Love and Free Will

Light hand knows confidence. Tight hand knows fear.

Controlling love is an oxymoron. The moment we try to control by means of love is the moment we cease loving. It matters not if our control has good intentions or is kind and gentle. We cannot and must not call this love. Therefore, love respects the other’s free will—to choose however deemed best. To manipulate or remove this choice is to simply confuse love with self-interest.

Understanding Uncontrolling Love

If this seems harsh or unrealistic, then just take time to honestly reflect if it’s possible for love to be anything other than freely given and freely chosen. To compromise such freedom is to compromise love itself. Obviously, with such freedom also comes responsible obligations because healthy relationships require both giving and taking. Thus, loving relationships only survive when each person commits to serving the other at least as much as him or herself. In other words, each aspires to uncontrolling love.

This is also not to say love can’t be firm or tough or without expectations. No, love must be courageous and honest. It must be bold enough to ask for what it needs. But it honors the choice of the other and receives with grace whatever is given. While we may accept that all of this is true, we must also admit that we don’t always love well and we’re not always loved as well as we’d like. So what do we do when love becomes difficult?

Christianity and Love

In a culture that has equated love with pleasure, it’s no wonder why healthy relationships are in such short supply today. But as Christians, we have great reason to hope for love because when we have done all we can, God gives us grace to love beyond our ability. He empowers us to love in a way that is patient and kind, and is not proud, self-seeking, or easily angered but always trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Such a love will surely never fail (I Corinthians 13:4-8).  

Faith and Fear

So, how we love those closest to us reveals how surrendered our hearts are to God. When our dearest relationships feel threatened, we’ll either respond in fear or press in to faith. Unfortunately, when we choose fear we set ourselves up to undermine the very relationships we’re trying to save.

There’s nothing wrong with having fear—such is normal, such is human. What matters is how we allow fear to influence our actions. As Christians, we must choose faith if we hope to love well. And when we do, God helps us give him our fears in exchange for his empowering love. Here, we discover first-hand the confidence that only light hand can give as well as the fear that only tight hand will yield. Next week, we introduce our eleventh devotional poem, The Ebb and the Flow.

What Do You Think?

Have you experienced controlling love? Have you ever perpetuated controlling love? How might a closer relationship with God help one to overcome the fear of uncontrolling love?

♦   To see the poem this post is based on, click here.

Author: David Trementozzi

David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. To learn more about David, go to the About David page above.