I suppose that all natural human loves can be images of and partakers in Divine Love. It’s only just come to me how a parents’ love really does so.
In a happy marriage there is no need of a child to bring any completion or fulfil any lack within the relationship. The the man and the woman – diverse in sex, one in nature – have found unity and completion in one another, and they make a little world of themselves. Yet that same relationship will ordinarily flow out into living offspring. In fact, when parents bring a child into the world voluntarily and out of no obligation or sense of need, but just out of the desire to share their love with their own image, to allow their love to expand, as it were, and flow out, not only to an existing object, but to an object that exists because of the love that flows out to it – that is the when the phrase “Our Father, You Who are in Heaven” has the most meaning to us.
In case someone does not understand the comparison, I am talking about the truth that God is Himself a Realm and World that needs no other world to contain or give context. In diversity of Persons, Unity of Nature, His existance is named Love. Yet he pours out love even beyond himself, as impossible as this seems, which results in the existance of creatures and the bestowing of all good upon them. This is done freely and that is the beauty of it and the Honor of the Creator.
I believe that parental love is an image of this Divine Creative Love, and I think that the more freely parents bestow this ‘creating love’ upon the child whose existence they desire, the clearer the image becomes.
On the other hand, when the bearing of children becomes an obligation, as in so many corners of Christianity, the image is forbidden this, its most essential aspect.
Obligation is what ruins so many spiritual joys and godly virtues. I’m sure that is why, no matter how much the Jewish Christians of the Apostle Paul’s day were in need, no matter how good it was for the Gentiles to contribute largely to that need, he forbore to give them any command concerning the amount (or percentage) that each was to give. For “God loves a cheerful giver” and no one was to give “under compulsion.”
In fact, although the Kingdom of God is a place of order, of God’s rule, of Law of a sort, that Law is Love, and Love is free and is freedom. The whole tenor of true Christianity is one of goodness that is not under compulsion. Whenever I percieve the urge to codify and legislate what ought to be free and the springing up of grace, I feel that I am looking at something unhealthy and not fully Christian.