“Pure Love,” in The Virtue of Faith and Other Essays

Adams, Robert Merrihew

Oxford University, 1987

pp. 174-192

Ideal love isn't just benevolence. I wish you well. It's desire for personal relationship involving union of some kind. The lover doesn't just want the beloved to be served; the lover wants to be the one doing the serving. He wants closeness. And a mother feels terrible if she fails to protect her child from being scalded by a coffeemaker whose cord she didn't tuck away out of reach; she feels terrible that she's the one who failed. Yes, God wants our love and praise, but not just because it would be good for us. God wants it because God wants us; God actually wants a kind of union with creatures like us. God is like a jealous husband. God is like a jealous parent. Christ gave himself up for the church because it was his bride. God wants union, fellowship.