Monday, March 24, 2014

Where is the Love? A Study of Love – Part 2

Last week my son-in-law wrote a guest post addressed two types of love. I wanted to follow up his post with a discussion of two other types of love. You can read Logan’s post here.

It often feels like we live in a world full of haters. Everywhere we look we see hate. It is on the nightly news. It destroys families. It ends friendships. There is no shortage of hate around us. Though we all want is to be loved but it seems like real love is harder to find than ever before.

God has a lot to say about love in the New Testament. The English word LOVE in the New Testament was actually 4 different Greek words, each symbolizing a different kind of love.

The Four Kinds of Love
                           στοργή – storgē
The love family members have for each other.
                           φιλία – phileo
The love good friends have for each other.
                           ἔρως – érōs
The love people have for each other when they are sexually attracted to each other.
                           ἀγάπη – agape
The love that is willing to sacrifice everything for someone else’s good.

In a previous post we discussed storgē love and phileo love. Just to review. Though those two types of love can be found in many place, the church is a natural place to learn about how to have healthy families and good friendships.

Now we turn our attention to the other types of love: érōs love and agape love.

ἔρως – érōs love
                           Eros is the Greek word used to refer to sexual feelings a person may have for someone else. This is the same word from which we get the word “erotic.”
                           Though many people think of sex was something that is dirty or bad, we must remember that God created SEX and at the right time and in the right situation this is a wonderful kind of love.
                           But in the wrong time and place and with the wrong person, this kind of love can really hurt. The reason that eros love can hurt is because each time we have sex we give a piece of ourselves away. We can never get those pieces of ourselves back, so when we give ourselves to the wrong people at the wrong time and in the wrong situations, it rips us apart.
                           Sometimes we feel like we love someone and so we give ourselves to them but then realize we did not love them after all. We both get hurt even though we did not mean to hurt anyone. Other times we find out that the person to whom we gave ourselves to never really loved us anyway and that really hurts. Even if they did love us at first, if they stop loving us, it can hurt too.
                           Why is it that we can be so sure we love a person at first, but later realize that we do not?
                           Typically girls think with their hearts, so they “feel” like they love some guy and give themselves to him. But after they get to know the guy better, their brain tells them he was not the right one after all. Girls need to learn to think with their brains first instead of their hearts.
                           Typically guys think with “something” a little lower than their hearts and they lust after a girl thinking that lust is the same as love. Most of the time once they satisfy their lustful craving, they realize they do not love the girl as much as they thought and the relationship ends. Guys need to learn the difference between lust and love, which also requires using their brains more than other parts of their anatomy.
                           This is why God gave us some rules about how to use eros love correctly. Many people think God gave us these rules because He is a cosmic killjoy who does not want us to have any fun. In reality, God was trying to spare us a lot of unnecessary pain and heartache in life.

How do we avoid the pain eros love can create?
                           1. Do not rush into sexual relationships too early.
                           Song of Solomon 3:5 - . . . . do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time.
                           Our bodies may be ready and willing at 11 or 12 years old, but emotionally we are never ready until much later. Our hearts may think we are ready after two or three weeks of dating, but rarely can we really know a person well in that length of time. There is a right time and place for eros love and when people rush into it quickly, it always ends badly. It takes time to really think, not just feel a rush of emotion. It takes time to know the difference between lust and love.
                           2. Keep ourselves pure until God gives us the one person whom will be our marriage partner for the rest of our lives.
                           Hebrews 13:4 - Marriage is honorable and the marriage bed is undefiled. But the immoral will be judged.
                           Sex is God’s wedding gift to each of us. When we give that gift to someone other than our spouse, something wonderful becomes defiled. If a person is not willing to make the commitment to marriage, then they are not yet emotionally ready for this kind of love. This goes against what our culture tells us, but as Christians, we are to follow a culture of the Kingdom of God, not of the world. The culture of the world has many ideas about eros love that are grossly inaccurate.
                           For example, one inaccurate thing our culture says about sex is living together before marriage. It is common in our culture for people to move in together before marriage as a way to test things out (60-70% of couples do this). However, statistics show us that this actually does not improve their current relationship nor the survival rate of their later marriage. Researcher Aaron Ben Zeev has stated that “Many studies have found that premarital cohabitation is associated with increased risk of divorce, a lower quality of marriage, poorer marital communication, and higher levels of domestic violence.” This is not a Christian study trying to prop up God’s standards for marriage. It comes from a secular source, yet demonstrates that God was right all along.
                           However, just having a wedding does not guarantee we will not be hurt by eros love either. Far too many people put a lot of time into planning a wedding, but very little into planning how their relationship will be after marriage. For eros love to work the way it should, we should spend time investing in storge and phileo love that we talked about in our last post. We must take time to become friends with a person and let them meet our families. If we cannot be good friends, how will we be good lovers? If we cannot work out our family issues before marriage, why do we think we will be able to after marriage?
                           Though each kind of love is different than the others, they are often intertwined in our minds and hearts so we can have the best relationships possible. Better to learn this truth now than later, and save ourselves a lot of heartache.

αγάπη - Agápē love
                           The final kind of love we want to discuss is agape love. The Greek word Agápē (αγάπη) is used to refer to a love so deep that it will sacrifice anything for the good of the other person. This is the kind of love that causes a parent to jump in front of an oncoming car to save his or her child. This is the kind of love that causes a person to give up his or her successful career to care for a disabled relative. This is the kind of love that causes a soldier to jump on a grenade to save his entire squad. Very few people ever achieve this kind of love toward others.
                           This is also the kind of love that God showed us by allowing His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
                           Romans 5:8 -But God proved his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
                           Christ did not die for us when we were perfect and living right. Christ had already died for us while we were still mired in our sin. Christ knew what we could be, so He overlooked what we were and loved us in spite of ourselves. God’s agape love for us is so powerful that even if we have misused eros love, God still holds us close to His heart. God sees us at our worst and loves us anyway. Never question God’s love because God has already proved His love to us.
                           God is the essence of true love.
                           John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
                           We must decide how we will respond to God’s love letter (the Bible) to us and how we will deal with His greatest act of affection toward us (the cross). Will we accept God’s love and make the commitment to love Him back? Will we allow God’s love to flow in us and through us and carry away the pain of our past mistakes? Only by accepting God’s agape love can we ever hope to show the highest level of love to those around us.

                           We can avoid a lot of pain in our lives if we follow God’s rules for using eros love.
                           Though all forms of love are important in our lives, understanding and receiving God’s agape love is the most important love lesson we can ever learn.
                           If we have not yet accepted God’s love, today is the day to repent of our sins, ask God’s forgiveness and commit ourselves to receiving and sharing His love.

                           If we have already done that but allowed our love to grow cold, today is the day to rekindle the fire of our devotion to Him.

1 comment:

  1. I've enjoyed the posts by you and Logan.