How would you define the word love? English has a very broad definition of love. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I am going to focus on the interpersonal love found in marriage between a husband and wife. The ancient Greeks had many words for love. Wikipedia puts the count at 6 different words, but I have seen lists vary between 3 and 8 different words. I will look at what I consider to be the 3 main Greek words for love and how they relate in marriage.
Today’s romantic love focus seems to be on the passion for one another with an emphasis on the sexual attraction and action. That sort of love is the Greek word eros, from which we get the term erotic. I believe eros love includes passion, affection, and delight in one another, which does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros love produces strong feelings that are powerful. However, those feelings will wax and wane over time. The media emphasizes eros love because it is flashy and easy to express. Some people will equate eros love with lust. They say it is all about our own sexual desires and the fulfillment of those desires. I believe that eros love is more than the lust of sexual attraction. Eros love creates an unstable foundation for marriage, especially if it is focused only on sexual attraction.
Philia is the Greek love word that denotes friendship. It is a love word where you enjoy one’s company, talking with each other, and doing stuff together. It is the love of friends. Many times it is described as “brotherly love”. Friendship in marriage is important. You want to know your spouse and share life together with them. Philia love is all about sharing life together.
Agape love is the main love that you find in the Bible. It is an unconditional love that embodies self-sacrifice and commitment. It is a love that causes you to act in your spouse’s best interest and not your own. Agape love first looks to others and not to yourself. It is the main love God has for us. Agape love allows for true intimacy to occur. The commitment to each other allows for one to be vulnerable to each other. That is what intimacy is all about. Because of that intimacy, agape love strengthens the friendship of philia love and increases the passion of eros love. It makes marriage a safe place to express oneself, to share concerns, and to work through issues. It is a love that binds us together. Agape love is the stable foundation from which the other loves should flow from. Agape love is described well in this Bible passage.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
How does your love fit this description? My love does not always fit well to the description, but it is something I desire to do better at and in doing so it will strengthen my marriage. Agape love makes for a stable foundation for one’s marriage. God’s agape love does fit this description. Replace the word ‘love’ (and ‘it’) with God or Jesus and see how God loves you.
God has many times in the Bible expressed his love for us in terms of marriage. We, the people of God, are the bride and God is the bridegroom or husband. God passionately pursues us (eros). He seeks to restore that personal friendship that was lost in Eden (philia). And he loved us so much that he died for us, so that we can be united to him (agape). (Note, only the Greek love words philia and agape appear in the Bible.)
A closing thought:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12; agape love)
P.S. This post was inspired by a session from the Marriage in Christ Seminar.
2 thoughts on “Is Love Love?”
Oh my! All this time goes by and I sensed you could produce such a gift as this blog. Hopefully, many will appreciate it and re-read it many times as I have and plan to continue. Thank you.
So, Mr. Marriage Seminar, how are you planning to observe Valentine’s Day with your main squeeze? ☺
If you’re a redneck, then Jeff Foxworthy just might have some observations about this whole area of matrimony:
Love & Marriage
You just might be a redneck if …….
· You saved your allowance to pay for your first divorce.
· You’ve given your date flowers you stole from a cemetery.
· You tell your kids the facts of life and they interrupt you with corrections.
· You request the honeymoon suite at the Motel 6.
· When you wife left you, she took the house with her.
· You dump your boyfriend because your husband has been paroled.
· All your wedding photos have someone torn out of them.
· You gave your wife a glue gun for your anniversary.
· You had a marriage license before you had a driver’s license.
· Your current wife was a bridesmaid at your first wedding.
· Two of your weddings made America’s Funniest Home Videos.
· Your daughter mistakenly thought you’d attend her wedding on opening day of deer season.
· You select a date’s corsage to match her tattoo.
· You’ve told a bride, “You clean up pretty good.”
· You use your daughter’s wedding as an excuse to buy a new shotgun.
· You’ve lost your wife in a poker game.
· You asked the preacher to repeat the question during your wedding vows.
· You’ve been married three times and still have the same in-laws.
· At your wedding reception you put Alka-Seltzer in cheap wine to get ‘champagne’.
· You were registered at the Dollar Store.
· You won your wife’s wedding ring by knocking down three milk bottles with a baseball.
· During the wedding, when you kissed the bride, your John Deere hat fell off.
· Your wedding music was played on a banjo.
· You signed your marriage license on the hood of a car.
· Your wedding cake was made by Sara Lee.
· Your will states your wife can’t touch your money until she’s 14.
· You wedding dress was a leopard-skin print.