Damascene Ontology – How we know God is love

Some might desire to reject the Trinity for various reasons, but such a rejection would actually be extremely unwise. Since we know via the Damascene Cosmological argument that God is unnecessary and must be an unmoved mover (immutable), many theistic beliefs take for granted the idea that God is love. However, I wish to prove that if God is love then he must be Trinitarian. If we can prove that God is love (or accept the presupposition with reasons to embrace such a presupposition) then we can prove that God is Trinity. Thus, if God is necessary and God is love, then God is necessarily Trinity.

How would we go about proving that God is love? For instance, we could simply have a Deistic God who created all things and simply left them to be, growing disinterested in them or lacking a way to relate to them. How can we call such a God loving? I would argue that it is in the very act of creation that we find proof that God is love, but first we must define what love is.

In our modern Western minds, love is a muddled idea. When we describe sex, we call it “making love.” We use the same term “love” to describe an intense like for something (like ice cream or boating). We also use the word “love” to describe what occurs between a husband and wife. I believe that because we use this word so often, so flippantly, and ascribe so many meanings to it that we have lost a sense of what true love is. I want to look at some of the definitions the world offers as an idea of “true love” and show how all of these definitions are inadequate and how there is only one definition of love that defines true love, a love that all other forms of love flow from.

1)   Love is an intense emotional feeling – One of the more common misconceptions of love is that it is just a feeling. When you ask two people why they are in love, they say, “It just feels right.” And most of us know that feeling; the butterflies in the stomach, the happiness with the other person is around, the joy of being with that person, etc. But does that describe love? Is love nothing more than an emotional feeling?

For instance, does a parent love her child even though the love for her child is different than the love for her husband? Both come with different feelings. Her feelings for her husband are different and manifest themselves in a completely different way than they do for the child.

Another problem with such a view is that our feelings change. There are times where the butterflies disappear and the joy turns into frustration. Are we to say that the couple no longer loves each other? If love is so temporary as our emotions – which can change minute by minute – then is it something worth grabbing onto? Would you rather have a dog as a pet, with a lifespan of anywhere to 10-20 years, or a mayfly as a pet, with a lifespan of 30 minutes to a whole day?

If something is temporary it is rarely something worth pursuing. If love is temporary because it is merely an emotional state, then can it be something worth pursuing? While I acknowledge that emotions are involved in love, certainly the highest form of love is not found in our emotions. Certainly our emotional feelings and actions come forth from love rather than define love.

2)   Love is an intimate knowledge of another person – Another popular idea of love is having an intimate knowledge of another person. To love someone is to be so interested in that person as to know everything you can about that person. Certainly knowing a person is indicative of loving a person. If a husband doesn’t care about his wife’s hopes and dreams, then we must question whether or not he really loves her. But is intimate knowledge the highest form of love?

For instance, if someone writes a biography of President Obama can it be said that the person loves Obama? The person could look through all the facts of Obama’s life, look at his relationships, look at his upbringing, look at his politics, and still not love Obama even though he holds an intimate knowledge of Obama.

We could imagine that this same person could use such intimate knowledge to turn around and blackmail Obama, which all of us would say is quite unloving. Yet there are many people in this world who use intimate knowledge as a means to abusing a person, but this is not love.

While intimate knowledge may be a part of loving someone (at least in a deep sense), it certainly does not define love. Intimate knowledge can be used as a benefit or as a means to destroy a person, meaning that intimate knowledge itself is not love.

3)   Love is an affirmation of another person – Another form of love is affirmation, that you will affirm a person’s choices if you love that person. While you may not always agree with the choices, you will seek to affirm the person no matter what he chooses.

Certainly affirmation is a part of love, but not love itself. If a wife comes home and tells the husband that she wishes to obtain a degree in English so she can be a teacher, barring any legitimate problems with such a goal the husband will affirm his wife’s choice. Love cannot exist between two people when dreams are constantly shot down.

However, if the wife comes home and tells the husband that she wants to be a prostitute, then affirmation would be impossible if love were to exist. The reason is the wife would be volunteering herself to a profession that would harm the husband (emotionally and potentially physically) and would certainly harm the wife. She would be committing herself to a profession that degrades her body as nothing more than an object for pleasure. To affirm such a practice would be unloving.

Sometimes the best thing a lover can do is to contradict his love’s desire. Parents love their children, but a good parent will not affirm all of his child’s choices. A good parent will not let his child eat nothing but junk food and ice cream. A good parent will not let his child forgo school. Sometimes love means telling a person that he is wrong in what he is doing and seeking to correct a love. Thus, affirmation cannot be the highest form of love because sometimes the most loving thing a person can do is to withhold affirmation.

4)   Love is sex – In our modern world, especially post-sexual revolution, it is easy to equate sex with love. We even use the term “making love” to describe sex. We would also say that between a husband and wife who are capable, sex must exist as a display of love.

However, even a brief look at such an idea will soon eradicate any notion that sex is the highest form of love. For instance, what of the love between mother and child? No sex exists within such a love, yet love still exists. What about the love between friends where no sex exists, but love is still there? Or what about the love of an elderly couple, as the wife watches her husband die in his old age and they are incapable of having sex? Does she no longer love him because she can’t physically express that love to him?

Or what of the alternative, where sex exists, but love does not? Can we truly and honestly say that a “John” loves the prostitute? Can we say that two people love each other because of a one night stand?

It would appear that love can exist absent of sex and sex can exist absent of love, which would indicate that while sex might be a display of love in certain situations, it is not the highest form of love.

What, then, is the highest form of love? What can we point to that summarizes love in all cases? The one action that comes to mind is sacrifice and the greater the sacrifice, the greater the display of love. A parent sacrifices their time, space, money, and many other things to have a child. Yet in all this sacrifice they do not complain (or they should not) and even if they do, their actions betray their complaints.

But it is not merely the action of sacrifice that displays love. For instance, a man might give up $5 today if he knows it will make him $5,000 tomorrow. The temporary sacrifice doesn’t indicate love. Instead, we would qualify that love it as its highest form when a sacrifice is made with no hope or expectation of reward; love is an altruistic sacrifice. The more altruistic the sacrifice, the greater the love. A husband who waits on his wife while she suffers from cancer, knowing that he will receive nothing for his actions, is acting in a higher form of love than a couple who has sex. True lovemaking isn’t found in sex; it’s found in sacrifice.

Thus, the highest form of love is a sacrifice that is truly altruistic; the less a person has to gain out of an act of sacrifice, the greater the love. All marriages fail because the love ceased to be (or never was) altruistic. At some point, one or both partners began looking out for themselves more than the other person. That could result in an affair, in yelling, in abuse, or in “irreconcilable differences.” The key to a successful marriage is true love, that is, sacrifice. That is the key to any successful relationship. A parent will sacrifice for the child, which also means disciplining the child and preventing the child from harming himself at the risk of the child getting mad at the parent. No matter what, for any type of love to last it has to be sacrificial, a love that weathers storms and surpasses an emotional feeling.

Now, just because we may be poised to gain something in sacrificing doesn’t mean that love doesn’t exist. For instance, a husband might get chocolates for his wife in the hope that she’ll make dinner for him. This doesn’t mean such an action isn’t loving, merely that it isn’t the highest form of love, which is purely altruistic. Emotions, intimate knowledge of another person, and other forms of love do exist, but the highest form of love is altruistic sacrifice.

Since this view of love has been viewed as the highest form of love among most cultures and people in most times, it is safe to say that I am accurate in explaining how it is the highest form of love. But if sacrifice is the indicator of love, then how does this work when we apply it to God?

When we look to Damascene Cosmology we see that God created the universe and all within. Since everything is mutable and he alone is immutable, he alone is the creator of all things. But we have established that God did not need to create, that is, he gained nothing in the act of creation. When God created us he did not add to himself, he did not become better, he did not increase in any way. Thus, he gained nothing out of creating.

To take it further, we could say that creation was actually an act of sacrifice. If God is truly the creator, then as we discovered earlier in this essay, he is perfect in all things out of necessity; to be imperfect means that he lacks in something and has the capacity to become better. The capacity to become better would indicate that God is capable of change and therefore not God. Thus, God must be perfect in all things.

If all that exists is a perfect being, then only perfection exists (in every sense of the word). Only completeness reigns and there is nothing that is incomplete. Once God created, imperfection (that is, incompleteness) began to “exist.” Creation is not God becoming greater, but rather God making a sacrifice. God plus anything is less than God. God existed in a state of perfection and brought into existence a state of imperfection. He gained absolutely nothing out of creating and it was the most altruistic act one could commit.

The mere act of creation shows that God loves perfectly. By creating he gained nothing, but chose to continue sustaining his creation and allowing them to exist.

One could argue that maybe God created everything so that he could torture his creation. Maybe God is like a mean child who holds a magnifying glass up to a bunch of ants in order to kill them. But such an argument would mean that God needed creation, meaning God is mutable and therefore not God. If God created simply so he could torture his creation, then this means that he had no one to torture prior to creation, indicating that in order to fulfill a desire, he had to fulfill a need. Thus, such an argument doesn’t work.

One might quickly say that the same stands true for the idea that God loves. Prior to creation, God had no one to love, thus he created so he would have someone to love. He had a desire to love, therefore he created in order to love and showing that he had a need. Such an argument is actually true if we consider all other forms of theism, but Christianity escapes this argument because of the Trinity.

We now realize that God is necessarily the conclusion when we ponder the beginnings of the universe. We also understand that the act of creation is love, thus making God love. But what was once a once a problem for Christianity in light of Damascene Ontology – the Trinity – is now its greatest asset.