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HOW in the world do you need a licence to love!


One can understand at least such a response to the concept. Licence to make illicit sex, yes, that is a current issue for Sodoms of today, of which there seem to be many. But to love ? Surely if there is ONE thing which is FREE, so that the air seems heavy and inert by comparison (rather than a place of subtle shifts of direction, delicate mobilities, lightsome screening and just that blend of the material and the yielding which lifts the birds and caresses the grasses): it is love!

But HOW free is it ? If you love inordinately, you are unwise. You breach the relationship of your love to truth. You become a moth at the globe, vainly, devotedly and perilously near a flame which is merely for your destruction, with much information on your total depravity besides. Is a light WORTH that ? Is it not a flimsy fantasy which draws on your weaknesses, to your destruction.

I speak as for the moth!

But, disregarding this illustration from the vast pool of wisdom, in nature, which God has made, replete with rebukes and lessons, taunting mockeries of sin and exposures of human depravities in little things: you may persist. Surely moths may so disport their follies in vacuities that amaze; but they are moths. With us, surely (you notice the appeal, illicit likewise) we are so much better (or even so verr...y much better!

In what way ? Better built ? Certainly, more to you. Better behaved ? That depends. That raises the issue anew, is inordinate affection a mistake ? Of course it is, the very word so defines it. But then, you may insist, that begs the question, since the teerm inordinate as a word, and inordinate affection as a phrase, is merely a verbally expressed supposition that there is such a thing.

Is it ? Or does it describe what is often perceptible ? In what way perceptible ? In the manifest ignoring of some elements of life in favour of others. The best illustration comes when the dupe becomes aware later in life of the folly of this affection, that it ignored defects in the recipient, was ignorant entirely of other elements, that it represented a sort of admiration and butt for the mind or emotions to rest on, that it did not deserve anything remotely like this, or that it was in fact an idol, if not worshipped, then having some of the place of worship, in that it devoured the mind or drew the thoughts like a hobby, like golf, like SOMETHING to rest on.

You may however become obstinate, or at least our imaginary interlocutor. It may be, it could be pursued, that inordinate affection only seems so now, and that at the time it was correlative to the need of the person who had it. This is an abstract possibility; but when with more knowledge from more experience and more tests on more things, this conclusion is reached, it would be necessary to be able to show in what way such a conclusion was false, if this were to be a valid contention.

In other words, something may FEEL appropriate, and may have a spiritual zest about it to this effect, without being it. Analysis may later  (or in bad cases, at the time!) reveal that it is NOT appropriate because it had implicit assumptions of a kind later found to be incorrect.

In essence, the inordinate affection is a result of spiritual pathology. IF a person has worship for GOD, then this is properly inordinate, not in the sense of beyond what is ordinate, but in this, that it is beyond any compilation or restriction whatever. Perhaps  in this case a better word would therefore be: unbounded. There are no bounds for the affection for God because He is utterly worthy of whatever one has in that way, being morally perfect, ethically magnificent, graciously unrestricted, lovingly beyond parallel, and all this with perfectly objective knowledge of what He is doing, and without regard to the sacrificial cost of such things. To respond to this, without limit, is to respond to the illimitable; and in doing so, to put on no limit of one's own, IS something ordinate. It IS correlative, and it is correct.

But it is not compulsory.

When you fail to use your eyes, you are blinded. When you fail to use your love for God, you are grounded. You are rather like a bird which with wings, yet does not fly, a sort of kiwi, pleasant to look at, but without flight. You become a thing of pity or bathos, suggesting aerial activity, aeronautically indicative, but actually grounded. If you were a worm, this would be natural. If you are in appearance and shape a bird, it seems a depravity, a wrongful attachment to gravity, a gracelessness, an oddity, or an enormity, with just that sadness which dead youth and lost infants suggest.

Man without love to God is like a flower (plant) without blooms, atmosphere without oxygen.
You can have this state of affairs; but not with human life.

WHEN he is so, then the disposition of the emotions, of the affections and of the sense of the glorious is misplaced. Removed far from its origin and its need, its milieu and its design correlation (for man is made for God as well as in His image): all this is without its object. It has then to use lateral objects for the altitudinous, or if you want to avoid figurative speech, correlative creatures for the affections due to, and proper for the Creator. This is an infinite lapse and it has invidious results. It tends to allow exaggeration as the power for height becomes the dynamic for lateral thrust. It puts the creature in the place of the creator with quite absurd results.

The modern trend is not modern alone, here; but it is of quite disastrous proportions in keeping with the trend of the end, as specified in I Timothy 4, II Timothy 4, II Timothy 3, II Peter 2, Matthew 24. Its nature as a trend is specified in Romans 1:19 to the end. It includes this phase: "... their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man."

There you have the height and the depth, the due and the undue, the true and the fraudulent, the proper and the inappropriate, the authentic and the awful.


Hence when one finds from  Colossians 3:5-6, "Therefore put to death your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience...",
it is not surprising in this, that the pathology is exposed in kind. Actually the word paqos can be used in such phrases as lustful passion, or disgraceful passion; but also in the sense of the passion of Christ, born to die, dedicated to immolation, unyielding in fortitude, yet with the utmost delicacy of feeling about the depravity to be borne, consignment from man, swallowing up for each and every one who used His donation, all sin.

In other words, it indicates an illimitable, or at last unlimited thing, and because of this, it is appropriate where there ARE no limits.

But you may say, take friendship. The Bible makes it clear that to lay down one's life for one's friend, in the love of God (thus giving it a correct perspective and value structure as in John 15:12-13), is good. How is this so limited, and if it is not limited, how is it wrong to have 'passion' in the sense of disregard of consequences in the pursuit of some affection, love, regard, valuation ?

We have however already given the answer to this. The point is simple. We are made by another, and have responsibilities for the use of our equipment, to Him only. If in His perspective, ground plan, overview, survey, it is apt, as in some of the apostles, to lay down one's life, considering the need for example of those without God, to find Him, and hence to be willing to face perils leading possibly to death indeed, then so be it. This is an affection in place, this is a valuation sustainable, this is not a dream with an ass's head on some body, which 'love' has made to seem grand, and noble or estimable, or ideal or even more, as can happen if  the religious sentiment is outrageously misplaced, on a mere creation.

If however there is a commitment, say of a woman to a criminal, such that she is willing to be an accessory to crime, to cover for him, to lie, then there is a breach of what matters more for what matters less, of the values of God for the values of one's heart, and this is a contempt for the Creator.

It is also a contempt for His creation. It is not possible to HELP in the end, what is astray, by joining it; you only then weaken yourself and so reduce the power to help what you love. Thus I John 5:2 makes it clear that by THIS we know that we love the brethren, if we love God and keep His commandments. You do not help someone keep warm by setting the house on fire ... in the end!

Yet there comes just that thought: is not all this too sober about our fellow creatures. Surely
(again ?) we have a facility which has good place and which reflects well on the sensibilities of the race, to love in a way which PRECISELY does NOT count the cost ? Is this not a noble and a fine thing, without which we would be like cattle ?

The point is there. Wonderful indeed is a commitment, a devotion so noble and so fine that one can die for the object of one's love... provided the death is not to join in sin against the creator, to devalue the very spirit of life, to downgrade the calibre and to mock the beauty of life, for the sake of INORDINATE AFFECTION, uncontrolled passion, moth-like fascination which lacks integrity of vision or truth.

To die in protecting one's wife is proper and natural and fine: for if necessary, it fulfils the implicits of marriage, for in her (comparative) weakness of body, you are there to protect; and if you do so, and die, so be it. You have expressed your mutual devotion as is fitting. Your love has done what it is on survey, apt for it to do. It is neither cold nor merely dutiful, but beautiful, for you have shown life is not merely your oyster, something which you seek to maximise for your pleasure, leisure, satisfaction or some other seedy substitute for spirituality and godliness, and this without regard to  that love which endures for ever, which God is: it is rather something in which affection has a place above yourself, provided only that it is founded in the perspectives of spirituality, the grace of God, and the governance of God, and is not a mere rebellion for something strictly selfish.

Selfishness, whether in indulgence in inordinate passions, or in other gratifications, is irrational. YOU are not the centre of the universe, and to act as if you were is neither noble, nor good, nor wise, nor just. It is not so*1.


It is, then, even love, in one respect a matter of licence. It is not biblically apt to love without limit or direction, and to do this as it comes to you. You can love God, if your heart is mercifully so placed, with everything you have, and you do not love too much.

You can love God ...

In all this your love is without limit. You can love to your heart's content, your spirit's utter capacity, and you do not love one whit too much. You are appreciating the appreciable, responding without limit to the illimitable (Ephesians 3:14ff.), and you are not excessive.

But you may say, IS then God's love illimitable ? Was He willing to BECOME a sinner, in order to increase the empathy, like those clergymen who are willing to have few drinks and so lose their spiritual sensitivity, in order to 'reach' people ? No, He was not. He was willing to associate with them, and one has to; but He was not willing to be like them. He gained a reputation through slander; but He did not deserve it. That is commonplace. It is a work of love.

If He had become a sinner, then He would no longer be purity itself, and hence as a sacrifice He would have had His own sins to meet, and so be perfect in this, that He would become a perfectly useless sacrifice for sin for others! That would limit the efficacy of His love to infinity. That is not love but ... it WOULD BE inordinate affection. THAT, it is precisely the point!

When therefore Paul makes this statement in Ephesians 3:17-21, he is not in the least exaggerating nor is he justifying inordinate affection, which is simply irrelevant when the object is inordinate! ...

"that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what its the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

When what you love is love to perfection, your entire capacity is well directed to it. One needs however to be clear. Christ is a person. He is called love, God is called love, in this, that there is nothing contrary to its character, all is in conformity with its character, and in this, that He is the original and basis, the spiritual Father and resource of it, Christ the perfected expression of it as the living Word of God (John 1:1), of whom there is but One (Isaiah 45). WHAT that character is - it is as God has shown it to be. Even mothers, however drawn to their children, realise the need for something better than 'whatever happens', and correct. If teachers did not correct, there would be scant progress. Standards would fall. It is necessary to correct and to do so justly.

If on the other hand, there were no capacity to resist, then love could not live; it would be motorised human transport, and affections would simply be outworkings of desire, as was the trend in the school program referred to earlier. It would be a shameless shambles, unworthy of regard at all. You would push and it would move and affections would accrue according to results. Sacrifice would be without meaning, and love without a point of application.

SINCE there is a capacity to resist, there is a result of resistance. If this is hell, so be it. Many seem to mourn and maunder over hell; but it is quite impossible to get here because of some inherent deficiency, which is not your responsibility. Even original sin, which is a dominant and cursed thing, meaning simply that man from early days, when the first parents fell into sin, has had this uncontrollable reality called sin, like children born with AIDS, an awful picture, but a telling one, of the condition of our race: even this does not suffice to gain hell. It is enough to deserve it; but God is love. It is not enough to gain it.

Alas in pride man frequently loves to deny it, but in works to attest it. There is nothing original about original sin, except its origin.

But hell ? It is an illimitable thing in this, that it is for those whose address it becomes,  impossible to escape it; but who would want to escape, since the hatred of God, the determined desire to avoid Him, is its source, and the other option is GOD! As to the times of its operation, who knows what is the nature of time in hell, for it is not only a thing of destruction, but the things being destroyed, though they continue, in their very destruction, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, are in a eroded state. How do you have eternal destruction ? It is not a contradiction in terms, but it IS a thought provoking compilation. What is the exact nature of time in such a situation ? Time as we know it is for this world an invention (Romans 8:39ff.), and what is it in that ? The failure for extinction is for things in God's image, and the failure for approbation is for things which CANNOT be given it, even as a gift, since they reject this.

All this is what we find in John 15:21ff.. IF CHRIST had not come among them and done the works, said the things, no one else ever had, then they would NOT HAVE HAD SIN. The context is that which is irreparable.

No Christ exposure in this or a comparable manner, no hell is assured.  It is not for sin that people GO to hell, since there is a fountain for all sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13), and it is not because God refuses to accept some witless people, since IF we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:7ff.).

HELL is the desert of any sin; but it is the destiny, because of the love and mercy and goodness and restraint of God, only of that which is inveterately clung to, which is never given up, so that people DIE IN THEIR SINS (as in John 8:24). God is love so that there is NOTHING which love is, which is doable, which is not done. There is no question of His being almighty and yet failing to IMPLEMENT His love (as in I Timothy 2), such that He would that all repent and come to a knowledge of the truth. HE KNOWS, and HE ACTS in love; and He does not violate the image of God, in us, even though He also does not allow us the sovereign right to choose, in this, that sin blinds, and when blinded, one's choices are ... restricted (I Cor. 2:14).

THIS, it is not a moral question, an ethical question, a matter of love: it is an EFFICIENCY question, a SECURITY issue. If God left decisions to us, then we would be dependent on the limitations and restrictions of our own sin. It would be like giving the CHANCE of operating in a brain tumour case, to someone who from leprosy had lost the sense of touch and control in his fingers. Fine freedom that! God is realistic. His love is the guarantee, His sacrifice is the expression, in Christ crucified, His power is attested in Christ's miraculous control over all things WITHOUT VIOLATING the wilful liberties of folly, as in Jerusalem over which He wept, knowing full well what was coming to it, and why (Luke 19:42ff.). With this, His utter revulsion from the cost (Luke 22:39ff., Hebrews 5:7), was the expression of the depth of His commitment.

Love cannot force its object for the very simple reason that it then CEASES to be love and becomes a sort of ruffian substitute. It is not that it is PREVENTED; but that it would be contradicted by such an action, and would have to cease to be what it is, in order to do it. If you like, it would be a contradiction in terms. That is why you hear God saying: "Say to them, 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel!' "
(Ezekiel 33:11).

It is true that it is HE who pours out the Spirit from on high (Isaiah 32:15) WHEN He is ready;
but it is equally true that doctors, even on earth, wait until their patients are ready for an operation, not for lack of love necessarily, but for prudential considerations involving strength and preparedness on the part of the patient. If you are going to have a cancer, then it is well to be ready for the operation that may come. If people are going to play about with unredeemed sin, and wait till this and that, and they feel like leaving it, then of course the spiritual melanoma may become inoperable. It is not that God cannot, but that God has made things in the way He has chosen, and having plumbed all depths and understood all things, and having thus conformed the pattern, schedulings and all matters to His love, He has provided certain eventuations.

It is for man to seek the LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND (Isaiah 55), not in lordly fashion to depict for God's benefit what he will and will not do. It is so very easy, and perhaps sometimes fatally simple, to imagine that because God is love, that one has a sort of infinite value per se.
It is rather that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64), and that our best is not perfect, without God Himself within us, about us, and acting as Father through the ONLY PROVIDED SALVATION, that only operation that works, that is authorise dna appointed, that of Christ the redeemer. Even then, the perfection is only in the forward looking eye of our trainer, tutor and friend (cf. Hebrews 12:23).

Avoid that, and you avoid love. This is not the end of love, but the way to the endless end of the loveless. There IS not life without love; all that fails it, dies. It is the CONDITION of eternal life, along with truth. Christ IS the truth. Without Him, there not only is but CANNOT BE any life. By Him, there not only is, but must be life, WHEN He applies Himself to the case, and puts Himself in the place of the case, by vicarious atonement, and so covers and so adopts and so provides in and from Himself, that eternal life which He is (I John 1:1-14).


This is the liberty in love. It is free. When it is taken, it is real. When it is real, it is illimitable, since its very nature is now such that it is embraced in, by and for the perspective which sees things as they are. No longer does illicit love, idolatrous misplaced 'love', inordinate affection rule. Love in its purity can now have friendships which endure, marriage which is delightful, children to nurture without possessiveness or disregard. It is not limited as if by a governor, but rather replete; it does not lack the wisdom to find its best expression, nor yet the fire to have something to express. It is fire in the grate, and as we know, who have experienced farm fires in their embracive and instilling heat, there is a fire which not only does not burn to harm, but which uplifts, delights and continues. It is fire indeed and heat which is lovely.

What shall be said then of the 'love' which is specifically a mere convenience container, perhaps not even allied with marriage, in which two people acknowledge that for the time being, and under the present circumstances, their association gives a great mutual quality of life together, than apart; but hasten to add this, that if this situation should change, so that some other 'partner' should perhaps seem to provide this or some valued part of it, to a higher degree, then of course separation from the first partner is to occur. The little point that the other side of the first partnership might not perhaps find the same thing at the same time, and so be DUMPED along with the children, or dumped while the children, through due and proper legal process, are REMOVED from the partner who, being dumped, still desired the children: that this might happen is ignored. And that ? It is love.

Not at all! It has nothing whatsoever to do with love. It is self-satisfaction in the area of sexuality and affection and mutual care. If you want that sort of thing, this is its fallen and depraved nature, but it is only confusion of terminology to call it love. Love as seen in the very coverage in advance, has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

So it is in religion likewise. If you want a god who will give you satisfaction, or in one horrendous folly of pollution, worldly success, material gain through prudent activity in a wicked world, or a form of self-savouring 'happiness' so that this emotion is worth a lot, and you put the collection in the plate instead of giving a fee to some psychiatrist or guru: then that has nothing to do with worship, with the God who is love. It is a convenience religion specifically constructed for self-satisfaction.

Now if GOD were like that, the God who IS love, then how on earth would He ever have bothered to come to earth in the most exquisite pain and agony of mind, body and spirit, to achieve mockery and an infinite loss of 'success' and 'prosperity', in the pits of pollution, in order to salvage for purity and purposeful living in Himself, those whom He searched out and found!

It is quite useless to try to pretend that such was the gain of souls, and such His need of fellowship, that it was worth it, like a polar expedition to find treasure. GOD NEEDS NOTHING, and if He did, then the one in view could not be God. NEED means a disparity between desire and ability (otherwise it cannot arise); and that implies a MADE Being in which these qualities are DATA, or things given, and are to be met within some system NOT made by God Himself!

God's love is precisely unpatternable in terms of need, and selfish advantage and getting what you want by devious or at least indirect means, and looking one thing whilst in fact being another. GOD is a SPIRIT and just as His worship has to be in spirit and in truth (John 4), so His being is truth and His way is just and His need is zero. HE GIVES. It is better, says Christ, to give than to receive.

That is the way of love. It does not force; but it does give. If others are advantaged, this is the glory of it, that this is the thing desired. Love is like that. The love of God is like that. Those who are God's are like that, not trying through idolatrous masses, and invented gods*2, to find some end in peace; but walking in truth, without personal regard, for the love of the God who IS love, where ulterior motives do not exist, cannot exist, for that is His nature, and that is the way He unchangingly is, having always been unable to be limited, or denied what He would be. THIS HE IS, who said, I AM.



1) On this irrationality of selfishness, in any guise or form, see Little Things Ch. 7.

It is the cult of the self, whether in arrogant disdain, elevating oneself and one's 'moral' pretensions, actually a mere selfish intrusion in themselves, as if one were a god, and ultimately God Himself,  and could discern and announce what ought to be, like the Pharisees; or in drunken orgies of abandonment, satisfying the self; or else in ambitious zests of accomplishment, in parades of popularity, in flutters of esteem, in complacencies of fulfilment: it is all one. The SELF being the centre, the senselessness of the decision is in ordinate: and this being in its foundation, contrary to fact, becomes idolatry. God is source, centre and sovereign. He only CAN make morals; the rest is inclination, preference or assumption, based on nothing but the sinful, limited and delimited creation that walks, talks and ordains whatsoever does NOT come to pass, being subject to the One who does so ordain, and it does come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). See further in The Other News 19.

While it is joy to the just to do justice (Proverbs 21:15), the first question of justice, is what is right, and this is found in the Creator, whose redemption so far surpasses, but yet incorporates this, that it leaves to proper ashes the aspirations and actualisations of self-oriented flesh. It is He who gives the spirits of all flesh (Numbers 16:22), and weighs their doings (Proverbs 16:2), tries their ways (Psalm 11:4), and who has given to generosity a new dimension (Titus Chs. 2-3).

Some do not even make their own morals, but appear to become numb to the concept. Thus in a corporate case, someone may offend, or act in a way felt probably offensive. Realising the 'error', the offender may decide to apologise to the recipient of his behaviour. What may be the motive in such a case ? In some cases, it  may simply be this:

a) this may cause disregard, or disparagement in the mind of the person possibly offended. This could make rising in the future more difficult, or constitute an eccentricity that may pay poor dividends. Hence apologise.

b) this may bring feelings and approaches on the part of some, in some way, direct or indirect , sooner or later, which may being a measure of opprobrium. This hurts, and hurting is not pleasant, so in the name of ethical hedonism, apologise.

These could be joint motives.

In fact, the only 'moral', if such 'living', a form of dehumanised and dis-spirited degeneracy, could be said to have morals in such a matter, may be to get rich in order to help the family. As to that moral, it is merely selfish in the sense of self-based and centred, in an irrational fashion. It is not objective morals, but mere projection of ratings, with principles ad hoc as desired.

See further for the more poignant application, Generation of the Dispossessed. and Scoop of the Universe 51.

On the beneficent alternative to selfishness, whether it be expressed in survival or self-ordained 'nobility' or 'honourableness' for the satisfaction of self, and the disposition that goes with it, in Christian terms, see what follows.

2) On the other hand, to have zeal for good, to Ďavengeí evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21), showing the grace of love: this attenuates ruin, distances arrogance, promotes realism and impels the wayward toward thinking of this beyond themselves, towards seeking something above the reckless, feckless fiascos of blind self-will,  and irrational obscurantism.

In this, as in all we examine, there is always one result: verification of the word of God. The ways of God relate with beauty and effectiveness to mankind on earth; and the other ways are one endless speculation on specifications constantly changing, never rational, never enduring, reliable in one thing only, that they represent a collision of thought with reality, and a tangle of misguided ideas and misplaced movements. Where there is some measure of continuation through religion of manís own making, there is yet the same inveterate conflict with reality, the drafting by force or folly of man like cattle, alas more and more obviously, with foot and mouth disease. In Pakistan, in the treatment of women, in the Sudan in the treatment of those not of Islam, there is the same thing as has been attested from the Koran: the use of violence in matters of faith. Cf. SMR pp. 48ff., 65ff., 91ff., 999ff., 977ff.,  987ff., 1032ff., 1080ff., and Ch. 2 above on the implications further.

*2 See The Kingdom of Heaven Appendix, and SMR pp. 1042-188H, and Ch. 10, iniitally.