Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Look at Love

A recent discussion of Romance novels caused me to reexamine the Greek love words. These are storge, phileo, eros, and agape. There’s little question what some of these mean. storge appears to be a fondness for the people we know. You might have this for your co-workers. phileo goes farther than that. It is more like the love that David and Jonathan had for each other and apparently, it is the love Peter had for Jesus. It reminds me of old family friends that you may not see for months, but when you get together it is like you’ve never been apart. Then there is eros which is that natural sexual desire that we all have. It is good when a man has it for his wife, but he could also have it for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. We don’t have much control over it, but we do have the choice not to act on it. Lastly, there is agape, which I suspect is misunderstood by many people.

The reason I think this word is misunderstood is because people have equated agape with the unconditional love of God. We humans are not able to love like God loves, so people assume that we can never reach the level of agape love. Sounds good. The problem is that God command husbands to agapeo their wives.

Rather than looking at agape as unconditional love, as C. S. Lewis did, it seems like a better understanding is that agape is the intentional love. The other loves are built on hormones, chemistry, and chauvinism. But agape is a choice. You don’t have to like someone, or be sexual attracted to someone to be able to love someone with agape love. They may be mean and smell bad, but you can choose to love them anyway. By its nature, it is typically unconditional because a person has chosen to love someone for their own reason, rather than because of how the person looks or treats them.