Thursday, February 26, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Would you say that love is not love if it expects something in return?


Susan Barnes said...

I think your questions are getting harder every week, Greg!

I would incline to say that love doesn't expect anything in return which leads to another question. Since God loves us perfectly does that mean He doesn't expect anything in return?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...


from the end of Matthew 5 I would take, that both (love without expecting love, and love expecting love) actually IS love. But these two differ from each other. The one we should achieve is the perfect love of the father. And this love even applies to enemies!

Why do we need to know, what love is? To know whether others love us back or not? Surely not - this is contrary to the above conclusion. Other suggestion? It can only be important for my behaviour. So, do I love others without seeking love?


Greg said...

Thanks for your insights. I think I share your inclination. In answer to your question, I would suggest that God does not expect anything in return if his perfect love is considered a gift.

Greg said...

Thanks Lukas and welcome to Living Spiritulaity and the ZigZag cafe. Interesting thought and questions.

I think we need to know what love is on two accounts: 1) to be able to discern when we are not loving God and the other 2) to have a better balance between trust and suspicion when someone says, "I love you."

If love operates in the economy of gift then loving others is a love that is not seeking love. Yet can love be designated "gift" without some recourse to justice - operative in an economy of exchange?

Joshua said...

If someone does not love me back, then 99% of the time over the long term I will not love them back eventually. Does that indicate I don't love? *shrug*

I can see how people who love the idea of love without return come to it, for what return do they get for their ideas?

My love is tainted, and my motives are impure. It's great to be human.

Greg said...

Thanks for the comment and questions. Not so sure that we can't love someone who doesn't love us back. Unless I get loved back in order to continue to love may not be love.

Sometimes your motives may be more pure than others and it's still great to be human.

John said...

Good question. I typed out an answer and realized it was self defeating. I'll think about this one more.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg
Hi guys

Expecting something back is normal and good, when you love somebody, but as Christians we are called to love although we dont get anything back. So we should not be confused when we realize that we want something back and we should not accuse ourselves for selfish love. But our love should also not be dependent on others' love and gifts.

I once read a book. It was aactually a childrens book, called "Treasures of the snow" by Patricia St. John (bautiful book, movie is also geourgeous - it is set in the Western Alpes in a French speaking part - I guess we can all imagine, how the setting looks like). In the book someone says: "If you use your time to love those who dont love you back, you may often be disappointed. But if you continue you will find satisfaction/pleasure in loving others, regardless of whether you are loved or not."


Greg said...

Thanks John. True, it's not easy to formulate a response.

Greg said...

Thanks. Good thoughts. I agree. Being a Christian should make a difference in our perspective on love.

Sounds like a lovely and wise book.

harry coe maynard said...


I've always heard this old ABBA song as not a pretty girl winking at me, but God's Song to all of us.

See you,


harry coe maynard said...


Forgot to post it.

John said...

Greg, I guess I'm going to have to go back to the Biblical text and see that "love is not self seeking", as 1 Corinthians 13 tells us. Therefore, since expecting something in return is self-seeking, it ceases to be love when we expect something in return. I'd dare say, when we expect something in return, it's manipulation.

Though, we must be careful to point out that a distinction exists between "expecting" and "hoping for." Because I can give love and hope that it will be reciprocated, but I cannot expect it and make the return of love conditional.


Greg said...

Thanks Harry coe.

Greg said...

Thanks. I can tell you've thought about this one a fair bit. Good!

I've always found the passage in Lk 6:27ff interesting because side by side we have: love your enemies and do unto others as you would have them do to you.

I like your hoping for in contrast to expecting or demanding.

John said...

Greg, the word for "love" in Luke 6:27 is agapao (ag-ap-ah'o), which means "to love (in a social or moral sense)."

"Love" in 13:4-5 is agape (ag-ah'-pay), which means "love, i.e. affection or benevolence."

Even so, even with the two different types of love I just mentioned, there is no expectation of return, because how can you expect (as opposed to hope for) love to be returned from your enemies? It may happen, but we are to love them regardless.

It's interesting that the same "love" in Luke 6:27 is used in John 3:16 as well. No expectation of returned love when Christ was sent to Earth, but it was done anyways. That's a beautiful picture of how we are to love.

Greg said...

Thanks John. There is an interesting discussion and a fair amount of misundertanding around on agape. What else is new, right? Some interpretations of love in the Bible, as well as in our contemporary context, can get pretty convoluted.

I'm about to begin working on some lectures on love si I hope to be more involved in the discussion and to be able to bring some refigurations of the interpretative misunderstandings.

harry coe maynard said...

Hello ya'll,

What's the difference between being Loved God or an Elephant?

One could crush you the other won't.

Greg said...

Thanks Harry coe.

harry coe maynard said...

Hey Greg,

How bout a quick critic of this one