A friend of mine commented on the last blog saying humorously since we were moving into the love of God that that meant no more metaphysics. I’m sure he knows that’s not the case since, yes, there is even a metaphysics of love. That’s where we’re going to begin today in our look at the doctrine of God with the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas as our guide. You can read it for free at newadvent.org. Tonight, we will start this question with asking if love is in God.
Some objections to this rely on the belief that love is a passion. This is nothing new then really. Now let me be upfront and say that love can indeed result in strong passions. However, it does not always have passion. Those of us who are good fans of Lewis know that he has warned us that the passion is an explosion meant to start us off in the right direction, but we dare not make a diet out of that passion.
Aquinas tells us that God is not one with passions because those passions come through the senses out of the sense appetite. The body responds to love, fear, joy, anger, etc. Insofar as these relate to the senses, then they are passions that God does not have for he does not have senses. However, God can have eternal love and joy because that is a matter of the will and God eternally wills the good. This is also a reason why he does not have anger. God is not eternally angry at anything. That would mean he’s eternally responding to sin in a way that affects his very nature.
God does love however because he has a will and like any will, his will seeks the good. Aquinas tells us that we only seek the good directly and the evil indirectly. Consider the case of a man who wants to have an affair. He does seek something that he deems a good, pleasure. It is not to be disagreed that pleasure is a good. However, the way he seeks to get that good is an evil, he wishes to have an affair.
This is a point I like to use in the abortion debate. What are some reasons given for an abortion? So a teenager won’t have to raise a child, or so a woman can pursue a career, or to give financial peace. Now when I hear the goals desired to be reached in the debate, I by and large consider them good goals. However, the question I want to ask is “How does abortion help me to be good?” Just because my goal is good, that does not mean the means chosen to get there are good.
Keep in mind as has been said that the only way one can will something is if they believe that something is good. Now they could be twisted and evil and what they will is twisted and evil, but there is something that they are reaching for that they perceive to be a good.
Aquinas also tells us that an act of love tends towards two things. That is the good of the willer and the person for whom it is willed. Thus, to love your neighbor as yourself is to seek the other person’s good as if it was your own and in doing so, lo and behold, you find your good. So many of us run around seeking happiness for ourselves and yet what we need to realize is that if we seek the happiness of others, we will eventually find our own.
So we do conclude that love is in God for God is always willing the good and that includes his own good. It behooves us to be in covenant alignment with him and be on the receiving end of his good as well.
We shall continue tomorrow.