Does God have no personal interest in us?
Or, on the other hand, is He selfish?
Most spiritual individuals would find both options off-putting.
Yet one of them must be true.
Doesn’t make sense? That’s because most modern-day individuals follow a spirituality of convenience, not of consistency. The modern church is infested with shifting, semi-logical doctrines – rhetoric that is superficially comforting, but all too often based on unexplored foundations with alarming ramifications.
Many contemporary Christians, for example, would be startled if they realized that the underlying premise of their morality embraces a God who allegedly loves them, yet paradoxically, takes no interest in them. It is this revelation that perfectly exposes that ideal for what it is: altruism.
After all, if God took a personal interest in a human, it would mean God was acting, to at least some degree, in His own interest. In other words, if He is benefited by loving us, He really wouldn’t be doing anything except being “selfish.”
Of course that’s completely unacceptable to proponents of altruism! To them, God is not the ultimate example of rational self-interest; to the contrary, He is the ultimate example of a disinterested sacrifice. For it wouldn’t really be a sacrifice if He stood to benefit by it, now would it?
In order for it to be a “pure” sacrifice, a “true” love, God must not only be hurt by loving us, but also take no interest in us (for interest necessitates selfishness); thus, His love is the pure embodiment of altruism – what theologians call “supreme disinterested love.” Proof that modern-day theology is based on this premise is unlikely to keep reasonable Christians who read this from immediately dismissing it for what it is: nonsensical.
But is this altruism not the basis of our morality? We are told to live for others, to their benefit and our detriment. Our holiness, we are told, is based on our level of discomfort. After all, it’s not really a sacrifice if we enjoy it, is it? It’s not really love if it benefits us personally, is it? At the end of the day, this doctrine is a simple message: It’s not about you. It’s about them.
Are martyrs not admired as the prime example of this morality at work? The man or woman who refuses to reject Christ at gunpoint is killed, and subsequently praised by all Christians. Why? After all, isn’t an action that is forced a result of the forcer, not the victim? We do not consider forced acts to be reflective of the victim’s ideals in any other scenario.
Still doesn’t make sense? Let’s flip it. If a man was held at gunpoint and asked to accept Christ “into his heart,” would we consider his enthusiastic conversion an accurate reflection of his heart? …Of course not. Why, then, is this same logic not applied the other way around?
The answer is simple: the morality of altruism.
By this morality, it is good – even exemplary – for the victim to needlessly suffer or be killed. It is an admirable sacrifice! It is an act which stands to benefit no one, except, perhaps, other proponents of the same morality, so that they may point and say, “Now that’s how it’s done!” It is the perfect example of supreme disinterested love – the martyr throws his or her life away all just to make supporters of a bizarre morality “feel better.” Sacrifice, for sacrifice’s sake.
Okay, we might begin to reluctantly admit. That whole disinterested stuff seems silly; what about the ramifications of the alternative?
If God does indeed take personal interest in us, just as we take personal interest in our own creations (especially our children), it means that God loving us, and us loving our children, is not an altruistic love at all. In fact, it’s just as much (if not more) about the lover as it is the loved. Jesus said himself, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” His implication is clear: If you don’t love yourself, you simply cannot love others! As Ayn Rand once put it, “In order to say ‘I love you,’ you must first say, ‘I.’”
Some may be quick to point out that there is a difference between “rational self-interest” and “silly selfishness,” or greed, and it is certainly a valid distinction. When the child takes the last piece of candy, he is not thinking about his own self-interest, he is only pursuing immediate gratification. In fact, not only will he not benefit from eating the candy, it will probably negatively impact his health. Through this distinction, it could be said that he was not acting in a strictly selfish manner, but rather, in a greedy manner.
Think about it: Is God’s love for us really disinterested? Or is it actually selfish?
There’s no other way to put it: If “selfish” means only to act in one’s own self-interest, then not only is God selfish, but we are called to be selfish too!