You Don’t Know What Love Is Unless You Have Kids. Really?

Anne Witton 1 year ago
Blog 2 mins
‘You know there is no love as fierce as that of a mother or father for a child. The love of a man for a woman, of a soldier for their country, of a sports fan for their team – none of it comes even close to the love of a parent for their kids.’1

This sentiment crops up all the time - in the secular world,2 in Christian books, from good friends who have become mothers or fathers for the first time. But I don’t think it’s true, and it’s certainly very painful for those of us who don’t have children, which includes many same-sex attracted people like me.

Of course, it’s natural to love your own children. The mother’s body even emits chemicals like oxytocin to help the bonding process. The imagery of a parent and child is used in the Bible to give us a picture of what God’s love is like for us, his children (see Luke 15:11-32; Matthew 7:9-11, and Isaiah 49:15 for just a few examples). Parent-child love is a strong human bond that gives us an insight into the loving heart of the Lord. But it’s not the only picture or demonstration of God’s love, and it isn’t even the most powerful one.

Jesus wasn’t a dad. Are we saying that he missed out on the most profound experience of human love? Or that he doesn’t love as deeply as those who are parents? Not at all! Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection showed us the highest form of love that there is.

To walk in Jesus’ footsteps and to experience and exhibit his love is to do what he did: to love the unloveable, to make sacrifices for those who don’t deserve it and will never be grateful, to love those who never give anything back, to pray daily for someone who hates us, to love someone enough to let them go. Obviously parenting involves some of these expressions of love, but they are not confined to parent-child relationships.

The ultimate example of true love is Jesus on the cross. He laid down his life for those who hated, mocked and persecuted him. That is what love is and we can all experience it. As it says in 1 John 3:16:

‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’

Further reading

Andrew Bunt, Jesus on Friendship

Anne Witton, Childlessness

  1. John Mark Comer, God Has a Name (Zondervan, 2017), p.130. I’m not picking on Comer here. It’s a great book. It’s just what I happened to be reading when I came across this latest instance of the idolatry of parent-love.
  2. Survey Results For "You Never Know True Love Until You Have a Child"’, World Childless Week. Accessed 12 December 2022.