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Is There Really Such a Thing as “Unconditional Love”?


The concept of "unconditional love" is widely celebrated in various cultural expressions, but its authenticity and feasibility are subjects of debate. This discourse delves into the nature of love, particularly examining whether the idea of love being "unconditional" holds true, especially within a biblical context.

While love is undoubtedly a profound and cherished emotion, it is also recognized as a deliberate choice and an act of will, extending beyond mere feelings to encompass committed, loving actions. The discussion raises the question of whether love can truly be without conditions, expectations, or boundaries, suggesting that the notion of "unconditional love," where one tolerates anything regardless of the circumstances, is not only unrealistic but also unhealthy.

The term "unconditional love" itself, not originating from the Bible, was coined by Erich Fromm in 1934 and gained popularity in the secular domain. This concept, especially when applied beyond the parent-child relationship, can lead to a lack of reciprocity and mutuality essential for healthy relationships. It's argued that true love in close relationships involves a dynamic of give and take, where both parties engage in a cooperative and mutually respectful manner.

The biblical perspective presented suggests that while God's love is profound and foundational, it doesn't negate the presence of divine expectations and commandments. Scriptural references are used to illustrate that God's relationship with humanity involves stipulations that require obedience and faithfulness from believers. These conditions do not diminish the authenticity or depth of God's love but rather frame it within a covenantal context where mutual commitment is valued.

Moreover, the narrative challenges the idea that "unconditional love" should compel individuals to endure mistreatment or abuse indefinitely. Healthy boundaries and self-respect are emphasized as crucial components of a loving relationship, even in a biblical context where forgiveness and grace are paramount.

The discussion also touches on the broader theological implications, suggesting that if God's love were entirely without conditions, it would nullify the concept of judgment and the need for repentance, which are integral to biblical teachings. The necessity of actions that demonstrate love, rather than mere words, is highlighted, reinforcing the idea that genuine love is evidenced through deeds and commitment.

In conclusion, while the allure of "unconditional love" is undeniable, its practicality and theological validity are questioned. The discourse advocates for a nuanced understanding of love that incorporates grace, forgiveness, and commitment while acknowledging the importance of mutual respect, boundaries, and the inherent conditionality embedded in the very nature of love, especially as understood within a biblical framework.

Full Transcript

Do you believe in “unconditional love”?

Many writers, artists, and pastors have used this term “unconditional love” in several books, songs, and sermons. Some couples have even included it when reciting their marriage vows.

It sounds so romantic, so comforting, so real, and so true. But is there really such a thing as unconditional love? In other words, is love — especially God’s love — truly unconditional?

In this episode, we will go to the Bible, our ultimate source of Truth, to see whether it teaches this popular concept of “unconditional love.” Let’s discuss…

Love is a wonderful, incredible feeling. There’s no greater feeling than to love and to be loved.

But aside from this romantic feeling of being “in love,” love is also a decision, a choice, an act of the will. Love is something you decide to do. It’s not merely an emotion that you feel inside. Loving is something you commit to doing, regardless of how you feel at any given moment.

Therefore, we cannot really separate loving actions from feelings of love. In any relationship, there is both the feeling of being “in love” or an affinity and closeness with a person, as well as the actions of trust and caring — doing what’s best for another person. This is what love means.

Defining “Unconditional Love”

But what about “unconditional love”? What does it mean? By “unconditional love” I do NOT mean being kind, patient, forgiving, and committed to making things work for the long-term. We should all do that. But “unconditional love” means loving without conditions, expectations, or boundaries. No matter how someone treats you. No matter what he or she becomes — even if they become a child molester, a terrorist, or a serial rapist. You wouldn’t put any restrictions, expectations, or conditions whatsoever. You would willingly tolerate anything and everything.

What Unconditional Love is Not

So please don’t misunderstand. I believe in grace. I believe in “wholehearted love” — freely giving your love with no strings attached. I believe in not keeping score. I believe in doing more than what is considered “fair.” I believe in being patient, kind, and forgiving with people's numerous weaknesses and mistakes. And I believe we shouldn’t hate people in general.

Notice what Christ taught:

Matthew 5:44 — “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…”

While we should strive not to hate but to pray for our enemies, we always have a CHOICE on whether we will continue to allow ourselves to be hurt, insulted, exploited, or persecuted.

But “unconditional love” demands us to love without conditions, expectations, or healthy boundaries. You “should” tolerate anything and everything — hostility, indifference, and abusive or consistently bad behavior over a long period of time. This, as you will see, is not healthy.

Let’s now examine 10 facts about this popular concept called “unconditional love”:

1. “Unconditional love” was coined by Erich Fromm in 1934. This phrase did not come from the Bible.

Erich Fromm was a German psychoanalyst. He later developed the concept of “unconditional love” in his 1956 book, The Art Of Loving. He rejected all forms of authoritarian government including God's. He portrayed the God of the Old Testament as a self-seeking authoritarian. He was an atheist and argued against the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Fromm describes a truly religious person as one who does not pray for anything and does not expect anything from God. He says that a truly religious person does not love God as a child loves his father or his mother. And so from Fromm's point of view, faith in God is replaced by faith in self, and love for God is replaced by love for self.

He further believed that a father's love was always conditional (upon success, good behavior, etc.), but a mother's love was unconditional, without reason or limits, and couldn't be forfeited, even by sins or transgressions.

Erich Fromm’s ideas were later refined by humanist psychologist Carl Rogers in the 1960s. Carl Rogers suggested that therapists should try to offer their clients “unconditional positive regard,” a totally non-judgmental acceptance. The “hippies” in the drug culture of the 1960s later used the terms “free love” and “unconditional love” to justify their lifestyle of sexual immorality.

As you can see, this idea of “unconditional love” was introduced by secular men, not the Bible.

2. Close personal relationships are about mutuality, cooperation, and reciprocity. Since there are expectations, this love can’t be truly unconditional.

Unconditional love is unrealistic. It would call for endless masochism or self-sacrifice. It doesn’t make for a healthy relationship. In all relationships, it’s important that we need to know that the other person can finally walk away if we don't treat them with the decency their love deserves.

Romans 13:10 — Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

“Unconditional love” is not an excuse to stay in an unhealthy relationship. Even when you love someone wholeheartedly and accept them for who they are, healthy boundaries are essential. We are to love someone regardless of circumstance, but not regardless of how they treat you. Sometimes, loving someone requires making tough decisions and letting them go.

3. Except perhaps for a parent's love for their baby or child, “unconditional love” is a dangerous myth.

Why is a mother's love for her baby unconditional? Well, aside from the fact that it’s her OWN baby — it’s a different story if it’s not her baby — the baby is innocent, helpless, and immature. The mother has to patiently care for and love him or her despite the tantrums or mistakes. But such “unconditional love” is tempered when the child reaches maturity, possessing the ability to make decisions on his or her own — and even make bad or stupid decisions repeatedly.

Is this scenario a possible reason why some mothers “...may forget” their children? Notice...

Isaiah 49:15 — “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

“Unconditional love” for the most part does not exist. All personal relationships have conditions, including our relationship with God. When love becomes unconditional, it ceases to be love.

A real, healthy love relationship is never totally one-sided. The most beautiful relationships are those where two people never stop trying hard to bless, delight, impress, and serve each other.

4. Our unrepented sins separate us from a holy God.

Have you ever tried praying to God but it just seems like your prayers don’t go past the ceiling?

This could be the reason. Please turn with me to Isaiah 59:1-2:

Isaiah 59:1-2 — “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Sin is a big deal to God. Every time we break His laws, it affects our relationship with Him. It disrespects Him. Sin causes a separation. It harms our relationship. So what should we do?

Isaiah 55:6-7 — “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

If God’s love is truly “unconditional,” it wouldn’t matter to Him one bit whether we sin or not.

5. God made the first move in order to restore our broken relationship. He loved us in our sin, but He doesn’t want us to remain in our sin!

“Unconditional love” is not the same thing as grace, which is “unmerited pardon” (treating someone better than they deserve). Many people confuse the two. God’s love is certainly unmerited or unearned, but we need to maintain that loving relationship through obedience.

1 John 4:19 — We love Him because He first loved us.

Romans 5:8 — But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Acts 17:30 — Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent [repent means “to change one’s mind” — to “stop sinning”].

6. Faithful obedience is God’s “love language” — it is the surest way to show our genuine love for God.

John 14:15 — “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John 14:21 — “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father. And I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

John 15:10If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

Can’t you see how conditional these statements are? If you truly love Christ your Lord and Savior, you will keep His commands — freely, willingly, and joyfully.

1 John 5:3 — For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

True love is a relationship. Without love, “following rules” is a burden. But for someone who truly loves God, His commandments are not burdensome, because that person loves to please God!

7. If unconditional love were true, everybody would be saved, including Satan and all his demons.

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

While God desires all people to be saved, not everyone will repent and not everyone will believe. If God’s love is truly unconditional, He would save everybody — including Satan.

Matthew 7:21-23 — “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Does that sound like “unconditional love” to you?

8. If unconditional love were true, nobody would be condemned to the second death in the lake of fire.

Hebrews 6:4-6 — “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

Hebrews 10:26-27 — “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”

Hebrews 3:12 — Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;

2 Corinthians 13:5 — Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Yahshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Revelation 21:8 — But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

9. Love isn’t demonstrated by words, but ACTIONS.

James 2:15-16 — If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

1 John 3:18 — My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

What if a husband professed His undying love and steadfast loyalty to his wife every single day, but then sleeps with other pretty women every single night? As we all know, marriage has built-in expectations of being faithful to each other. I hope you can now see the fallacy of “unconditional love” in expecting the woman to still have the same love for a cheating husband.

10. God doesn’t expect us to be perfectly sinless; He only demands and expects us to be truly faithful.

1 John 1:8-9 — If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jude 1:24 — Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…

We all sin. We all mess up. Therefore, we should all strive to be very patient, kind, and forgiving toward each other. But this does not mean that we should forever put up with abusive behavior in the name of “unconditional love.” That is not a healthy kind of love. That is codependency.


In conclusion, with very few exceptions (like a mother’s love for her own helpless baby), there is really no such thing as “unconditional love.” Real and true love, by its very nature, has conditions, expectations, and healthy boundaries that both parties strive to respect and fulfill. Otherwise, such “love” has no value and meaning. And it is not a healthy relationship.

God’s grace — His unmerited pardon in “treating us better than we deserve” — should not be confused with “unconditional love.” God’s grace is certainly free, but it is NOT cheap. It cost Him the precious blood of His one and only Son, Yahshua the Messiah (aka Jesus Christ). So we should never abuse His patience or His kindness. We need to repent and maintain a loving and trusting relationship with Christ by a living faith and an active, loving obedience from the heart.

So until next week, this is Daniel Macaraeg, of BiblicalTruths.TV, reminding you to always be growing, always be giving, and always be grateful.


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