Monday, January 27, 2014

True love

Freewill theists accuse Calvinism of having a defective view of divine love. Of course, I've discussed this on various occasions, but now I'd like to approach it from a different angle, or at least flesh it out.

I think it's safe to say that every normal person needs to have a least one person in their life who truly loves them. No doubt they'd like to have more than one person who truly loves them, but that's the bare minimum. If they don't have that, they don't have enough to sustain them emotionally. 

And what about the abnormal people? Well, I think they're abnormal because they didn't even have that one person growing up. For some of them, it's too late. They're emotionally stunted or sociopathic.

But over and above that, I think every normal person harbors a deep-seated need to have at least one person in their life who loves them more than he (or she) loves anyone else–be it from a father, mother, or grandmother, brother or sister, husband or wife, son or daughter, best friend, girlfriend, or boyfriend. 

If everyone is special to you, then no one is all that special to you. If no one is more special to you than anyone else, then no one is special. Not really.  

I think most people hunger to be the unrivaled object of affection in at least one person's heart. Hold that uniquely special place, in the inner sanctum of their heart. 

We don't merely want to be loved the same way as everyone else, like interchangeable parts. Whether adding or subtract someone makes no difference. 

There's nothing wrong with equitable love. That has its place. But there's a yearning that will never satisfy. A yearning to be that one person in someone else's life. To occupy the center. 

And that's the stuff of many dramas. Take a drama in which two lovers are threatened by natural disaster. But for whatever reason, his beloved can't leave. Maybe she's too weak or wounded to make the arduous journey. She urges her lover to leave her behind. Save himself. But he refuses. He will stay by her side. He'd never abandon her. If she dies, she won't die alone. They will die together. 

Another variation on this theme is where two lovers are separated when natural disaster strikes. The lover is off in a safe place. It is hazardous for him to go back. But, of course, he does go back to find his beloved. At great personal risk, he repeatedly endangers himself to get back to her–heedless of the perils. 

His beloved is injured. Hanging by a thread. The only thing that keeps her going is her faith in him. She's sure that he is out there, looking for her. She knows what she means to him. He'd never give up on her. He will always come back for her–or die trying. He can't live without her. That's her only hope. 

And, of course, it's reciprocal. She means that to him because he means that to her. They're devoted to each other. Each needs the other to love, and each needs the other to love them back. A tight, unbreakable circle of mutual giving and receiving. Inseparable unless death comes between them. And even then the love remains. 

That's all very romantic, and most of the time it's not very realistic. A dramatic cliche. But it's popular, retold in countless ways, because it taps into a deep and often unrequited longing. An ideal we wish was real. We seek it, whether or not we find it. 

And it would happen more often if situations like that happened more often. It's not just fiction. In many cases, the potential is there if all the circumstances were in place.  

Some lives are strangely linked. You have widowers who die weeks or months after their wife dies. As if marriage became a mutual life support system. When one was disconnected, both died. 

Needless to say, I'm not claiming that's directly analogous to divine love. God loves us without needing us. My point, though, is that "true love" can be very discriminating. The less extensive, the more intensive. That's not the only kind of love. Not necessarily better than another kind of love. But that's a kind of love that people hanker for–more than any other kind of love.  

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how many arminian women would be content with a husband who decided to indiscriminately show the same love he has for her with other women. Somehow I doubt that they would put up with that even if their husbands argued (like arminians tend to do) that their wives were proposing a defective view of love. ;)