Free Will and Love

It is often claimed that in order for a being to be able to love, it needs to have free will, particularly moral free will. As in the case of man's relationship to God. It is argued that if we were not free to either choose him or not, then we could not truly love him. Choice is a prerequisite to love, so the argument goes.

The problem with this argument is that when applied to God, it is seen to be blatantly false. God is unable to choose moral evil. It is impossible that he should lie, etc... This is because he is constrained by his nature. He is unable to do that which would be inconsistent with his nature.

According then to the free-will theory, God cannot love. But this is obviously false, because God is love.

The key here is to understand the distinction between Libertarian and Augustinian free will. Libertarian free will, the most common human understanding of free will, states that humans have ultimate autonomy and freedom of choice, particularly in the moral category. The problem with this view is that it ignores the fact that choices derive from desires or appetites. The choices we make do not happen in an uninfluenced, utterly free context. They occur in the context of experience, inclination, and ultimately, the very nature of the being making the choice.

Augustinian free will states that humans do in fact make choices, but that these choices are "constrained" by our nature. Thus the choices we make are actually litmus tests for our nature. To put it another way, you can choose what you want. But you can't choose what TO want.

Applied to the free will love theory above it is plain to see that God does not have libertarian free will. He CANNOT choose to lie, he is constrained by his nature. In fact, that constraint does not hamper his ability to love, but is the very foundation of it.

Humans, on the other hand, do not have the pure nature of God. Our nature is corrupted and that nature constrains our choices. So when The Ultimate Moral Beauty (God) shows up to the human soul and says, "choose me", we find ourselves unable to. It is not in our nature.

That's the bad news. We WILL NOT choose God because we are corrupt.

The good news? God changes our natures by putting his Spirit within us, thus giving us the ability to choose him, constrained by our new natures.

And I love Him for it.