime and all kinds of injustice would spread. Laws are necessary.

Now, in a sense, God loves all people unconditionally, even if they break his laws. For example, He provides both the sinner and the saint with food and water to drink. Jesus taught His disciples to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" because God "makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45 ). .*

Furthermore, God loves people unconditionally in providing a remedy for violations of His laws, and this has everything to do with our experiencing intimacy with Him and with each other. In a word, it isforgiveness. God will forgive us for breaking the law, but this divine forgiveness is also conditional. The condition that God requires in order for He to forgive us isBuses. That means we have to humble ourselves in prayer before God, confess our sins and thus acknowledge our guilt. And we may need to express sincere contrition when the occasion calls for it. Maybe we should even go to someone we've wronged, confess and ask for forgiveness. And in some cases, along with our regrets, we may need to make amends.

But repentance—confessing our sins for breaking God's laws—is not enough. God also commanded the Israelites to build an altar and perform animal sacrifices on it as a covering (expiation) for sins. But that was just a picture of the final sacrifice for the sins to come. For God loved all people unconditionally by sending His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). God will finally forgive us our sinswithwe believe that Jesus died for us. Therefore, God's forgiveness is conditional.

So where did this idea of ​​indiscriminate "unconditional love" come from? The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm first used this expression in 1934. He later developed it in his very successful bookThe art of love(1956). Fromm was an atheist who rejected authoritarian rule, taught unbiblical self-love, and argued vigorously against the Christian faith. The humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers, second only to Sigmund Freud as a clinical therapist, refined Fromm's idea of ​​unconditional love. Roger's parents were devout Pentecostals; but he apostatized from Christianity and embraced Taoism. Later in life, Rogers experimented with and encouraged the occult and rejected the concept of fidelity in marriage. He was a leader of the idea of ​​"whatever feels right, do it". Much of the Church has accepted the phrase "unconditional love," if not some of its offshoots that came from these ungodly men.

There is often some truth to popular ideas; so it is with unconditional love. We humans often have to judge others less and accept them more. "Love the sinner and hate the sin" sounds like good advice. (But can a person be detached from their actions?) But the live and let live philosophy is a half-truth and is wreaking havoc on society. For example, God instituted the death penalty for murder, with rules for finding fault, but most nations now oppose the death penalty.

Or accept marriage. Unconditional love states that a spouse should definitely accept their spouse even if the spouse commits adultery. Now, a single crime of this nature may not end in divorce. But what about serial adultery or repeated physical abuse? Traditional marriage vows offer no remedy for such transgressions and thus seem to advocate unconditional love. However, Jesus taught that the victim of adultery has the divine right to divorce (Matthew 19:8-9). In fact, Moses wrote it in God's Torah, at least for man (Deuteronomy 24:1), although that was not God's original draft.

Some will no doubt interject, "What about God saying, 'I hate divorce'" (Malachi 2:16). Indeed he does; nevertheless he divorced Israel (Isaiah 50:1). Why? The Jews constantly broke his laws associated with the covenant he had with them, something like a marriage covenant should be between lovers. Demanding that the marriage continue no matter what the spouses do encourages reprehensible behavior that can endanger life.

Sometimes we all go our own way and break some of God's laws. But thank God his love reaches the most heinous of sinners. The Bible says there is no sin that God cannot forgive except the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:29). Think of the penitent thief on the cross with Jesus.

Christianity goes through cycles. In the first half of the 20'sºBy the end of the 19th century, much of the Church in the United States was legalistic and advocated salvation by works. Today part of the church preaches cheap grace and easy faith. The Bible teaches that salvation comes by faith, but by faith that works (James 2:26).

Scripture says that God is "acquainted with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32 NASB). The book of Psalms begins with the words: "Blessed are they that do not follow the counsel of the ungodly [of men like Erich Fromm and Carl Rogers], but delight in the law of the Lord, and meditate upon his law day and night ." ( Psalm 1:1-2) And Jesus said to his disciples: "Those who have my commandments and keep them are they that love me; and they that love me shall be loved of my Father, and I shall love them and me reveal to them.... Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and dwell with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words" (John 14:21-24).

Unconditional love is opposed to justice. Ask the common man who has been mistreated and he will probably and rightly tell you that the culprit needs to be punished for his crime. State laws are necessary for the maintenance of a civil society. Without them there would be chaos.

Unconditional love plays an important role in the prophetic tradition. Israel's prophets are known for repeatedly correcting the nation and warning them of God's imminent judgment.

Yes, unconditional love also contradicts God's judgment. At the Last Judgment, when God throws angels and wicked people into the lake of fire, He will certainly not love them unconditionally.

And there is no reason to fear a God who loves unconditionally. In contrast, the Bible says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10; cf. 1:7). Why Fear God? He judges sin.

God not only legislates for the betterment of society, but also punishes the wrongdoers to persuade them to reform. It works for some and not others; However, God creates justice by punishing evil.

All of this is really just common sense. Human societies around the world have legal systems that include police and courts that enforce civil laws. Without them, a successful society cannot survive. Again, the only alternative is anarchy.

In short, God's unconditional love was demonstrated in the cross of Christ; However, God still requires that we meet the condition of faith in Jesus Christ with a faith that to some degree keeps the commandments of God and His Christ. But we all know that in this life none of us are perfect; we all still sin.

* All scripture references are to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) unless otherwise noted. See also the article from 02/15/2015 with the title "Should Christians forgive others unconditionally?

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Last Updated: 03/10/2023

Views: 6374

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dean Jakubowski Ret

Birthday: 1996-05-10

Address: Apt. 425 4346 Santiago Islands, Shariside, AK 38830-1874

Phone: +96313309894162

Job: Legacy Sales Designer

Hobby: Baseball, Wood carving, Candle making, Jigsaw puzzles, Lacemaking, Parkour, Drawing

Introduction: My name is Dean Jakubowski Ret, I am a enthusiastic, friendly, homely, handsome, zealous, brainy, elegant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.