There’s No Such Thing as Unconditional Love!

Category: Weekly Columns

Savage Chickens take on Unconditional Love

Some religions and some spiritual groups/thinkers like to use the idea of “Unconditional Love” in ways that are bunk. Most EVERY love we have for every other human being is absolutely conditional and should be.

Dog and Cat love

Marriage is often referenced as an institution that includes UL as I’ll refer to “Unconditional Love” hereafter. Yes, we take vows of fidelity and other “obligations” but if we are completely honest, marriage is a contract, a deal. In traditional Judaism there is a legal document called a Ketubah, which is literally a marriage contract.

Most Jewish couples, whether overtly religious or not, get a beautifully caligraphed Ketubah, that is usually signed and sealed by the rabbi that performed their marriage. The fact that most of these couples can’t understand the Hebrew in which its composed is besides the fact.

Unconditional Love

Let’s be honest about marriage. It is Let’s Make a Deal in how we court one another and what we expect from each other in the marriage. Traditionally, a man was the breadwinner and the woman the homemaker. Since that’s changed with the times, our roles may be different but the contractual nature of the relationship is still present nonetheless.

Many marriages begin with a pre-nuptial contract, which is explicit in financial expectations and sometimes other things as well. Speaking from personal experience and years of therapy, there’s NO DOUBT that my marriage is a deal. Our family therapist has stated that fact in unequivocal terms. My wife and I may not always agree on what is expected in “our deal” but we absolutely acknowledge that it is a deal. Yes, love is a big part of (our) marriage and yes, we can have romantic ideals but it is still an arrangement with defined expectations.

Dog Love

Many parents will exclaim that they have UL for their children and on that there can be more layers, subtlety, and disagreement. I expect and want my boys to be good people. I won’t unconditionally forgive them if they hurt other people except in self-defense. I will still love them but I may have less respect for them.

There are many examples of where and when a parent’s love is tested. The most egregious examples are of children who commit heinous crimes. Some parents stand by their kids and make excuses for their behavior. Some parents simply stand by them and declare their love. Other parents will disown an errant child whether due to drug behavior or serious crimes. I will not judge anyone in those circumstances but I understand both decisions.

God = Dog, Dog = God

I will state here and now that if either of my boys were to wantonly and violently hurt another human being for profit or gain, my love would be diminished if not erased.

There are some religious faiths that will forgive mass murderers. Sorry, that doesn’t fly by me. The ONLY person that can forgive a murderer is, perhaps, the victim’s family. When Timothy McVeigh killed hundreds in Oklahoma in his domestic terrorist attack, I remember seeing signs from some religious groups saying they forgave him. That sickened me. Who gives them the right to do that? Maybe God can forgive. Maybe the victim or the victim’s family can forgive. But, NO ONE else has that right.

There is one place, ironically, where UL exists for the most part. And that is with our pets. They do seem to love us unconditionally. However, when my beloved dog Simon nearly killed another dog in an unprovoked attack, I took responsibility and the question of “putting him down” was vigorously debated. Thankfully, the other dog’s family cut us some slack and we didn’t have to put him down.

Dogs love us unconditionally

But animals are animals. I don’t believe animals operate on any moral compass. Only human beings do. And that is why I do not believe in UL. The bigger picture of life and its meaning rests with God. I don’t claim to understand his ways nor do I believe any human being can.

Do you believe in an unconditional love?

  • sweeper78

    Hmm, randomly saw someone retweet this on twitter..and never
    been on this site before. I think even animals give us their love with certain
    conditions-ie. we feed them, give them a home, etc and they give us their love
    and affection and their slobbering kisses 🙂 I do think unconditional love
    exists, particularly between parent and child (which you bring up). A parent
    can love a child no matter what they do, but that doesn’t mean they like or
    respect that child or even want to spend time with that child. I think love
    comes in all crazy shapes and forms, some that might not make any (rational)
    sense. I think women particularly are taught to love unconditionally especially
    when it comes to their intimate relationships and that you are a bad
    woman/partner if you don’t love your partner no matter what he/she does. So
    even if your bf, hubs, etc abuses you, cheats on you, steals from you and etc
    you should still love him. To that, I think I might say sure you can love him,
    but you should not remain in a relationship with someone who crosses certain
    lines, who violates your conditions.

    Just because love isn’t unconditional though, doesn’t take
    away from its strength, importance, and beauty in our lives. Just because you
    don’t love someone unconditionally, doesn’t mean that you don’t truly love them.

    I hope that if I ever meet a man who loves me and who I love
    we respect and honor each other’s conditions.

    Just my humble opinion…

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I “LOVE” your humble opinion @sweeper78:disqus – come join #DadChat Thursday at 6:00 p.m. PT – we’re an awesome community of Dads and Moms, Men and Women – from all over the world!

  • Pingback: Unconditional Love and Find Your Kid's Passion with Thrively.com | Bruce Sallan Radio Show | Bruce Sallan()

  • David Weber

    This is a very rich topic for reflection. I would tend to say that unconditional love exists in four ways — none of which is unconditional love as such.

    One way it exists is as a metaphor — as an term of art for a type of loving that implies little or no judgment of you by your partner (and, if it’s bi-directional UL, of your partner by you), and few if any minefields that one partner has planted that the other may inadvertently enter.

    Another way is as a goal to pursue. I may, in other words, wish or hope to love my partner (and be loved by him or her) “unconditionally”; and to the extent that I can train myself to be loving in that way, I learn to love unconditionally. Some may say it is goal that is impossible to reach; but by seriously pursuing it, rich and profound love occurs and is shared as a result.

    The third way is as a theoretic concept that has been explored and examined by philosophers, thinkers, scholars, members of clergy, and more, for centuries. I don’t want to name-check here, but it is not inappropriate to make reference here to Martin Buber as just one example. He did not, to my knowledge, use the term “unconditional love,” but he reflected and wrote extensively on the concept of an “I-Thou” relationship, which may be effectively understood as something like unconditional love…or at least unconditional appreciation of the human-ness of the other person, leading to compassionate attention and a form of love.

    The fourth way is as a superficial or uninterrogated concept; one that gets tossed around here and there as if it is it is something that can be “done” primarily through will, training and therapy. I am delighted that the therapist, if I read the column correctly, said that love is conditional by its nature (I’m paraphrasing) and that UL therefore is essentially a myth.

    UL has meaning for me in the second and third ways. The second way reminds me that UL or “I-Thou” is something to learn how to do. The expectation is that I will fall off the wagon and NOT love unconditionally when it would otherwise be prudent or vital to do so. The third way gives me some descriptors for what would be happening if I were indeed loving unconditionally; and in that manner, I have a road map to follow in the event.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      TY David, lots of food for thought in your comment and a LOT of wisdom, too!

  • einekleinestimme

    There is no such thing as “Unconditional Love”. It is a myth and LIE created by the very worse humans that ever chose to deny God and love Darkness. Sadly many many follow the example of the gullible “silly women” mentioned in the Scriptures as being led away. The exact words are of the persons who deceive:
    this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women
    laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
    Who are those that create this MYTH of Unconditional Love
    “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,
    disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
    Without natural affection,” {FYI that means homosexuals}
    “trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce,
    despisers of those that are good,
    Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
    Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:”
    Then we are commanded by The Lord via Timothy “from such turn away.”
    (2 Timothy 3:1-6)

    WHAT IS THE EFFECT of Unconditional Love ? and
    Why IS IT SUCH A DANGEROUS DOGMA?
    because with no conditions on any behavior the only result is EVIL
    those who have no conditions on their anger — Murder !! Fact
    those who have no conditions on their marriage — defile it with Adultery or Abuse or
    worse perversions (for example incest)
    Those who have no conditions on social mores laws or conventions become terrorists!
    Those who have no true honor of The Constitution become Socialist/marxist/Democrats!
    Those who have no conditions reject the Rule of Law set by That Constitution that gave us this nation and its prosperity inventions and treasures including this internet forum
    by which we can express ideas and either promote the truth or express the ugliness that rises from ‘the natural man’ and follow after the mindset of Evil given to man since Adam & Eve partook of The Fruit of the Knowledge of GOOD and EVIL.
    Everyone that is brighter than a 25 watt bulb knows evil men and poisonous women exist — and the same know the purity innocence and beauty of the baby in the arms of new mothers and fathers to know that life starts in purity and from a holy source.
    Every science, every discipline of science, every formula of mathematics, every function of physics, or biology or astronomy OR name any technical aspect of LIFE
    has CONDITIONS. you enter the wrong number or remove a salient feature
    in any of those sciences or disciplines and you GET NOTHING or Corrupted Results
    There is nothing in the Entire Universe as man has come to understand
    where Conditions are absent!
    The only way anyone can ever entertain the idea of Unconditional Love
    is to Disregard and Reject the entire knowledge of mankind, every science, every observation of life (whether of men or women, whether flora or fauna).
    From rocks (be they igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary) to the single cell life
    Whether from the microscopic that in magnitudes of life and variety and complexity of existence TO the macroscopic of the ever greater viewed endless expanse of The UNIVERSE by space telescopes and spaceships sent into outer space– ALL require the complexity and necessity of Conditions (formula facts features and realities)
    NOTHING IS nor can anything every BE which does not involve Conditions – that which exist before a level state of complexity of any part force or reality is known to the conditions of the changes or seeming utter annihilation of substances.
    AGAIN — there is no possibility of the absence of conditions.
    And this is only the beginning of evidences and argument establishing UL is a LIE
    Twenty years in the field of law and personal experience with some of the most outstanding minds of medicine science and jurisprudence gives me a clear Understanding that Conditions are prevalent and required EVERYWHERE
    and absent the requisite conditions appertaining to each fact scenario; symptomatology
    of diseases or progress of injuries or maladies — or the results of applications of actions in construction; the basis and conduct of science or law– ALL those minds (consulting and testifying Experts) consistently and repeatedly with masterful power of facts and experience Verified the reality of CONDITIONS
    It is an affront to logical rational and ethical Reasoning to suppose there can be
    a state of mind or the affections and expressions of the heart of a man or woman that could create a state that would Violate and Contradict the REALITY OF LIFE
    for such as ‘Unconditional Love’ to even be a abstract possibility.
    For it is not and cannot and never shall EXIST
    not enough — so
    Before this world ever was formed and put into its orbit there was a LAW proclaimed by God — the same God Jesus proclaimed and prophets raised bore witness exists
    created a Law relative to the blessings we as Children begotten unto God would operate — and when we obtain any blessing from God it is predicated on Obedience to the law for that specific blessing. Now many may not believe that to be the case. But I attest and affirm it is so. Logic and Life does very well in substantiating the reality of that fact.
    But to all – is both the challenge and avenue to pursue — If any of you lack wisdom — let him ask of God who gives unto all liberally. It just takes faith humility and diligence and you can obtain your answers relative to God and questions of Faith
    Science History and personal brain power can establish what God gave men to ascertain that which on earth is observable and testable. The spiritual Realm also has conditions — and avenues of exploration and discovery. One path is darkness cruelty and Evil. And the other is to the Divine Source of all that is wholesome pure and eternally designed to bring a fullness of Joy. Since Love is more in the dimension or venue of the spiritual– You may wish to explore that which God The Father and His Son Jesus Christ has sought to lay out for men to learn of them. And lo and behold (not sarcasm intended) The Holy Ghost is there and real and can confirm both Truth and verify that which is not of God and is Evil.
    This subject and this LIE of Unconditional love is very significant to me personally
    as I have with my own eyes seen and my own ears heard and my own hands shaken the hands of two Holocaust survivors in West Berlin Germany in mid 1970s. They were eye witness to the reality of Evil that flows from the monster who was Adolf Hitler and those who loved Darkness more than Light and cast out Conditions in their behaviors politics and actions leading to the murder of innocent lives. Hitler and the Nazi The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (i.e. German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) They rejected the civil society and seeking for blood and revenge; & threw out the conservative values and Morals of Christianity — seeking to reject The Conditions of Civility and Moral Decency to create Death and Destruction. I saw and walked in the remnants left only twenty five years before my first visit to Germany
    And I walked in and around the bombed and bullet ridden building still present during my years living in Germany on my second visit/time to that nation.
    Those persons who reject Conditions —
    become monsters and end up doing what the Nazis did.
    Those who think they can pretend to some vaunted ideal that rejects Life Science Math and God– and bring anything but Misery and Desolation are not just fools
    they too will be those that burn people alive- create torture chambers and Wars of atrocities. You cannot play with Evil and not be tainted or ultimately be taken captive and then later grow to a willing advocate of Evil. That is the dynamic of Evil
    And this idea, myth and dogma of Unconditional Love is one of the many paths that lead to what I saw in the eyes of those survivors- the horrors of Evil. For them they survived (thank God) while millions upon millions did not. The LIE of Unconditional Love is as dangerous as unchecked nuclear radiation or a unfettered virulent plague. If you partake of it — It will Destroy You. It may take a while– but its full effect is just as deadly!