Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Is Love an Act of a Free Will?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Is Love an Act of a Free Will?

    This comes up quite often when talking about God's sovereignty and free will.

    "God doesn't want a bunch of robots that are programmed to love him, therefore we must freely choose to love him of our own free will".

    Well is love a free choice? I don't deny it is a choice, but is it a free choice? A free choice is a choice that is unconstrained and has no external causes.

    So lets look at love. I would propose that love is one of the worst examples of a so-called "free" will choice. The very nature of love means it has many external causes.

    Do you love someone just because you decided to? "Hm, I think I'll fall in love today. No particular reason at all, just my own free will in action." Nope, not quite that easy. In fact most people don't even choose to fall in love, let alone freely choose to fall in love.

    Here is a test. Go home tonight and tell your wife (or husband) something like the following: "Hi honey, just wanted to let you know that I love you for no particular reason. Nothing causes me to love you." After you get slapped, you may find yourself sleeping on the couch for a couple nights

    When someone falls in love, they are responding to many many different influences and desires that cause them to feel a certain way, and effectively cause them to fall in love. Physical attractiveness, emotional connection, desire to have a soul-mate, etc all play a role and we don't have any control over it.

    That is the first stage, but then a choice is made to enter into a relationship. Is it a free choice? No, it is heavily influenced by all the things that caused you to fall in love in the first place. Many other circumstances constrain the choice as well. All of these influences and circumstances let you make a choice, but it is by no means a free choice.


    Now lets look at another example of love. Your children. Does anyone choose to love their children? "Hm, my wife just gave birth to our first child, I guess I better use my free will to decide if I will love the child or not." Nope, doesn't work that way. I would submit that most people don't even think about choosing to love their children, they just do it. No choice is even made. And with good reason. Most parents will love their children, no matter what they do. They may be disappointed or upset with them at times, but they will still love them.

    Now there may be very rare circumstances where a parent could no longer love its child. In order for that to happen there would have to be some very extreme and painful circumstances that occur. Now in this sad scenario, does the parent use its free will to not love the child? "Hm, I freely choose to not love my own child anymore. No external cause or no particular reason." No! Of course not. It was the very extreme and painful circumstances that caused the parent to be no longer able to love the child. The parent had a choice, but it was not a free choice. Anyone else in the exact same situation would have done the exact same thing!

    So, for Love to be true, do we need free will? No. So does God need to force us to love him? How about influence/cause/inspire? Those could be a type of "force". And that is what the scriptures say:

    John 6:44 no one is able to come unto me, if the Father who sent me may not draw him, and I will raise him up in the last day;

    John 6:65 and he said, `Because of this I have said to you -- No one is able to come unto me, if it may not have been given him from my Father.'


    And truthfully speaking, if God did plainly reveal himself to a person, why would that person reject him? There would be no reason to. No force necessary, just plain inspiration.

    Look at Saul's/Paul's conversion. The Lord revealed himself with a flash of light and a booming voice. Paul was thrown to the ground trembling. Did Paul then decide freely that he should follow Christ? Not likely. It probably took about 5 seconds for him to be converted. He made the choice but it was not a free choice. It was a caused choice. Caused by all the flash and boom and trembling.

    Cheers,
    Legoman

  • #2
    I have to admit of the theodicical arguements the Free will defence strikes me as pretty illogical on both philosophical and theological grounds. It may be popular but its pretty shakey on determinism.

    Is love a universal given that it can be seen as both abstract and subjective?

    Then we should consider as this world knows suffering and humanity appears to contain flaws can we truly share knowledge with a perfect 'other' to ourselves. If God IS love and God is perfect how can we who are like God but not God and therefore imperfect understand love as God does?

    Love could be said to be an irrational action from hormonal surges causing an affect upon the human organism that can be perceieved as pain or pleasure. It can also be argued that it is essential to promote care for others that gives the human species an advantage. I think I prefer to argue that it is a pale reflection of that which is other to us that IS perfect love beyond both our knowledge and capacity to understand.

    Paul was a Hebrew, a pharisee, on my reading of Hebrew Theodical reasonnings to date there is not free will. God is simply God.
    Grace is the gift of Christ, who exposes the gulf which separates God and man, and, by exposing it, bridges it. [K Barth]

    Comment


    • #3
      Your initial premise blurs the reality of what people actually believe

      Well is love a free choice? I don't deny it is a choice, but is it a free choice? A free choice is a choice that is unconstrained and has no external causes.
      You're assuming, it seems, that people who talk about free will are using the term 'free' in the sense that it is FREE from all external forces. This is simply not the case. Arminians believe our choice is co-operative with the grace of God. It is not 'free' in the sense of having nothing to do with anything but self, it is 'free' in the sense that it is not forced.
      The Matthew Never Knew
      The Knew Kingdom

      Comment


      • #4
        We love him, because he first loved us. And God is Love. I think that both scriptural passages kind of answer the initial topic question in a nutshell. We didn't really know what love was before God, and thus God in a sense is working through us when love(scriptural love) is present since love in itself comes from him and since he has defined himself as love.

        Now I guess the underlying question is what makes God loving? A lot of answers to that question I'm sure. My personal opinion would be to say that it could be his choice to freely share his freedom and love with others.

        God bless in Christ,

        Stephen

        Edit: To answer the initial question regarding Paul, he was working freely when God awakened his spirit within him, since God's spirit is freedom personified.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by matthew94 View Post
          Your initial premise blurs the reality of what people actually believe

          You're assuming, it seems, that people who talk about free will are using the term 'free' in the sense that it is FREE from all external forces. This is simply not the case. Arminians believe our choice is co-operative with the grace of God. It is not 'free' in the sense of having nothing to do with anything but self, it is 'free' in the sense that it is not forced.
          Well thats sort of the point. People don't actually think it through when they say we have free will. People believe we have 'free' will, but its not really 'free'. People say, "Well I make my own decisions, I do it all by myself, therefore I have a free will." Not so. The decisions we make are actually very constrained by the circumstances we are in and by our experiences in life.

          A decision or choice is just selecting what you prefer among some options. Nothing more. We make choices all day long. I'm making choices right now as I decide what words to use in this post.

          Every choice we make has a reason or cause. We evaluate the circumstances and options, and this causes us to make a choice. Given the exact same circumstances and options, the choice will be made the same way every time. God knows this. Who controls all circumstances? God.

          Back to the example of loving your children. Why do you choose to love your children? Because you chose to have them in the first place! But thats not the only reason or cause. You were raised a certain way, to take care of others, to love your family, etc. Essentially you have a life of learning and experience to draw on. This all influences you so that you automatically choose to love your children. Definitely not a free choice. Because of who you are, you cannot choose to not love your children.

          Now take another case. A deadbeat dad gets a girl pregnant and then runs out on her. He has chosen to not love the child. Was this a free choice? No. He had a different set of morals, life experiences. From that he concluded he was not going to stick around and love the child. He had reasons and made the decisions. That was the only outcome possible, based on who he was. Now does this make it ok what he did? Absolutely not. He made the completely wrong decision. But because of who he was he could not have made the right decision.

          Now when it comes to choosing God, again same thing applies. We make the decision based on the circumstances and what we know. John 6:65 even says no one can come to him unless God enables him. If God has not enabled us, we won't know about him or believe him, and therefore will not choose God. If God has enabled us, we will choose him.

          Anyway, the point is that a free will is not required to love something. In fact the will is anything but free.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just because many people interpret the term 'free will' incorrectly doesn't mean the term is not worth using. If people think their choices aren't IMPACTED by their environment and, of course, by God, then they are certainly incorrect. But the rest of your post paints a picture in which the ENVIRONMENT and/or GOD actually force us to make whatever choice we end up making. Such is simply not the case. Circumstances can only make certain choices more likely or attractive. That is why kids, raised in the same household, with incredibly similiar environments can make incredibly different choices. Yours is a very mechanistic world. Mine is a very organic world.

            The term 'free will' is, granted, redundant. 'Will' implies freedom in the sense that I originally declared. It's a freedom from being forced to choose. It's not a freedom from external influence (such a freedom isn't possible).
            The Matthew Never Knew
            The Knew Kingdom

            Comment


            • #7
              God is Love.

              Love (unconditional Agape love) is not something we can choose to do. It is a fruit (if not THE fruit) of the Spirit. What we can do is get ourselves out of the way long enough to let the Holy Spirit do His thing. When we do that, we will love.
              For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? ~ Deuteronomy 5:26

              If you're not prepared to risk your very life for your "enemy" you have no right to speak to him of love. ~ Daughter

              Many say they are called... but I am pretty convinced that with many of them it was the wrong number. ~ Project Peter

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by matthew94 View Post
                Just because many people interpret the term 'free will' incorrectly doesn't mean the term is not worth using. If people think their choices aren't IMPACTED by their environment and, of course, by God, then they are certainly incorrect. But the rest of your post paints a picture in which the ENVIRONMENT and/or GOD actually force us to make whatever choice we end up making. Such is simply not the case. Circumstances can only make certain choices more likely or attractive. That is why kids, raised in the same household, with incredibly similiar environments can make incredibly different choices. Yours is a very mechanistic world. Mine is a very organic world.
                Hi Matthew,

                Thanks for engaging the argument. Yes, the term "free will" is quite often used incorrectly.

                Your comment I believe is that circumstances/environment/God/external forces/whatever can only impact the choice so far, but then the final decision is left to us.

                But I think you are not thinking broad enough when we talk about circumstances and environment. Circumstances also includes things like the physical traits of our body, our own desires, and the chemical makeup of our own brain. Some people are shy and gentle, others are outgoing and aggresive. We don't have any control over these attributes, but they definitely affect how we make choices. Who gave us these attributes? God of course.

                Now we as mere humans cannot even identify all the attributes of our personality and physical makeup that might have an affect on any decisions we make. Not to mention the literally hundreds and thosands of tiny circumstances that could affect our decisions. But God knows them all. Take all of these thousands of events and attributes into account, and our choice has been predetermined.

                The term 'free will' is, granted, redundant. 'Will' implies freedom in the sense that I originally declared. It's a freedom from being forced to choose. It's not a freedom from external influence (such a freedom isn't possible).
                Regarding the idea of "being forced" - I maintain it is simply a poor description. A better term would be "influenced" or "inspired".

                Perhaps you can answer me this: Do you feel you are "forced" to love your children? (I have no idea if you have kids Matt, but just for example).

                Cheers,
                Legoman

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't deny that there are a multitude of ways in which circumstances and environment play a role in our decisions. But the fact remains that God asks us to make a 'choice' and that holds us 'responsible' for the choices that we make. This responsibility dictates that we could have chosen differently. It's one thing to attempt to understand the different factors that led one to make a choice, but an entirely different thing to say those factors negate the very idea of choice. Predetermined choice is, in that sense, a contradiction.

                  I agree that our choices are influenced and, at that (at least our good choices) are inspired. If all you are fighting for is the usage of those terms in describing our choice, I am in complete agreement with you! It's the predetermined language that negates the meaning of the very word 'choice' that I am at odds with.

                  If I had kids (I do not, I only this weekend got engaged), I would undoubtedly not feel forced to love them. It would feel natural. I would feel inspired. AND I would voluntarily choose to love them.
                  The Matthew Never Knew
                  The Knew Kingdom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    John 5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

                    John 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

                    How can anyone love 'free will' or otherwise, unless God were your Father? they have not the love of God in them, so were is the choice?

                    Rom 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

                    The 'commandment' to love God and our neighbour (in the law) did not work, because the flesh was weak. Man is finite and his love is limited, but the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts, as given to us by the Holy Ghost, is infinite. Then we can 'freely' love God, love the brethren, love our neighbour, love the unlovable and even love our enemies.

                    Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
                    Rom 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
                    Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

                    2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

                    1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

                    If you love the world, it is because the love of the Father is not in you. It has nothing to do with choice. If we do not love the world, it is only because we have the love of the Father in us.

                    1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
                    1Jn 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
                    1Jn 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
                    1Jn 3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

                    1Jn 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
                    1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

                    It is not about choice. If we are born of God 'WE WILL' love one another.

                    1Jn 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
                    1Jn 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
                    1Jn 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
                    1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
                    1Jn 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

                    1Jn 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
                    1Jn 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
                    1Jn 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
                    1Jn 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

                    I believe that this is key: Have we "known and believed" the love that God hath to us? I know of many Christians who do struggle with this fact, that God loves them. God loves us because God 'IS' Love. Nothing I did and nothing I will or can do, can make Him love me, or stop Him loving me. I cannot change who God IS.....God 'IS' Holy. Can anything I do stop Him from being Holy?

                    1Jn 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
                    1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
                    1Jn 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

                    1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
                    1Jn 4:21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

                    This commandment, is not a law 'thou shalt' but a commission 'you will', because He commanded it to be so. He who loves God, will love his brethren. The world will know that we are His disciples, because we love one another. It is not a choice matter.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by matthew94 View Post
                      I don't deny that there are a multitude of ways in which circumstances and environment play a role in our decisions. But the fact remains that God asks us to make a 'choice' and that holds us 'responsible' for the choices that we make. This responsibility dictates that we could have chosen differently. It's one thing to attempt to understand the different factors that led one to make a choice, but an entirely different thing to say those factors negate the very idea of choice. Predetermined choice is, in that sense, a contradiction.
                      I look at it this way. At one moment in time, we can look at the circumstances, weigh the options, and make a choice for good or bad. Whatever choice we make, that is the only choice that could have been made. The other option was never a possibility, since God knew that we would make the choice.

                      BUT (this is a big BUT), at that moment in time we are the ones who made the choice. God did not force us. We looked at options and made the decision. If it was a choice for bad, we will be accountable for it. This is all still true, even though the choice for bad had to happen and the choice for good could not happen.

                      Its tough to wrap your head around. We in our finite sense of self-awareness, made the choice. No one forced us.

                      I agree that our choices are influenced and, at that (at least our good choices) are inspired. If all you are fighting for is the usage of those terms in describing our choice, I am in complete agreement with you! It's the predetermined language that negates the meaning of the very word 'choice' that I am at odds with.
                      I admit this is a very tough subject. For myself, I have been thinking and meditating on this for most of the year. Before that, I would have said I was firmly in the free will camp. Part of it as you say is the word usage, and people not realizing our choices are influenced, etc. If you think it through logically, you can see that our choices and the path of our lives is influenced much more than we could ever realize. I have come to accept that we must be predestined. But the illusion of free will is tough to give up.

                      If you really want to get into some deep discussions, jump into "The One Timeline" thread, I would be curious how you view some of the scriptures I've presented over there. Isaiah 46:10-11 is the starting point.

                      If I had kids (I do not, I only this weekend got engaged), I would undoubtedly not feel forced to love them. It would feel natural. I would feel inspired. AND I would voluntarily choose to love them.
                      Yes that is a good way to describe it. No force necessary, it is natural. Now being forced to not love your children - that would be unnatural and truly forced. It would be going against your nature.

                      I guess that is a good way to sum it up: we make choices according to our nature, and our nature is completely influenced by our circumstances, our environment, and ultimately, God.

                      Congrats on getting engaged.

                      Cheers,
                      Legoman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by legoman View Post
                        Well thats sort of the point. People don't actually think it through when they say we have free will. People believe we have 'free' will, but its not really 'free'. People say, "Well I make my own decisions, I do it all by myself, therefore I have a free will."
                        No one here is saying that, are they?

                        Not so. The decisions we make are actually very constrained by the circumstances we are in and by our experiences in life.
                        Our circumstances and experiences can have an effect on our choices but they do not determine our choices.

                        A decision or choice is just selecting what you prefer among some options. Nothing more. We make choices all day long. I'm making choices right now as I decide what words to use in this post.
                        Yes, you have the freedom to make those choices.

                        Every choice we make has a reason or cause. We evaluate the circumstances and options, and this causes us to make a choice. Given the exact same circumstances and options, the choice will be made the same way every time.
                        Where do you come up with this? That would be true of robots who are programmed to do a certain thing based on certain situations. But we are not robots.

                        Back to the example of loving your children. Why do you choose to love your children? Because you chose to have them in the first place!
                        How do you explain the people who don't love their children despite having chosen to have them in the first place?

                        But thats not the only reason or cause. You were raised a certain way, to take care of others, to love your family, etc. Essentially you have a life of learning and experience to draw on. This all influences you so that you automatically choose to love your children. Definitely not a free choice. Because of who you are, you cannot choose to not love your children.
                        This doesn't make any sense. My wife grew up being physically abused by her parents. Yet, she would never dream of doing that to our kids. How do you explain that?

                        Now take another case. A deadbeat dad gets a girl pregnant and then runs out on her. He has chosen to not love the child. Was this a free choice? No. He had a different set of morals, life experiences.
                        How do you know he didn't choose to have a different set of morals which led to different life experiences?

                        From that he concluded he was not going to stick around and love the child. He had reasons and made the decisions. That was the only outcome possible, based on who he was. Now does this make it ok what he did? Absolutely not. He made the completely wrong decision. But because of who he was he could not have made the right decision.
                        This is simply not true. You can find two people who grew up in very similar circumstances who made very different choices in life. Nothing you're saying here is valid in reality.

                        Now when it comes to choosing God, again same thing applies. We make the decision based on the circumstances and what we know. John 6:65 even says no one can come to him unless God enables him. If God has not enabled us, we won't know about him or believe him, and therefore will not choose God. If God has enabled us, we will choose him.
                        You're missing the context of that verse. God enables those who believe in Christ to come to Him. We must first choose to believe in Christ.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by legoman View Post
                          I look at it this way. At one moment in time, we can look at the circumstances, weigh the options, and make a choice for good or bad. Whatever choice we make, that is the only choice that could have been made. The other option was never a possibility, since God knew that we would make the choice.
                          This doesn't make any sense at all. God knowing something beforehand is not the same as God making something happen beforehand. Why would Jesus have said what He did in the following verse if an alternative choice was never a possibility for the unbelieving Jews?

                          Matthew 23
                          37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by matthew94 View Post
                            Just because many people interpret the term 'free will' incorrectly doesn't mean the term is not worth using. If people think their choices aren't IMPACTED by their environment and, of course, by God, then they are certainly incorrect. But the rest of your post paints a picture in which the ENVIRONMENT and/or GOD actually force us to make whatever choice we end up making. Such is simply not the case. Circumstances can only make certain choices more likely or attractive. That is why kids, raised in the same household, with incredibly similiar environments can make incredibly different choices. Yours is a very mechanistic world. Mine is a very organic world.

                            The term 'free will' is, granted, redundant. 'Will' implies freedom in the sense that I originally declared. It's a freedom from being forced to choose. It's not a freedom from external influence (such a freedom isn't possible).
                            Exactly. What you said about people raised in very similar environments making very different choices is true. This is something that it seems our friend legoman is not properly taking into account.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

                              It would appear that we have a completely wrong definition of love. We like to define love by what we feel for our spouses or our children. Very touchy feely ways to think, yet completely wrong.

                              Luke 6:32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

                              Love is obviously something based on freewill, for we have the choice to reveal our love, or to not.

                              1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
                              3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous
                              Last edited by Emanate; Oct 22nd 2008, 01:33 AM. Reason: editing

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X