Monday, March 14, 2011

Conditional Love

Unconditional love is rare on earth. Ideally an infant should be loved without condition because he or she is completely dependent upon the ongoing tenderness of adults who should be able to delay their own gratification for the sake of the needy child.  Infants are super cute and attracting, but they cannot be independent and personally responsible.
Heavenly speaking, God in his infinite mercy, loves in a way that is mysterious - not to be pegged down, contained, or limited. "You love everything you created and you despise nothing of what you have made" (Wis 11,24). He loves you because you are His.  He also shows and tells us how to love Him and others, for example, through the Bible.  He loves us perfectly, both unconditionally and conditionally.

Conditional love is respectful and responsible love between maturing people.  When two people avoid selfishness and want each other's well-being, they are willing to place conditions on their relationship for the betterment of both.  For example, when we agree that you will arrive home by curfew, our relationship grows stronger because a reasonable curfew gives me peace of mind (and a decent night's sleep!) and gives you the opportunity to prove your trustworthiness (and get a decent night's sleep!)  Loving conditions and limits set us up for success.

I love you because you are mine.  I respect you enough to encourage you to live within the responsible conditions of family, the just rules of society, and the full truth of God's love.  With God's help, we can learn how to love perfectly.