No Trust, No Love. Really?

(8th in a series on trust in relation to Reactive Attachment Disorder)

As a submarine sends out decoys to distract a missile away from the right target, so false thinking distracts parents and children from shooting at the right solutions when dealing with problems. Finding an online example of false thinking about RAD isn’t hard. One I chose randomly  from a website of a counseling group in California posited that unless there is trust, there cannot be love.

Is it true that without trust there cannot be love? Is this biblical thinking?

    • God commands, “Love your enemies.” Do we trust enemies?
    • John 2:24-25 says, “But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew…what was in man.” Does this mean that Jesus could not love them?
    • Can a mother not love her two-year-old without trusting the precious little willful one? I should hope that because she loves the child she does not trust him, lest she neglect to be watchful and he harms himself or habituates to getting away with selfish behaviors.

What do you think about the following propositions regarding whether trust is a necessary antecedent to love?

  1. It is often true that trusting a person makes it easier to love him. It is not true that I must trust before I can love.
  2.  The belief that without trust there cannot be love throws a decoy into the mix. It displaces responsibility and promotes selfishness. The distrustful child gains an excuse and a weapon: “You have to prove yourself to me before I can love you. Now, hop to it!” Parents focus on the decoy instead of the target. Trying desperately to earn the child’s trust, they become child-centered rather than God-centered.
  3. The command, “Love one another” does not require “trust one another.” Love demands just the opposite, looking to the welfare of the other person even if it means risk of hurt and loss.
  4. It is understandable that repeatedly hurt children refuse to trust others. But then, distrust becomes a habit difficult to correct. We can empathize because these reactions are typical of people in general. But parents must, in humility and compassion, insistently call them to love God and love others anyway and teach them what the Bible says about how to do so. First Corinthians 13:4-8 is a great place to start.
  5. Distrust can grow into a habit that is difficult to correct. Then, the person learns to love autonomy (Prov. 18:1) and withholds warranted trust from a person who has done enough to prove that on a human level he is worthy of a high degree of trust, such as a spouse or a faithful friend. In these cases, withholding trust is willful, hurtful selfishness. It implies, “You’re lying to me.” So it subtly accuses. This distrust is a lack of love. Children need to be taught that trust in God is essential. Trust in those who have proven themselves is important for honoring the other person. Using sinful distrust to hurt another person or to think only of self requires repentance.
  6. We need to learn to think biblically.

(This post can stand alone, but it is the final post in a series. I encourage reading preceding  posts as they build context for the conclusions here.)


About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling. I counsel at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center. M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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5 Responses to No Trust, No Love. Really?

  1. Nana says:

    Linda I love the way you put it. It can be applied to many love relationships such as parent-child relationships, friendship, and romantic relationships. I’m dealing with a situation in which I love a man, who I believe loves me too, but we have trust issues. I started looking in the New Testament to find out what are the guidelines according to Jesus, and I’ve come to the conclusion that love is the most important commandment and Jesus wants us to love each other, but only trust God. Since we are all imperfect, even when we have the best of intentions, we can end up hurting someone who trusts us, and sometimes someone we love can make a mistake and hurts us too. That’s why, we don’t need to trust, but love each other. Because if we love each other, we can forgive our errors, and we can be patient, and we can be kind, regardless of our mistakes and the mistakes of others. I’m glad I found out about this, because I felt like my trust issues were stopping me from loving (as in acting with love) towards this man, who in turn started reacting to my behavior in the same way. Now I know that I should love him, my friends, my family, and everyone, and put my trust only in God. Lack of trust shouldn’t be an excuse for lack of love.

    “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
    1 Corinthians 13:4-7

    “7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
    1 John 4:7-8

    “24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”
    John 2:24-25

    • Linda says:

      What a delight to hear that you went to the Bible to find solutions on this topic! That is exactly what a follower of Christ should do, find out what He says.

      Yes, lack of trust is no excuse for lack of love. This is the key point.

      At the same time, refusal to trust where trust is warranted can be hurtful. It tells the other person, “I think you’re lying.”

      And of course, we need to be careful about who we trust. Many women get into hurtful, or even sinful, relationships because they believe everything the guy says when they shouldn’t. Then, when catastrophe strikes, they want to overreact in distrust of all men. They miss the fact that the problem occurred in the heart before they even met the particular unreliable man.

      Keep studying the inexhaustible treasure that is His Word!
      His grace be yours,

  2. Peter says:

    Some part of this is going to the extreme, I believe u CANT love properly without trust. Im not saying to trust a baby to crawl their way home from day care after they have learn to crawl. thats not wise, the bible says with all things we must use wisdom. So we have to trust with wisdom. if i have a family member that just came out of prison for stealing, would i leave my wallet on the table, no, thats leaving something in his way to stumble. and just wrong. now if im he claims he is turning over a new leaf, i have to respect that, and not act funny around him. Yes the bible says, to love your enamy, use wisdom, his agenda is to destroy u, so dont give him a knife and turn around and close ur eyes. u might get stabbed in the back. Rather, trust when u love on them and bless them, that they will stop being ur enamy, trust that they will have a change of heart towards u, trust that will turn their life around. trust that they will respond positively to the hot coals that ur putting on their head. be wise, Love trust and hopes. Trust with wisdom, trust in the right way. Love requires Trust. not trusting someone u love can lead to u treating them as if they did something before they even done it. just my thoughts, God Bless 🙂

  3. Casey says:


    I have just discovered your blog this morning and finding your insight into RAD fascinating. I am a therapist specializing in attachment based therapies. I am wondering if you are familiar with the work of Dan Hughes, Bruce Perry, or the Theraplay Institute? None of the afforementioned are Christian/Christian based (to my knowledge, and definitely not explicitly), but each focuses on the nuerodevelopmental pathways formed from conception to age five that set a child (person) up for all future interactions in relationships with others. Are you familiar with any of this work? How do you believe it fits in with what you have determined to be the Biblical perspective on this topic?

    I look forward to your response and hopefully some discourse with you.

    Thank you!


    • Linda says:


      I appreciate your questions. I cite Dan Hughes and Bruce Perry several times in my book, especially in Part 3 where I grapple with the central question you raise.

      First, in their unproven theory on neurodevelopmental pathways, Hughes and Perry attempt to explain moral behaviors biochemically, by a medical model. The brain produces moral behaviors. If the brain is the problem, then it logically follows that the brain needs to be changed, and so therapies are developed with the intent of reorganizing neural pathways. Basically, then, this approach is an effort to change moral behavior by means of neurochemical restructuring.

      The presupposition underlying this approach is philosophical materialism. Philosophical materialism attempts to explain man apart from the Bible. Therefore, by definition, it is antithetical to the Bible. The question then is, can a philosophy that fundamentally opposes God’s Word fit in with what God’s Word says?

      The Bible never prescribes neural restructuring as a solution to moral problems. That makes sense because it is the heart (the immaterial aspect of man), not the brain (material), that drives moral behaviors. Jesus said that “from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fortifications, thefts…” and other moral (mis)behaviors (Mark 7:21).

      The Bible deals with parental influences on children, but never allows that what happens prior to age five is determinative of moral behavior. Instead, God commands upright behavior. Commands imply that instead of physiological inability there exists an immaterial capacity of willful choice that supersedes the physical. These dear, sinfully-habituated children need the great hope of change that God’s commands imply and the Savior can supply.


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