Category Archives: bonding

Late July Notes

Being a full-fledged Christian requires bonding with Jesus in addition to accepting “the lofty ideas” of Christian doctrines and and “the ethical choice” to practice Christian moral teaching.

This post corrects Encounter With Christ as Truth Conditions for Christian Doctrine. In that post, I presented Benedict XVI’s claim that being a Christian is more than merely accepting lofty ideas and making ethical choices as making a philosophical point about the truth conditions for Christian beliefs. I proposed that the additional factor of encountering the person of Christ was that historically some people physically encountered Jesus. Our current faith rests on the testimony of those historical witnesses, eg., the Apostles. What I wrote was correct about truth conditions for Christianity. Christianity requires eye witness testimony of people who actually encountered Christ before and after His resurrection. However, what I wrote is not a correct interpretation of Benedict XVI’s intention.

St. Paul (RM 10:9-10) wrote:

If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Benedict wrote about the believing in the heart which makes someone the right kind of person, a justified person, for salvation. Believing in the heart is an affective condition. It is the affective condition of Bonding which is necessary for Love. Professing with the lips is a cognitive condition. One professes with the lips the “lofty ideas” and “ethical choices” of Christianity. The bonding condition is more important than the cognitive condition; it is love for God in the person of Jesus Christ. As St. Paul wrote in another place (1 Cor. 13:13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

In what follows, I am treating bonding with Jesus as encountering Christ.

I am afraid that Benedict XVI is correct. In a Christian religion without people who both profess the “lofty ideas” and “ethical choices” of Christian teaching and also personally bond to Jesus, such a religion’s Christianity becomes a belief system, an ideology. For that so-called Christian religion, we should not say that “God is dead for them.” But we can say that “Jesus is dead for them.” For if no one bonds with Jesus, no one believes that Jesus is alive. If no one believes that Jesus is alive, no one believes that Jesus rose from the dead; and, in that case, as Paul reminds us, their faith is in vain.

So, if there is not a “critical mass” of adherents of religion who have a devotion to Jesus, eg. pray to him, that religion is only nominally Christian. Similarly, if too many adherents of that religion believe that relating to Jesus, viz., bonding with Jesus, is illusory, that religion is only nominally Christian.

Why did I write that I am afraid that Benedict XVI was correct about Christianity needing an encounter with Christ? I am afraid that in the West, viz., Western Europe and North America we are losing the critical mass of those for whom Jesus is real person with whom they are bonded in some type of love forming bond. Fortunately, with a Trinitarian concept of God, we can maintain hope for being full-pfleged Christians because the Holy Spirit can bless enough people to have a personal relation to Jesus. For as Paul teaches in 1Co 12:3 ” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.”

Bonding Necessary for Love

In Love is More than Willing the Good of The Other , I point out that we cannot say all  we intend to say with “love” by talking only of willing and thinking of the good of the one loved. There is a need for a complex of affections, thoughts and actions forming a relationship of bonding. There is a variety of bonding relations which could be called “love-forming.” The varieties of bonding leads to a variety of ways of loving. There are personal bonds which relate two people to one another which are not love-forming., viz., hatred. I focus mainly on on what might be recognized as love-forming bonding.

 Typically bonding is a relation of one person to another. What are some basic semantic features of almost all types of bonding relations?

The relationship is not always symmetric.  For instance, consider a case of a man and a woman who mutually respect one another and will the good for each other.  However, the man, as the saying goes, falls in love with her.  For, good or ill, he had bound himself in love with her.  However, she does not have, and cannot by any act of will create that love forming bond with him. He loves her while she does not love him. Obviously, bonding relations are not transitive. A friend of your friend may not be your friend. Some might think that love-forming bonding is obviously, and maybe necessarily, reflexive. I challenge an assumption that a love-forming bonding is reflexive.Suicide suggests that some people hate themselves. Anecdotal evidence indicates that many people find their happiest times of life when they have forgotten themselves.

I write that bonding is typically a personal relationship for I want to set aside discussion of bonding with non-human animals, such as our pets. Also I do not want to get distracted on whether or not there can be bonding with non personal entities such as organizations or locations. I could easily become distracted by tryng to distinguish bonding from loyality and a sense of who one is. I do not intend to define “bonding.” I discuss bonding only by making semantical observations about how we talk of bonding. I present these semantical observations as bringing out what we mean by “bonding.” Story tellers perhaps give us a better understanding than could be given by any definition. Stories can reveal bonding from the perspective of the characters and from the omniscient author perspective. Unfortunately, I am not a creative writer.

Is bonding a thought or a feeling?

Frequently, bonding is talked about as a some type of feeling or complex of feelings. As a saying goes one might admit to starting to love by admitting “having feelings for so-and-so.” However, it is not a thoughtless raw feeling. It is a feeling for someone with certain,perhaps indefinable, features. I doubt that there is a way of identifying the feeling, as opposed to the thoughts in loving. Suppose Tom fell in love with Sue 2016 and after a break-up in 2018 falls in love with Jane in 2022. Would there be a way of deciding the truth of “The feeling of Tom for Sue is the same as the feeling of Tom for Jane” apart from any thoughts of Tom? Even the binding of an infant with his or her mother is a mixture of inexpressible thoughts and feelings. Facial recognition is cognitive. Facial recognition devices – a type of robot- provide evidence that facial recognition is cognitive. The program for a facial recognition robot mimic the thoughts of facial recognition.

More generally, bonding is to something or someone under a description.

All things considered, bonding is best classifed as the affective dimension of love. I suspect that if there were a way of investigating a brain of a bonding person, brain regions associated with feelings would be more active than regions associated with cognitive processing.

Proper control of bonding is essential in sexual morality. In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilihism Tulsa 2012, I specify courting, bonding, mating as the main areas of sexual morality. In the book I focus on mating, eg. coitus. A free copy of this book is available by emailing .