Back in the day it sometimes happened that women who were in abusive marriages were forced to stay with their husbands because they had no means of supporting themselves and social stigma would have made life unbearable for them if they had left; leaving their own lives, and sometimes the lives of their children in danger. They were entirely reliant on their spouse. They didn’t remain in the marriage because they wanted to, or because they were freely choosing it; but because they were stuck, fearful and had no other viable options. Such a situation is not the life-giving vocation that God intended marriage to be, and is not the loving relationship that God wants for anyone.
God is entirely self-sufficient. God is perfect, unchanging, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent all by Himself. God doesn’t need you to be happy. God doesn’t need you to follow His laws to be fulfilled. God doesn’t exist because of you, and heaven will not fall apart if you don’t eventually wind up there. God will be perfectly content whether you ever offer Him anything or not.
God neither gains nor loses anything by being nice to us. God neither gains nor loses anything by us accepting or rejecting Him. That puts God in a very interesting position. It puts God in the position of true generosity, perfect freedom in gift giving and removes any motive from initiating a relationship with us except the motive of love. God created us entirely out of this self-giving love, but doesn’t need us to reciprocate to be happy. God desires that we reciprocate for our own benefit; because love desires the good of the other and always wants to share the joy that it possesses. But God will not cease to have joy simply because someone rejects it.
There is much evidence of people rejecting God and still having air in their lungs, a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the love of family and friends in their lives. We see that God doesn’t require us to follow His laws for our physical survival. This puts us in a very interesting position. It puts us in the position of receiving everything that God gives us, particularly His love, freely—as pure gift. While God is the Source of the air in our lungs, the roofs over our heads, the food on our tables and the love of people in our lives, He doesn’t hold those things over our heads to force us into relationship with Him. He offers freely, and invites us to freely accept it all. It is actual unconditional love.
There is something very comforting in knowing that you can’t add or detract anything from God. You can screw up royally and know that God will take you back without hesitation. You can cooperate with God’s will and bring the joy of God to others and feel it yourself—but it doesn’t all rest on you.
Throughout the Scriptures, the image of marriage is used to describe our relationship with God. It’s meant to express the intimate, reciprocal, self-giving love that a marriage should be. Just like in our human marriages, our relationship with God is not meant to be a hostage situation. God set it up that we could freely accept or freely reject the love that He offers us. But, we’re never bullied into it. In the Book of the Prophet Hosea, Gomer, is unfaithful to Hosea. It’s meant to be a metaphor for our relationship with God—we are constantly unfaithful like Gomer. But, God doesn’t tell Hosea to tighten the reigns on her—He tells him to woo her back with soft words. And that’s how God does it with us, too.
God welcomes us back and invites us to partake in His goodness and generosity. God gave the world His Presence in the Incarnation—freely giving Himself to us to do whatever we would with Him. When we killed Him, He forgave us—not for any gain on His part, but because of His perfect love for us. We can let Him mold our hearts to be more like His so that our actions can become more perfectly free and generous. God doesn’t need you to be happy. But, God wants you because He is Love.