The other day, someone asked me a question which at the time seemed more rhetorical than practical. The question was,
Is God Love because He is, or is He Love because He chooses to be?
I since have somewhat subconsciously contemplated this question. Several weeks down the road, I believe I have come up with an answer that is not rhetorical, an answer that eminently is practical.
Rhetorical questions that have merely rhetorical answers are part of the bane of modern society.
First, however, I have arrived at the conclusion that none of the choices brought up in that conversation provide good answers to the question.
None of the choices we considered — ‘Love by choice’, or ‘Love because He is’ are good answers.
If God is Love by choice, which as you shall see cannot be shown to be a falsity, it becomes difficult to explain how exactly it is ‘God is Love’. The statement, ‘God is Love’ connotes being or essence. Choice, however, does not necessarily connote essence.
Choice lacks robustness for describing essence of a thing.
Consider that a person who chooses to wash his or her car does not by virtue of said choice transform himself or herself into a car wash technician. Just because you choose to eat bread every morning does not imply there is such a thing as a bread eater.
A person can choose to study computer science, choose to become a computer scientist. Essence of the person may not, however, transform into that of a computer scientist. Being a computer scientist just may be a way to make a living — a side gig to what it is he or she really enjoys that is facilitated by computing, which is surfing.
A surfer can choose to become a computer scientist because it provides lots of money for what they really are — a surfer.
Choice does not necessarily connote essence, does not necessarily connote what is most important to a person.
If we assert that ‘God is Love because He is, because He exists’, it appears God does not have any choice over His essence. But if God does not have any choice over His essence, how then can He be God? How can we safely place trust in God if it appears He does not have any say, any control over His very own essence?
If you were considering babysitters you probably would not employ a teenage girl who answers,
to the question, “Why do you want to babysit?” At the very least you would expect her to say, “Because the money is good.”
In presence of the assertion that ‘God is Love because He is, because He exists’, we end up in the age old rhetorical conundrum which is,
How then did God acquire His essence?
Is there a GOD who is ultimate creator, who is source of God?
But if there is a GOD who hides behind God, He cannot be a benevolent GOD, must have conjured God as a front for His malignant behavior.
The answer I have come up with that resolves issue of choice, and issue of being, that leaves no room for GOD behind God?
God spends all of His time, each and every second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, century, millennium figuring out what exactly is the most Loving thing to do in that very moment.
As proferred, God is Love because a determination of the most loving thing to do is what is most important to Him, is His very essence. God is not Love because He sits in some vacuum in space meditating, because He attempts to fill Himself with Love. God is Love because Love is all He contemplates to do at every moment in time.
‘God is Love’ is a statement of intentions and actions, not some mere metaphysical aphorism.
With respect to choice, it is not that God chooses to become Love, rather it is much deeper, it is that God chooses to spend His time on contemplation of the most loving thing to do.
God is Love because Love is what He does, because Love is what He contemplates to do.
God knows what Love is, but at every point in time, Love can best manifest as mercy, or justice, or kindness, or demonstrations of not being pleased with people’s actions, or patience with people’s flaws, or acts of warning, or acts of judgment.
God is Love because He devotes His time to balancing all of the different facets of Love.
Importance of God’s determination of the most Loving thing to do is evident in the following illustrations.
Should a desperate mother who shoplifts bread so her children can have dinner be caught? An angel could be dispatched so the beeper on the retail chain’s door does not go off.
Should a country that eats up it’s leadership creation machine via abandonment of good values be allowed to spiral out of control if there is not any sign of repentance? Would natural consequence of their bad choices cause them to repent, or does God need to ramp up the pain for inducement of repentance? Whom God loves He chastens does He not?
Much like God, if we contemplate how best to love we become more loving. If we contemplate how best to hate, we become more hateful.
If we contemplate how best to ensure no one in society is left behind except by their own choice, that purpose is achievable. If we contemplate that some people must be left behind in a capitalist economy, we will do no better than that which we contemplate.
If we contemplate innovation which truly can create new economic equilibriums for the entire world is feasible, we would celebrate non-qualifying innovations, yet wait for the real deal to emerge before we declare the quest for the next new big innovation to be over.
A sage man gives the following advice (I paraphrase) about how best to spend time if we seek to develop good essence.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, think about how to do these things, so you can become these things.
Who knows, you just might become like God.