A popular response to the problem of evil is that God gave us free-will (libertarian free-will to be specific), which makes it possible for us to choose both good and evil. This response tries to place the blame on man for evil, which takes the blame off of God. But why would God give us this kind of freedom since it opens of the possibility for evil and suffering? It’s because genuine love can only exist if libertarian free-will exists. In order for love to be truly love, it needs to be resistable. If we love people simply because we are determined to, like machines being programed, then it’s difficult to call that love because we are being made to love those people, not choosing to love them. It makes us more like machines than people. This is why love must be resistable. Humans chose to resist loving God and each other, so that’s why evil exists.
But must love be resistable in order to be true love? I wonder about this myself, because it doesn’t seem to be fully the case. For example, I love my friends Gregg and DJ. I don’t find in myself the ability to say “no” to that love. I can’t just choose not to love them, I just find that feeling within me. Is my love less genuine because of this? It doesn’t seem so. As Thaddeus Williams says,
If [a father’s] internal telos were so strong that he simply could not bring himself to say “no” to loving his daughter, then is his love rendered null and void? We cannot easily dismiss such love as inauthentic. (Love, Freedom, and Evil: Does Authentic Love Require Free Will?, p. 38)
Now, someone might say that my love, as with any human, is conditional, so my feelings can be changed in some way. Perhaps, but what about God? God the Father surely loves the Son. Can the Father resist His love for His Son? Can He say “no” to it? I don’t think He can. Is the Father’s love less genuine because of this? Not at all, and I don’t think any Christian would say so. In fact, the Father’s love seems more genuine and powerful because His love is so genuine and pure that He cannot say “no” to it. Again, from Dr. Williams’ book, a poem from the perspective of Christ,
I’ve always had a loving Father whom I call my own,
A Father who cannot fail to love Me.
And when all the love-hungry guys
With all their love-hungry eyes
Seek love in characters savvy to lies,
His Goodness flows inevitably toward Me as love unabating.
He’s been the truest Lover since before the world.
I’d rather Him be a loving Father always my own
Than a libertarian agent free to disown. (p. 41)
Perhaps it’s a bit corny, but it illustrates the point I was making.
So what do you think?