Michelle Obama and Unconditional Love


I stayed up last night to watch the First Lady’s speech. It intrigues me to study how people think, especially people I disagree with. Sometimes it is possible to follow a logical path and clarify where disagreement begins and ends, sometimes I just want to know how bad it is, which is usually when I need my husband to put his hand over my mouth before I…never mind.

So, I sat there propped up in the bed with a glass of Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Free Range Red and a sleeping toddler next to me to see what the First Lady of the Free World had to say as I waited for my husband to finish up his end-of-the day rituals. Here’s one particular smashery of logic and language that just gets my goat every single time.

She used that lovely phrase unconditional love. I — a Catholic mother who scrubs, chases, sweats, lectures, and pleads for mercy when the truckload of kids and piles of laundry finally break me each day — take that term seriously. In the abortion debate no one who thinks abortion is acceptable is allowed to use that term. In this day and age of political correctness, is it too much to insist on verbal correctness too? Words mean things.

But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.

You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.

Her family gave her unconditional love? Really? It’s true, children are incapable of earning the love of their parents, and love should be given to them without limit, without being subject to any conditions or stipulations. It should be absolute and complete. That term demands no compromise. To place a condition on being loved, is to destroy the notion of unconditional love altogether. It is impossible for a parent to say, “I love my children unconditionally, but only if I want them.” Being wanted is a condition.

If she’s so grateful for the unflinching sacrifice and the chance to go places she never imagined that her family gave her, why then, does she think that mothers in America today shouldn’t do the same for their children? That is exactly what abortion advocate after dissonant abortion advocate stands for – the denial of unflinching sacrifice and unconditional love. Dismembering the tiniest and most defenseless of the children you deem unworthy of life is not an act of love.

So the First Lady and her husband may be kindred spirits with the same values, but they have left behind the upbringing they claimed influenced their early lives together (which is contested). It’s no secret that both stand for abortion, but they have both failed to bring those virtues that they credit for their success into the present administration.

By the time she finished telling about their personal struggles, people were in tears. It was with no small chill down my tired spine that I heard the biggest eruption of applause of the whole speech.

And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care … that’s what my husband stands for.

I watched to the end, through language about how this country was built by sacrifice, how the country is so “special,” how she wants to give our children a “foundation for their dreams,” and “that sense of limitless possibility,” and “that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it.” I listened right up to the, “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.”

How can you say that when you don’t believe all children even have a right to be born? When you pick and chose which victims matter and which ones don’t?

I clicked off the television, scooped up my baby boy in the quiet of the night with my husband finally exhausted and sleeping next to me, all our children sprawled over each other in their beds (or somewhere in the house), and I said a prayer that America would not be punished with another four years of this powermongering nonsense. If we are, then I take some comfort at least in knowing that my children will know what that term means, and if they dare abuse it as adults to try to justify something evil, they’ll have a mother with her finger so pointed in their face, their eyes’ll cross.

Because I love them, unconditionally.

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Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is a Chief Editor at Ignitum Today and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about all that she is learning at her blog, Accepting Abundance.


  1. More amazing to me hearing her as an expat US citizen now in Europe was how in God’s name could she claim that Barach was raised with un-conditional love.” That has been part of the search for those who try to probe his human anchors and personality traits. Not to mention the adult Obama and his formation in the extreme social agenda he now espouses.

  2. Her story of her upbringing is not unique, many grew up the same way. My dad was military and military not the greatest back in the 50’s and 60’s, but because of the military I did get to see a foreign country before I hit my teens. We lived comfortable in military standares when we were in military housing living on base. We had nice cloths but not designer. I can look back and see the unconditional love my parents showered on my and my siblings and it did not end when we left the nest to venture out on our own. It showed their almost regular phone calls – if the phone rang at 6pm on Thursday it was my mom – and they were always there if you just needed to talk about something. My parents passed on valuable lessons to each of us kids most of which we learned from their own actions.
    Like you Stacy, I cannot figure out how they can express unconditional love when they are such strong starch supporters of abortion. I could only watch a little of the speech last night and had to turn it off, actually switched to the SC-FI channel.

  3. I agree that Michelle Obama should not use the term “unconditional love”. I cannot think of truly unconditional love. All love that I know of is conditional. Maybe God can love unconditionally. The Bible suggests that he chooses not to do so. Jacob was loved by God. Esau was hated by God. So it seems that the identity of the person is a condition for God’s love.

    You love your children. You probably do not love all children in the world. Your love is probably conditional upon identity. Existence is also probably a condition. If your children did not exist, it is unlikely that you could love them.

    It seems that unconditional love is impossible for anyone except maybe God, and that unconditional love is not fitting for the Christian, Jewish and Muslim God.

    It may be that conservative Christians have a more minimally conditional love than liberal Christians.

  4. You’re trying to argue that people can’t love their children unconditionally, because the loving someone is conditional on them being that someone?

    That doesn’t work. It doesn’t even get to the level of equivocation, it’s just silly, like the argument about “if God can do anything, can he make a rock He can’t lift.”

  5. Existence and identity are conditions for that love. Therefore the love is not unconditional.

    If you do not agree, then how do you define “condition” and “unconditional”?

  6. Nope, not jumping into your farce.

    Going to guess you didn’t have anything to say in response to the points offered…although it’s a little funny that you chose an outstanding paragraph to argument-form of.

    Her family gave her unconditional love? Really? It’s true, children are incapable of earning the love of their parents, and love should be given to them without limit, without being subject to any conditions or stipulations. It should be absolute and complete. That term demands no compromise. To place a condition on being loved, is to destroy the notion of unconditional love altogether. It is impossible for a parent to say, “I love my children unconditionally, but only if I want them.” Being wanted is a condition.

    Trying to warp that to work for “I love you, but only if you’re you, so that’s not unconditional” is just silly.

  7. Stacy – great.
    I wonder too about unconditional love that these two loving parents will certainly want their two daughters to not only receive from them, Michelle and Barak, but also pass on to the future grandchildren.. but remember that this first father of this first family said he wouldn’t want them to have to be burdened with any little bundle of love if they don’t want to.
    they have been called first family — ok. but something in me churned a bit last night when she identified herself as “mother in chief” in that speech… first family maybe, but , “mother in chief ” can apply to her relationship to us – her subjects, or objects.

    Also – “Ive noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born.” Reagan

  8. “on them being that someone?” Thank you Foxfire for picking that inconsistency up.

    “Existence and identity are conditions for that love.” Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights. Human rights exist at the will of our Creator in perfection and unalienable. The word “unalienable” means that it does not matter who I am, if I exist, I have human rights from God, our Creator. Our identity comes from God and my not be subjectively altered by any human being, not for any purpose. Man, with his very small brain, fallibility, does not tell God how to create man.

  9. Ace,
        ” Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated. I made his mountains a waste,
    his heritage a desert for jackals.”. Malachi 1:3.
         That actually refers to two different time periods.  Esau the person was tricked out of his birthright through his own carnality but overcomes his fratricidal hatred of Jacob and becomes happy and his territory flourishes.  Much later in Obadiah’s time (after 583B.C.), God punishes that community ( Mt. Esau) for not protecting Israel and actually stealing from her as she was conquered by the Babylonians…and therein “Esau” is used of those later descendants whose dwellings are then destroyed.  Esau the person was much earlier and he and Jacob reconciled and buried their father together.
          We must not leave out the parts of the Bible whereby God willed Esau’s and everyone’s salvation which willing good to another is love ( Ezekiel 33:11/ I Tim.2:3-4/ 2 Peter 3:9).  
          God even continues to love and will good to the damned to the extent possible: ” Even in the damnation of the reprobate mercy is seen, which, though it does not totally remit, yet somewhat alleviates, in punishing short of what is deserved.”  St. Thomas Aquinas/ Summa Theologica/ 1st Part/ question 21/ art.4/ reply to objection one.  That being the case, God’s love is unconditional even after damnation but His rewards to humans are conditional on their choices.
        Actually “hate” is an anthropopathism in the Bible when used of God. Aquinas showed how “hate” and “wrath” while used of God in the Bible…do not really exist in a Being who is unchanging: “I am the Lord and I change not”…”there is in Him no change nor shadow of alteration”.  Hate and wrath are poetic metaphors of his will according to Aquinas.  In willing a just universe, God indirectly wills punishment and the results of that are painful to some humans who choose badly.
        To switch from love to hate is change; and God is above that.  Since John says, “God is love”, God does not have love as extrinsic to Himself.  He is Love even in the case of Judas.  Who do you think gave Judas the grace to be sorry and throw back the money into the temple?  But God in that love leaves us free to choose Him in our very next action.  Judas, after receiving love from God who helped him be sorry, then was free in his very next act wherein God was still helping him…free to kill himself despite God’s love and help against suicide.  

  10. Disappointing, Foxfier. I am interested in learning more, but if you are unwilling to entertain new ideas and really engage in a challenging discussion, then I don’t see how I can learn much from you.

    I’ll seek knowledge from others.

  11. bill bannon,

    That is a very helpful answer. It raises more questions, but none that are relevant to this particular post.

    I will change my initial statement. It seems as though the Christian God can, and possibly does, love unconditionally, but it seems as though it is impossible for humans to love unconditionally.

    At least, as we currently are.

  12. Ace-
    My heart weeps that you find my unwillingness to dance to your trolling “disappointing.”

    Incidentally, failing to agree with your novel interpretation of a well known phrase isn’t a sign of being unwilling to entertain new ideas or engage in a challenging discussion, it’s a sign of recognizing someone that gets entertainment from messing with people.

  13. Foxfier, my enjoyment is in learning.

    What do you mean by the words “condition” and “unconditional”? Maybe, your meaning doesn’t include things like existence and identity as conditions.

    What is your meaning? I don’t understand. I’d like to understand.

  14. Sure, Paul. I’d agree. But please afford me the charity of believing my misunderstanding to be sincere. If I am misunderstanding something, then it is out of ignorance and confusion, and not out of any desire to play games.

    Please educate me. It seems as though the idea of unconditional love is impossible for us mere mortals. There are these conditions like existence and identity. Or maybe these are not the conditions meant by “unconditional love”?

    Maybe the question is difficult, and its difficulty creates discomfort? Or maybe the answer is obvious, and that is why it seems as though I am playing games? If it is obvious, please tell me what the answer is.

    I’d like to learn.

  15. I’d like to know what definition of “unconditional love” encompasses condoning the killing of your own grandchildren so that your daughters are not “punished with a baby”.

  16. A way to look at ‘unconditional love’ is without any restrictions, one does not harp on wrong, they don’t hold grudges,it is everlasting – Mary had a unconditional love for her Son, Jesus, even after his death on the cross. Unconditional love can be seen as a willing to die for another – a mother/father would step in front of a car to keep their child from being injured but we would be less likely to do the same for a stranger unless it is a required duty – secret service agent protecting a political figure- even he one dislikes the person they are protecting.
    Conditional love ‘is earned’ – I love that song – but could not love it until I heard it but in a week or two I might ‘love another song’. One can love a new born baby even if it is not theirs but that love will not be unconditional to the baby as you will not be the one raising it.

  17. Richard,

    You suggest that unconditional love involves both a kind of love (love without restrictions, does not hold grudges, etc.) and a degree (love to the extent of giving up your life for your beloved). Also, you seem to suggest that unconditional love is a choice. I can choose to love some people unconditionally, but not others. This part seems reasonable.

    It seems that unconditional love is independent of conditions outside your choice to love. It would therefore be possible to love one child because you want to keep him or her, and love that child independently of anything that child or anyone else does. It would be possible for you to choose not to love a child.

    If this is the understanding, why can’t someone who is pro-choice use the term “unconditional love”?

  18. Ace, perhaps you interpret “unconditional” to mean “placing no expectations or demands upon the loved one and letting them do whatever they please even if it is harmful to themselves or others.” They aren’t the same. You can unconditionally love your children and still discipline them when they do wrong. You can unconditionally love your spouse but refuse to tolerate some of their bad habits or behaviors in your home. You can unconditionally love a wayward sibling but refuse to enable habits like drug addiction, gambling, etc. by bailing them out or lending them money with no questions asked. It is precisely because you still love them, that you keep up the hard task of saying “no” when it would be easier to either give in or just cut yourself off from them completely.

  19. Elaine,

    I would rather say that no conditions are placed upon the love itself. If my brother betrays me, I will be angry with him, and if it is appropriate, I will seek for him to be punished for his actions, but I will still love him. This love is unconditional, because nothing that anyone (including my brother) could do would remove that love.

    This can be the case for a pro-choice woman. She may decide to keep one child and abort another. She may love the child that she keeps unconditionally (nothing the child or anyone else does can remove this love). She does not unconditionally love the child that she aborts.

    Why can’t this pro-choice woman use the phrase “unconditional love”?

  20. Foxfier,

    The conversation has moved on. I have temporarily adopted Richard’s definition, to see if (a) the definition makes sense and if (b) pro-choice supporters are justified in using the term.

  21. ….with a glass of Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Free Range Red…

    Thanks for the link – I initially thought you had a plate of scrambled eggs covered in ketchup. 🙂

  22. Ace, the examples I gave for unconditional love all came from “Psychological Concept Applied in Relationships”. One can always look up the definitions of ‘conditional’ and unconditional love’.
    Elaine gave a good example to your question/statement: “If this is the understanding, why can’t someone who is pro-choice use the term “unconditional love”?”
    Jay – If a person is pro-choice and abort the child are they showing it ‘unconditional love’ or any love at all for that matter. If there was any love for the child she would not abort the child. In the same manner the parents of the woman can still have ‘unconditional love’ for their daughter even though she has destroyed their grandchild which they would of been able to shower with love – the child is not theirs but their granddaughters. So a pro-choice person would not be justified in using the term ‘unconditional love’ for the child she destroys.

    Sorry for late reply but took time to watch the football game.

  23. Richard,

    I don’t find Elaine’s example helpful, because her example involves a concept of love that I do not accept, and that I do not think most pro-choice people accept.

    A woman may abort one of her children, and may raise her other child very well, with discipline, making sure the child eats his spinach and drinks his milk, and would love this child no matter what the child does. She would have unconditional love for one child, and no love for the other child. Since identity is not one of the conditions considered for unconditional love (according to your definition) then a pro-choice person can show unconditional love (as you define it), and is justified in using the term. Why wouldn’t they be justified?

  24. I think Ace is right that a mother can have unconditional love for some of her children but not all. A disturbing thought to say the least, but certainly possible.

  25. “Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Free Range Red” Excellent choice, but I’d rather apply it to the rosemary-ginger-seared, bacon-wrapped duck I had earlier. After 8pm, anything other than a caustically dry potato vodka martini keeps me up too late.

    That aside, I wonder if a small primer – which I am neither prepared nor qualified to give – might be in order concerning the four “types” of love that were used in the Hellenistic Greek in which so much of the Bible was written. It seems that “Agape” and “Phila” are being bandied here, with a smattering of “Storge.” The differences can make a difference.

    If not, then thanks for the opportunity to throw out my quick food and beverage review.

  26. Great discussion, thanks everyone for the insight.

    Scrambled eggs with ketchup? Never. Tabasco.

    WK Aiken, I’m on it. Good idea about the different kinds of love. Thanks for the food and beverage review!!! 😀

    Ace, it might help if you think in terms of symbolic logic. To say “The statement T is unconditionally true” (I love you), does not call into question the existence of “you.” It necessarily presumes it. Mathematicians would never get anywhere if all they did was sit around going, “Is two really two, dude? Wait, is “is” really “is,” man, whoa heavy!” You get the point…

    Everyone, Ace is a commenter from my blog. Why don’t you introduce yourself a little Ace? Welcome!

  27. Stacy, thanks for the welcome!

    yes, I’m a physicist and am from Stacy’s blog. I’m confused but very interested with the Catholic Church, and currently find a lot about it that is promising, especially from Thomas Aquinas.

    I’m still confused about this “unconditionally” idea. You say that it is used like a modal operator? What is its function? It can’t be the same as “necessarily”, I don’t think, because then my objection about the properties of existence and identity is especially relevant.

    If “unconditional love” is the same as “necessarily I love x”, then it should be independent of any property of x, including x’s existence. Or maybe “necessarily I love x implies necessarily x exists”?

    There is a possible world in which my brother does not exist, and in that world I do not love my brother, so it is not the case that necessarily I love my brother.

  28. Sometimes I wonder if it is the case that, the less common sense people have, the more they need things like modal logic to figure out facts about the world that are obvious to most people.

    My confusion in this matter is not evidence of any practical intelligence, but may well be evidence of its absence.

    Thanks to Mike and Richard (and of course Stacy) for help with understanding.

  29. If a woman “unconditionally loves “ one child and aborts that “unconditionally loved” child’s brother or sister without asking for informed consent, or a negative or a positive, or affirmation or rejection, of the brother or sister from the “unconditionally loved” child, I have to say that the “unconditionally loved” child is not loved at all.
    Please, too, remember that an “informed consent” is only valid from an emancipated person, citizen, as children reach the “age of reason” at seven years, and emancipation at eighteen years, and as abortion is a public issue and the woman must wait eighteen years, the child who is scheduled to be aborted must be quite old.

    Secrecy, and subterfuge are indications that the abortion was not accomplished with “unconditional love” for the other child, children, or husband, or grandparents, or our constitutional posterity. I am inclined to say: “NO”, the woman who is pro-abortion does not have the truth to say “unconditional love”.

  30. Ace – sometimes something that is easy to understand for one is a problem for another, your knowledge in the field of science, as well as Stacy’s would leave me scracthing my head. As you look into the Catholic Church you will find many things that one has to take on ‘faith’ as they cannot be proven or given an answer for through science. Love is a very common theme, from books to movies to songs. The book/movie “Love Story” is about a couple who fall in love though they have differences and when the wife gets sick, she tells him he can leave but refuses and stays by her side till she died – that is unconditional love.
    I’m going to share the link to a song that through the lyrics and pictures gives an example of this ‘unconditional love’ also.

    Going back to a woman who would abort a child and not another, she can only show this ‘unconditional love’ to the child she brought to life, not the one she aborted as she never gave the child a chance to be showered with ‘any form of love’.
    ‘Love is a many splendered thing’ but it is not always easy or to understand.

  31. I believe that it is wrongly assumed that after aborting a child and destroying her ability to mother, an unrepentant woman can still love. I believe that a pro-abortion individual cannot be “mother -in-chief, because the woman is not willing to make the sacrifices required of a mother. God is love. For God to stop loving (in an unconditional love) God would stop being God. The same must hold true for human beings made in the image and likeness of God. For man to stop loving unconditionally, man stops being man. For anyone to proclaim “unconditional love” of which only God is capable, without the grace of God, she speaks only a prayer, but does not deliver. And that is OK in a church, but not in the body politic

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