There is a close connection between love and knowledge. To be loved and yet not to be known is terrifying. One would always doubt if the lover of one would continue in that love if he or she were to know all that there was to know of one. If he or she would just know that side of me, that person would cease loving me. Their love for me is contingent upon their ignorance of who I truly am, and thus their love of me is dependent upon them having an idealized version of who I am. This is why vulnerability is so difficult to attain. To be vulnerable means to risk having our loved ones rethink their love for us. To be known and yet, therefore, not loved, is paralyzing. In this situation, those doubts in one’s mind that one is truly unlovable receives a confirmation from the outside.
These cases anticipate the longing of the human heart. To be loved and to be known. To have nothing to hide, and to know that this lover knows the depths of my faults, and yet loves me the same. It is a love not contingent upon having a false version of myself in the lover’s mind, but rather a love that sees us in all of our shortcomings, yet remains unwavering. This is the kind of love that sets us free to be truly who we are; a love that gives us the security we need to pursue changes in our lives motivated not out of fear but out of a relationship. It is a love, of course, that ultimately only God can provide.
Within the context of receiving unconditional love, the beloved can freely reveal more of herself to the lover. There is no more need to lie because there is nothing about me that I need to cover up in fear that my lover would cease loving me. There is also no more need to prove oneself because unconditional love does not increase or decrease on the basis of my performance. Love and knowledge, thus it seems, mutually reinforce one another. The more one believes one is loved, the more one feels that one could be further known. The more one knows the beloved the more one is inclined to perform further expressions of love.
These descriptions of love and knowledge, I think, accrue to human-to-human relationships as they do to the relationship between the creature and the Creator. Love of God and knowledge of God, as Augustine knew well, are closely intertwined. To truly know God, one must be open, willing, and able to receive God’s self-revelation. To truly love God, the true God, one must have knowledge of the same. Not only so, one can only know God if God has first set his love for one, choosing thus to reveal himself to one in a personal way. And only if we know that God is truly for us, truly loving toward us, may we then be free to confess our sins, to commune with Him in knowledge, and for us to be further ready to know God in a deeper manner. There is no such thing as knowledge of God apart from God’s decision to reveal or apart from our disposition to receive in love – there is no natural religion, no pre-theological natural theology.
Love, therefore, is a precondition for knowledge. Or, at least, the kind of knowledge that is worth having, the relational kind, and the kind of knowledge that informs our knowledge of everything else.