The idea of love is a highly abused concept. From ancient times to the present people have sought it, received it, given it, and abused it. One must wander through a forest of semantics and wade through a swamp of corrupted ideas and ideals to find the essence of love in any culture.
Many mistakenly think of love in the sense of such emotions as passion or ecstasy. Couples entering into marriage with no more than sensual feelings will ultimately be disillusioned as passion begins to fail.
Love has never been more aptly modeled, described or expressed than in the gift of Jesus. He, Himself, quite adequately voiced it in John 3:16 when He said: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
Many see love in terms of emotion. Others have a more carnal viewpoint of it, thinking solely of physical relationships. There are many definitions offered in an attempt to grasp that which is primarily subjective and largely indefinable.
The ancient Greeks believed love existed on four levels. We can identify with their concepts as long as we view them in light of Christian ideals:
- Agape — Agape is love that is divinely originated and enabled. It was wonderfully exemplified through Jesus Christ. It describes the love God has for us, the love we have for Him and the way He enables us to love each other.
- Phileo — Phileo is kindly affection or brotherly love. It is a step down from agape and is never used interchangeably with it. While agape is an unselfish love that is ready to serve or sacrifice, phileo is a manifestation of affection that is characterized by constancy and consideration.
- Eros — Eros is unrequited sexual drive. It has no idea of the divine or even of brotherly affection. It’s focus is always on sensual thoughts and desires.
- Libido — Libido is the expression and consummation of sexual drive through physical relations.
Obviously, love is meant to be felt and expressed in the tone of Godliness whether it is in context of our relationship with other believers or whether it has to do with the marriage bed. The further one moves away from Godly motivations and relationships, the more his feelings are conformed to natural and sensual drives.
‘Love can only be known from the actions it prompts’. Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine. Many mistakenly think of love in the sense of such emotions as passion or ecstasy. Couples entering into marriage with no more than sensual feelings will ultimately be disillusioned as passion begins to fail. Certainly passion is a part of marriage consummation but marriage must be built on much deeper attitudes and affections.
It is a mistake to base one’s sense of love on feelings. Love is a choice more than it is a feeling. Feelings will fluctuate as determined by such things as stress, tiredness, pre-occupation, tenderness, respect, companionship, desire and a multitude of other factors. Right choosing in all seasons of life will produce right relating with right relating producing a deep and abiding relationship that grows deeper and more profound as the years pass. This kind of relationship will survive the multitudinous tests imposed upon it by the vicissitudes of life and the stress of the passing of time with the imposition of age.
Right relationships produce and are produced by proper bonding. Bonding is the result of:
- Frequency of association or contact — A flourishing relationship is dependent on repetitive contact and/or association.
- Complexity of the relationship — The more we are exposed to others in different settings and in different interest settings the more there is a connecting and compatibility of minds and emotions which, in turn, encourage the relationship.
- Degree of commitment between the person involved — Commitment implies trust, loyalty, responsibility and accountability.
Ideal love is a combination of the divine and the natural based on what the relationship is. It is important to remember that because God first loved us, we can love others.
Copyright April 2001 by Jefferson H. Floyd. All rights reserved.