There is line of thinking that began in American culture during the hippy movement of the 1960s and has continued to grow in popularity until it proliferated even Christianity. I’m referring to the concept of “unconditional love”. Over and over we hear people talking about how we need to love others “unconditionally” and how others should love us “unconditionally”. It also has morphed into the idea that God’s love for us is “unconditional”. What a bunch of horse manure! Nowhere in the bible does it say that love is to be without conditions…in fact, the phrase “unconditional love” isn’t even in the bible. (Not to mention that the bible is clearly a list of conditions God has for his people.) Funny how Christians are so quick to make such unbiblical ideas and phrases in to pillars of the faith!
The other phrase that is repeated over and over again until it, too, has become accepted “doctrine” is “God loves you just the way you are.” Wrong!! God loves you in spite of the way you are!
He loves you when you are broken and in sin. He loves you when your life is a disaster, if you’ve committed adultery, are lost in addictions, or cheating and lying up a storm. It’s not that God doesn’t love you, he does… but he expects you to change.
We need to repent, to grow, to mature as Christians. But when people mistakenly say, “God loves you just the way you are”, what is either spoken or implied is the caveat that you don’t have to change.
Words have meaning and by using this oft-repeated phrase, we’ve created a generation of Christians who do nothing to please God, simply because they don’t think they have to. They think that God is there to please them. Most think, “I said the prayer. I’m covered.” But they are still committing adultery, looking at porn, cheating, lying, and not going to church, or giving of their time or money. After all, they believe, “It doesn’t matter what I do…God loves me unconditionally…just the way I am.” It’s broken theology.
This maligned concept of Christianity is the very reason why so many marriages stink. Quite simply, people are taking their bad theology into their marriages, where they think there are no requirements, no consequences, and no conditions. They expect that the same “unconditional love” that they mistakenly believe God has for them applies in their marital relationship too. The worst marriages on earth are those that one or both spouses buy into this broken thinking.
These are the marriages where women think they can have “boyfriends” and guys think they can have “girlfriends” that they hang out with, text message with, go to dinner with and they say, “No one can tell me who I can and can’t be friends with!” The marriages where spouses will spend money, not pay their bills, not save for their kid’s college, because, “I want to buy a boat or spend it on a new wardrobe and nobody can tell me what I can and can’t do with my money.” These are the sort of people that stay out till all hours of the night and come home whenever they feel like it stating that, “No one is going to control me.” They demand that their spouse loves them without condition and are simply living out their broken theology in the home.
They reason that God loves them unconditionally, so the rest of the world must love them unconditionally, too. No matter how selfish and boorish they behave, there can be no conditions. Their spouse is to love them no matter what. They think they are passionate about God, they say they are growing in their faith when they are not. They are deceiving themselves. All because they believe the lie that love is to be “unconditional”.
When we look at our marriages what we really see is a reflection of what our theology is and where our faith is. People think their marriage is a disaster despite their faith, but I argue it’s a disaster because of their faith. Because their version of faith is “it’s all about me.” People like this think, “I want to be happy no matter what. God loves me no matter what. There are no conditions, I can do anything I want.”
Like the recent email I received about the guy who goes to church and praises God, but is mad his wife because she won’t let him have girlfriends. He was indignant that she would tell him who he could be friends with! How dare she do that! Why? Because of his reasoning, “God loves me just the way I am.” Therefore, his wife should too. Okay…you go with that, sir. Take that into eternity; see how that works for you. See if when you get up there God says, “I love you just the way you are, you don’t have to change.”
I’m afraid a lot of people are going to be in for a shock. Listen, I’m not being judgmental, I’m just telling you the truth. Your marriage reflects your theology and your faith. If you can’t live it at home, you can’t live it. If your relationship is suffering, if it stinks, check your thinking. It may be more about your bad theology than your bad marriage.