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Is it possible for a human being (other than Jesus) to have, obtain, and maintain unconditional love?

I must confess some personal bias about the question you have raised, and suggest that others on the BSF Staff might disagree with me.

My problem with the term “unconditional love” is that it is found nowhere in the Bible. I looked at a number of translations and the only translation I found that used the word “unconditional” was the New Jerusalem Bible, and this was to describe an “unconditional vow.” It is found 4 times this way in Leviticus chapter 27 (verses 21, 28, 29).

My other problem is that it is a term that has become very popular in pop psychology, as well as in the pulpit, yet without any precise biblical definition. Many people use this term, and everyone seems to accept it, but I’ve never heard a careful definition of its meaning.

Still another problem is that it is sometimes used almost interchangeably with “unconditional acceptance.” I certainly cannot embrace this term. The doctrine of church discipline does not allow us to “unconditionally accept” a person in the church to profess to be a Christian, and yet to practice sin openly and defiantly (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, etc.).

If we are to imitate God, then I must ask whether it is true that God unconditionally loves. God loves the world (John 3:16, but He hates sin and sinners, and condemns them to hell). Does God unconditionally love (or accept) sinners? Is God’s love for the Israelites unconditional?

NAU Hosea 9:15 All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels.

I guess I am willing to accept the concept of unconditional love if by it we mean that we persist in our love for another, regardless of anything they might do: Whether my granddaughter becomes a bank teller or a bank robber, I will still love her as my granddaughter. But this does not mean that I will not discipline her when she is naughty. It does not mean that my (unconditional) love requires me to act in a way that she wants. All of this is to say it’s getting quite late and my mind is getting fuzzy. Nevertheless, much talk about “unconditional love” is fuzzy and ill defined, and should be thought through carefully.

Related Topics: Man (Anthropology), Love