In order to discuss this idea, my beliefs about God must first be clarified as best I can in just a blog post. I am Catholic, and I define God as “the Unactualized Actualizer” as put forth by Aquinas and Aristotle. This defines God as that which created the universe, but was not created and always existed.
Secondly, I will define love as it is used in this case. I am not speaking of romantic love or emotional love, rather one that is deeper and mirrors the love of a parent toward child, artist toward art, creator toward creation. This love is a giving of oneself so another may prosper and holding in your heart the hope that the creation may become the best version of itself as possible. Simply put, love is hoping the best for another and playing your role in making that happen, but also allowing that which you love to do so for itself.
Love Comes From The Divine
So why does love come from the divine? Well, just as parents bring a child into the world out of the desire of something to love, the Creator of the universe was prompted to move from that same desire to love. The Creator and source of all things became that out of love and all manifestations of that love-whether the artist, parent, or creator- reflect the divine source.
This is because the Creator of the universe gave it a logic and order-which we call Natural Law. All of the workings of the universe come from the order that was created by God, so to take part in creating something for the purpose of loving it is to act in the same way God does. That giving of oneself is sacrificial, yet joyous and purposeful. God created us not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself. Thus, when we do the same we find ourselves at a tangency to the divine.
Image and Likeness
Obviously, we don’t know what God looks like, so how are we made in His image and likeness? Common thought on this point is that our ability to reason, love, and any other function of the human mind that separates us from other animals is the image and likeness. It is our transcendent characteristics that make us unlike other animals, and especially our ability to freely choose our actions and not act upon mere instinct.
This reality is an incredible notion as it means that we have the ability to create like God, choose freely like God, and love like God. This means that we have the capability to create things for us to love and to choose love as an end in and of itself, rather than a means to an end. Other animals simply create bonds as a survival instinct, which makes that a means to the end of survival. Only a being with logic, reason, and empathy can truly create bonds for the sake of having them, which is the definition of Friendship that Aristotle poses, and is the driving force behind marriage and parenthood.
Love comes from a divine source because mere existence that is a result of a creator would only be done out of love- just as a parent would only bring a child into this world out of love. Because it is divine in nature, when we love others we touch on something divine in ourselves, a potential within us that is derived from a divine source. We have capabilities that lift us above other animals and separates our desires from them and point toward something more, which indicates that we share some aspects with the divine. It is through these characteristics that we discover and fulfill our purpose, which is to create things to love and appreciate for the purpose of loving and appreciating them. We are to treat our children, spouse, art, music, creations, and friends as an end in and of itself, rather than a means. Then we will know what it is like to love as God does. Then we find peace of mind and fulfillment at the tangent of the divine.
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