Love and Free Will

One of the truisms I use every now and then is that love only means something when it is freely given.

If I were talking about how a man won his wife’s heart you would be relatively easy to convince. It might be true that a young man wants to believe he won his wife, that he found a way to make her love him. But as a man ages he will quickly admit, happily admit, that it is more important that she chooses to love him. In fact, a man who wants to force his wife to love him, regardless of her will, would be considered manipulative at best or more likely downright dangerous.

But since I am talking theology instead of romance I expect a little more resistance, especially from those who embrace Calvinism or reformed theology. This perspective believes that men can play no role in their own salvation, that men cannot make any choice whether they will love God.

For these individuals, God’s sovereignty answers every question. He has absolute authority and therefore he can choose in advance who will be saved apart from their personal choices or activities. His Sovereignty allows Him to have it all: He can choose for men to sin, He can condemn them for this same sin, and He can choose to redeem others. Under this system He would have it all, except He would not have anyone who willingly, freely chose to love Him. Love only means something when it is freely given.

This choice is what I believe we were made for. We were created to give us the opportunity to freely choose a relationship with God. In order to allow this possibility, to allow for this greatest good to be a potentiality, He gave us free will. He knew we would uniformly choose sin, but He allowed the rebellion of sin because it became the path to the greater good. This greater good, or even greatest good, I speak of is the freely given love of those who would also choose His gift of redemption from sin.

 

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