The idea that God's love is reckless was popularized by the worship song "Reckless Love" written by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury and Ran Jackson.
It was an incredibly popular song and has been listened to millions of times across the globe. It's sparked controversy regarding the use of the word 'reckless' to describe God's love.
Many people are quick to defend the use of the word with the following argument:
The word is not to describe God himself, but to describe the love he shows us. From a human perspective, the way God gives himself up for us appears reckless.
Cory Asbury himself also came out with a defence for the use of the word 'reckless':
When I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so.
— Cory Asbury
Firstly, to understand the controversy and why there is an issue with the word, we must look at the definition of 'reckless'.
reckless: utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless.
By this definition, to act in a reckless manner is to act without caution or care, to show no concern for the consequences or outcome of one's action.
Does God fit this description? Unequivocally not. God is omniscient, all-knowing and exercises perfect judgement at all times. By this understanding of God, it is impossible for Him to act recklessly.
God, not once throughout all of scripture has ever acted without caution or concern for His actions. God exercises flawless judgment in every circumstance.
Scripture itself confirms this in Psalms.
even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
— Psalm 139:4
Everything we have done and will ever do has always been known by God, before we were even born.
Secondly, the defence that "God himself isn't 'reckless' but his love nonetheless is" is simply nonsensical. This is the crux of Cory's defence of 'reckless', but it doesn't make sense grammatically. If my actions are reckless, I am by definition, a reckless person. By the same token, if God's love is reckless, than God is defined as reckless.
Thirdly, the defence by declaring that God's love appears reckless by human standards is the most plausible interpretation of the song. By this interpretation, we are assuming that 'reckless' is used as a hyperbole. But even if we assume that the word 'reckless' is used as a hyperbole, it still wouldn't make much sense.
The hyperbolic description of recklessness connotes not the methodical, steady and unwavering love of God, but rather the unstable, unreasonable and impulsive attitude commonly seen in a young adult.
God's love is not impulsive. Paul explains this to us in Ephesians.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
— Ephesians 1:3-10
Why does any of this matter at all?
Words have incredible weight and power. Many Christian's learn their theology through worship! This theology is passed onto their friends, their neighbours and even the non-believers they meet in their day to day. This is why it is imperative that Pastors and Worship Leaders select strong Biblical worship songs. If churches were singing heretical songs, the messages of these songs would be passed on among fellow believers and non-believers becoming a stumbling block for any would-be believers as they would not be correctly understand who God really is.
I considered not writing this article based on the verse out of 2 Timothy:
avoid irreverent babble for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness.
— 2 Timothy 2:16
However, this is most certainly not irreverent babble. It is a direct defence and proclamation of the true nature of God.
Worship that divides people affects non-believers and believers alike. Especially when we call God's love reckless. If I were a non-believer and was told that God's love was reckless, I would immediately assume that God is reckless, and would most certainly not trust Him with my eternity.
Ultimately, we as Christians should avoid songs that divide people or force people to have to change the meaning of a song in order to be faithful. Christians should more closely assess worship songs that come out of fundamentally heretical churches to ensure their scriptural validity.
God's love is not reckless
God's love is the very antithesis of recklessness. God's love can not be seen as reckless in any way because doing so frames God's love as impulsive and inconsiderate versus the steady, all knowing, perfect love that is evident in scripture and is poured out for us everyday.