Think about God; He is pure, unfailing love. But He is also pure, unfailing goodness, justice, truth, mercy. There is no tension in God in this. He never has to choose between love and goodness. He is always only love; always only good; always only just. His love is unfailing, nothing can stop God from being love and loving, but His love it is not separate from His goodness, so His love is not unconditional.
To tell most Canadians that you should not love unconditionally would be to shock them. They would probably think you are clueless or wicked or both. The same is true of Canadian Christians. If I say that God does not love you unconditionally, most Christians will think I do not know what Christianity teaches at a deep and fundamental level. So, just to be clear, the Bible does not teach that God loves unconditionally or that you should love unconditionally and that is good news, a sign that the Bible is wise.
Love and Moral Judgments
I do not know who first coined the term “unconditional love,” but I do know who popularized it—Carl Rogers (1902-1987). He was a therapist/counsellor and his approach is often referred to as Rogerian counselling/therapy. It was immensely influential. Rogers developed the idea of unconditional love to separate “love” from “moral judgements”. In other words, to truly love, you need to separate love from “the good,” our beliefs about what is right and wrong. We need to show unconditional love, with no moral judgement. To make any moral judgment means you are not loving unconditionally.
Thinking and living are not completely imprisoned and determined by language, but the words we use and the ideas we believe are very important as to how we think and live. One of the reasons modern Christians, including evangelicals, have problems thinking through many contemporary moral issues is because we believe that God loves the person unconditionally, so we should love them unconditionally.