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Unconditional love

A Christian teaching on unconditional love from Shawnthea Monroe-Mueller:

"The renowned Catholic theologian Karl Rahner built upon Paul's theology of love, but with a breathtaking twist. Rahner recognized that human beings are broken creatures. Left to our own devices, we are incapable of unconditional love. No matter how we might try, we can neither muster nor warrant such deep devotion. That is where God enters in.

* * *

The beauty of Rahner's theology is this: We do not feel God's love when other people love us. Instead, Rahner believes we experience God's love when we love others. God's perfect love enters our hearts and flows into the world the moment we choose not to complain about how the shelves are dusted, or choose not to fuss about what songs are played for a wedding, or choose to stand by someone in a moment of weakness and need. This is the nature and source of unconditional love."

There is a Jewish teaching on unconditional love in Pirke Avot:

"Any love that depends on a specific factor, will cease once the factor no longer exists, but if it does not depend on a specific factor, it will never cease."

Krishnamurti said that watching people without judging them is what produces love:

"Love will arise in your heart when you have no barrier between yourself and another, when you meet and observe people without judging them, when you see the sailboat on the river and enjoy the beauty of it."

But surely we judge people and situations all the time. We judge ourselves so that we can regulate our own behavior. The novelist Darin Strauss suggested that we must simply not judge others more harshly than we judge themselves.

"The bonds of love are best when you embrace the same outlook in judging your lover's flaws as you do your own. That is the key to forming the sort of attachment through which one chooses to unite oneself to another human being."


"Love's Dim Reflection." Shawnthea Monroe-Mueller. Printed in Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog. Edited by Raewynne J. Whiteley and Beth Maynard. Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 2003. pp. 129-130.

Pirke Avot 5:16

J. Krishnamurti. Think on These Things. ed. by D. Rajagopal. New York: Perennial, 1964. p. 82.

Darin Strauss. Chang and Eng (A Novel). New York: Plume, 2001. p. 227.


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