Monday, March 16, 2009

A Little Spiritual Help #8: God's Relationship of Love

Why has God allowed the angels and man to sin? Why does God permit evil and suffering? We answer: Because he is a God of love. Love implies sharing, and love also implies freedom. As a Trinity of love, God desired to share His life with created persons made in His image, who would be capable of responding to Him freely and willingly in a relationship of love.

Where there is no freedom, there can be no love.

Compulsion excludes love; as Paul Evdokimov used to say, God can do everything except compel us to love Him. God, therefore - desiring to share His love - created, not robots who would obey Him mechanically, but angels and human beings endowed with free choice. And thereby, to put the matter in an anthropomorphic way, God took a risk: for with this gift of freedom there was given also the possibility of sin. But he who takes no risks does not love.

Without freedom there would be no sin. But without freedom man would not be in God's image; without freedom man would not be capable of entering into communion with God in a relationship of love.

Archimandrite (now Bishop) Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1st Paperback Edition, 1979), 75-76.


Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

Thank you! This touches on a theme I've been struggling with for a while now--they question of human freedom and autonomy relative to God and His love for us.

In Christ,


charlene said...

Father James,
Thank you for posting this comforting piece. I think it relatrs to an earlier question of mine. I said I did not think our loving God wants us to suffer and be in anguish and pain. Here Bishop Hopko is saying, that the pain and suffering comes from our sin and the sin of others - of all mankind, and the only way yo do away with pain and suffering would be to take away mankind's free will. Sometimes an individual's pain and suffering comes about through his/her own actions: a man steals and is sent to prison. God can forgive the sin, but the consequences cause the man suffering. The man's family must also ear the consequencesand suffer though they had no part in the theft. This is not the same thing as God WANTING us to suffer anguish and pain. What He wants is for us to stop sinning. And the moment the thief or his family reach out a hand to our merciful and merciful God, His love is frely given. I think God feels our pain, just as a mother feels pain when her child is hurting. Am I running down a non-Orthodox path here?
Father bless.


Fr. James Early said...


Right on target once again!