Which side do you take on the debate of whether or not unconditional love is humanly possible? In an article titled, “The True Meaning of Unconditional Love,” by a blogger named “A Conscious Rethink,” this blogger states the following:
Some people regard unconditional love as pure fantasy, a myth that has been shared and searched for throughout human history. Others believe that it is not only real, but the most real thing there is.
This article will suggest that it is absolutely possible to love unconditionally, but that many people simply misunderstand what it means to do so.
We’ll explore the themes and weigh up the points of debate to try and give a clear explanation of love in its unconditional form.
Unconditional = Selfless
The literal meaning of the word unconditional is without conditions, but how does this translate into reality? To answer this, you have to first consider what conditional love is.
Conditional love is an attachment to and feeling for someone that depends on them behaving in a certain way. At its heart is the premise that the person giving the love (the lover) does so because they get something back in return – namely a response from the person receiving the love (the beloved) that meets their, often unrealistic, expectations.
More accurately, it is the love that relies upon the beloved NOT acting in a way that the lover finds unacceptable or intolerable.
Unconditional love, on the other hand, exists in the absence of any benefit for the lover. It transcends all behavior and is in no way reliant upon any form of reciprocation.
It is completely and utterly selfless. It cannot be given in as much as it flows without effort from one’s heart rather than coming consciously from one’s mind. There is nothing that can stand in the way of unconditional love.
Wishing The Best For The Beloved
With selflessness comes the ultimate desire to see the beloved flourish and find contentment. It doesn’t have to involve any actions on the part of the lover, but it often does. Sometimes it even involves a level of personal sacrifice.
It is the driving force that spurs you on to do whatever you can to help your beloved become the best version of themselves.
It First Requires Self-love
In order to love someone unconditionally, you must start by loving yourself the same way. You must learn to accept who you are without seeking to change. If you insist that change is necessary, you are putting conditions on the love you have for yourself. This is not to say that change will not take place, but it will be natural, unforced, and unlooked for.
Only when you stop chasing changes in yourself can you begin to love others without their needing to change. It is then that love can be deemed unconditional.
Believing In The Good That One Possesses
When love is given without condition, it is a sign that you are able to see the very worst in someone and yet still believe that they are worthy of your compassion. It is the part of you that forgives the seemingly unforgivable when no one else is able to.
Unconditional love does not judge and it does not give up on those whom society may deem as immoral or evil. It is the conviction to see beyond a person’s outward flaws to focus, instead, on the inner being that some may call a soul.
It Can’t Be Said, Only Felt
The first misconception about unconditional love is that you can declare it to someone. There is a chance that you are experiencing it, but you may also be feeling something very close to it, but in some way lacking.
There is no way to predict how you may react to a person in a given set of circumstances. You may find that there are limits to your love that you were simply unaware of previously.
Because of the innate uncertainty of the future, unconditional love can exist only as a feeling and not as a mental or verbal concept (this article itself can by no means describe the very essence of it).
You will never know for sure whether what you feel is unconditional love, but this in no way disproves its existence.
A Relationship Does Not Have To Be Unconditional Too
Another common misunderstanding is the belief that unconditional love requires you to accept whatever your beloved does to you. It is, however, possible for the relationship to have various conditions upon it–certain boundaries–but for the love to have none. You can make a choice to end a relationship because it involves abuse or because your beloved has acted in a way that you cannot stomach. This does not have to mean the end of your love for them.
It is quite possible to still wish the best for them, see the good in them, and accept them as they are – the properties of unconditional love described above. It may be that you will love them from a distance rather than get caught up in a situation that could be self-destructive.
Relationships are mere partnerships between two people. A relationship is not a feeling – it is not love of any kind – it is merely the vessel in which love can be housed. Should the partnership become unsustainable, the vessel can break, but the love does not always cease to be; it can be moved outside of the relationship and exist by itself.
This is because unconditional love has no basis in the actions and behaviors of the beloved. Your lives may end up taking utterly different paths to the point where a relationship becomes impossible, but your love for them does not diminish.
You Can Experience Negative Emotions At The Same Time
Unconditional love does not mean that you feel warmth and affection towards your beloved at all times; you are human after all. You can be angry at them, frustrated with them, and hurt by them while still loving them.
Having arguments does not diminish the love that comes truly free of conditions. Just as the waves atop an ocean do not impact the depths below, the natural highs and lows of a relationship cannot penetrate deep enough to affect the underlying feeling.
Unconditional Love From A Spiritual Perspective
Many religions and spiritual practices involve the concept of non-duality and this can be another source of unconditional love. When you feel separate from others, you have a choice as to whether or not you love them, but if you look upon your neighbor as you would look upon yourself, love is almost inevitable.
If you live free from the mental barriers that exist in the majority of people and experience the universe and everything in it as being of you, why would you choose anything other than love? While rare, this type of unconditional love does exist in some people.
There Should Be No Guilt Where It Is Lacking
You may feel it towards another or you may not, but the absence of unconditional love is not something to feel guilty about.
As much as you may wish to feel this way and rationally see reasons for doing so, it cannot be willed into being. This type of love cannot be wished for, chased, or accumulated; it can only be.
It may hurt to realize that your love for another has conditions, but this is not something you can control. So do not beat yourself up when your love for someone fades, if it was meant to keep burning, it would have done. (Quote source here.)
Now let’s take a look an the topic of unconditional love from a Biblical perspective. On a blog post titled, “Love in the Journey,“ that I just published on my other blog, I quoted the following article written by Omar C. Garcia, who is the Missions Pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church, in his blog, “BibleTeachingNotes.com,” on the best known chapter in the Bible on the topic of unconditional love, which is found in 1 Corinthians 13:
Who has defined the word “love” for you? There is a lot being said about love these days and you have to be careful who you listen to or you might get the wrong idea about the meaning of love. While musicians and poets attempt to describe and define love in its many splendored forms, no writer deals with the matter of love as musically and poetically as the Apostle Paul. Nowhere else in all of literature, either sacred or secular, will you find the meaning of love more beautifully expressed than in 1 Corinthians 13. The 13th Chapter of 1 Corinthians is like a prism. When a beam of light is passed through a prism, it comes out on the opposite side broken up into its component colors…red, yellow, violet, orange, and all the colors of the rainbow. So it is in 1 Corinthians 13.
We must keep in mind two very important things as we look at this chapter:
First, remember that Scripture was not written in a vacuum. We find this great chapter on love included in a serious letter by Paul to the church in Corinth…a church with very serious problems. In this letter, Paul painted for the Corinthians a picture of themselves…in their factions, their jealousies, their vanity, their carnality, their misuse of Christian liberty, and their bragging about their spiritual gifts. In the thirteenth chapter of this letter, Paul momentarily turned aside from his direct counsels and rebukes to show the Corinthians an ideal Christian life, which was pretty much everything theirs was not.
Second, we must remember that, unlike our language, the Greeks had several words for love. The word “eros” was used to refer to love of deep desire, passionate and sensuous longing. It had a physical and sexual connotation and is nowhere used in the New Testament. The word “storge” referred to the kind of affection found in a family. The word “philia” was used to refer to brotherly love. Finally, the word “agape” was used to express the unconditional kind of love that God expressed toward us through Christ. It implies loving when there is nothing worthy to evoke love. This is the word Paul used in this chapter. [Garcia breaks down the chapter as follows]:
Garcia then states the following practical considerations:
We should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture.
In view of the many things that we hear about love in our world today, we should evaluate our understanding of love in the light of Scripture. Love is certainly not what many of the songs and movies of our day make it to be.
Ministry, miracles, and martyrdom are meaningless without love.
We must be certain that our actions are motivated by love. We must guard against doing things for selfish and self-glorifying ends.
There is a difference between love and lust.
It would be profitable to read 1 Corinthians 13 in the following light: Lust is impatient, lust is unkind, and is jealous; lust brags and is arrogant, it acts unbecomingly; it seeks its own, is provoked, takes into account a wrong suffered, rejoices in unrighteousness, but does not rejoice with the truth; exposes all things, doubts all things, gives up on all things, does not endure all things. Lust always fails.
Love is characterized by forgiveness.
I’ll end this post with the words from 1 Corinthians 13 (NIV) written by Paul:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (Quote source here.)
Without love . . .
Everything else . . .
Is meaningless . . . .
YouTube Video: “Whole Heart” by Brandon Heath: