No, you can’t really! The title above should be the oxymoron of all oxymorons.
There’s nothing about real love that can be made into a weapon. But that doesn’t keep people from trying, especially scared parents and religious people.
They turn their twisted view of love into a weapon. When you’ve done enough, especially the things they think you should do, they will love you. When you don’t, they will not only withhold affection from you, they’ll resort to whatever means they have at their disposal to get you to change. They’ll give you the cold shoulder or disapproving glance. They will gossip about you with other family members. That will rant and rave until you conform to their desires. They will should all over you thinking that increasing levels of obnoxiousness will endear you to their point of view.
Sadly, sometimes it even works. Some people would rather give in to the manipulations of those they care about, than continue to endure their contempt or disdain. But even when people meet those expectations, love doesn’t grow. Resentment does. Feeling forced into change is not really change, and the never feel loved by doing so. They just get the money off of their backs.
That’s because true love cannot be weaponized. Why do religious people do it? Because they have been taught God does. He loves us all, sure, but he only gives his love to those who have earned it. If you think that’s true, you will do all you can to get in his good graces. And, when he doesn’t respond the way you think he should, you can still blame yourself for not having done “enough” to qualify for his love. It’s a horribly frustrating place to live and it will wear you out trying to do so. That’s why those people turn it on others thinking they are doing God a favor.
But God’s love cannot be weaponized. It’s never the incentive to change; it is the environment in which healing happens. Every sin and broken place in our lives is caused by us living as if we are not loved by the Creator. But we are! Deliciously! Extravagantly! Overwhelmingly. We just don’t know it.
He never uses his love as a reward because it is always there for us. It doesn’t rise and fall with our performance. We can ignore it, even reject it, but we’ll be no less loved. He knows that his love is the starting place to follow him out of the darkness and into his light and freedom.
So, don’t think someone is loving you when they are manipulating you to do what they think is best to earn their affection. That’s not love, at least not God’s kind. And don’t tell someone you love them when you withhold your affection to get them to do what you want. Neither express the reality of his love and will only confuse people with what love really is.
God’s love can’t be used as a weapon; it is a reality that pulsates through the universe. You are deeply loved by the God who created you, no matter how lost you feel. If you don’t know that, ask him to show you. Oh, and stop trying to earn it; it will only confuse you, too.