With love’s light wings did I o’erperch these walls,
For stony limits cannot hold love outRomeo and Juliet (2.2)
Ah, love. We are finally arriving at what Love is, correct? Right? We’re finally getting there. Especially after the last post derided society’s view of love, surely a man such as Shakespeare can show us what love is, right?
Probably not. Shakespearean love can teach us a lesson about how society views love, most definitely. It cannot actually teach us anything about true love, however. That lesson is in a couple posts down the road (Now, you’re starting to roll your eyes, I can tell). We need to start off at a baseline of what types of love there are and how they are defined. These will give us more of an idea of how love is formed, what it means to us and how it affects our decisions.
I must tell you, the title is a bit deceiving. There are four types of love. The fourth will come later on in these posts (got to keep you reading somehow); these are simply the three types of love Humans are naturally inclined to. To analyze these types of love, we must take a trip back to Greece to look at the historicity of love and how our language evolved in the process.
“I love you”
“I love you”
“I love you”
These three sentences all say the same thing. Right? Technically they do, but in context, they don’t. Let’s check them out.
“I love you” to a family member is στοργη(Storge). Which literally translates to fondness, affection, or dearness. When God created man, He created man in His own image. But…that’s not quite correct. God doesn’t have an “image” as you’re thinking. He didn’t create a man to look like him. He is a being, a spirit. He doesn’t have a corporeal body. So, what exactly did He create? He created an intellectual soul that included all the emotions, intellectual capabilities, and discernment of God.
Therefore, God created love as a feeling or, better defined, affection as a feeling. This feeling made sure that families stayed close, bonded, raised children, and populated the earth. This also allowed families to have values similar to God’s values if they so chose to do so. This also allowed for the Word of God to spread far and wide as countries and nations developed.
Never thought about saying “I love you” to your favorite cousin or aunt or mom was going to go that far did you?
Second, “I love you” to a friend is φιλόσ(Philos). This one translates to “that which is important or beloved.” My Grandfather used to say, “If you have one friend, you have a treasure worth more than gold.” Our friends are important, right? We want what’s best for them, but also they want what’s best for us. Unlike family, we chose our friends, and therefore, even if we develop feelings for them, we still choose to love them. We want them to take up our time, want them to help us, and be there for them.
The final type of love is the most important for the human race; it’s a propagator of sin and an example of what was stated in the Shakesperean quote above. This term is ɛrɒs(Eros), also the root for our term “erotic,” but in actuality, its literal definition is more basic and speaks to humanity in simplicity. Its literal definition is “desire.” When you break it down, it almost sounds wrong. It doesn’t sound like love at all! It sounds like buyer’s remorse; it sounds like when you buy a new tv and instantly regret it (totally not talking about myself here).
The “So What” in all of this is simply, none of these are love. Even quoted above from the very basic literature of our language and culture, that isn’t love. A knight in shining armor kissing the fair maiden after slaying a dragon isn’t love either.
One type of love is affection in reality (a feeling of fondness), the other is simply putting someone in a place of importance (an action), and the third is basically carnal lust. None of these are actually love. I doubt anyone would equate affection or lust as love if you simply asked them on the street.
Could it be that our interpretation of love is so far off that we presume these three actually equate to some sort of love for one another? Could our language actually be hi-jacked by our culture to ensure that the term love is perverted across our entire lexicon?
Think about it; the main chant nowadays among protestors is “Love is Love” or “You can’t help who you love.” This is usually in the context of sexual identities and gender identities. Let’s take a look at the original Greek meanings and interpret them in those two contexts.
“Love is Love” replaced with Eros actually gives a more accurate and painfully honest picture. “Desire is desire” is by far the most pointed representation of what they are actually saying, along with the other phrase, “You can’t help who you desire.” I will now concede and agree to these two statements. Our society has equated love solely to desire, completely disregarding any form of the type of philosophical, let alone Biblical, love set apart by our contemporaries.
If these emotions were instituted by God, how did they get corrupted then to the point of completely disregarding God’s commandments? Not only do they disregard them, they flamboyantly philander about as blatant disobedience toward the intended purpose each and every human knows to be the truth. Humanity has simply laid down either ignorantly or arrogantly that they do not wish to understand love differently, in a divine manner. We have said “No thank you”(and sometimes much worse) to the Creator regarding one of the most powerful ordinances given to the human race.
If we have an eternally good God, how did this all get perverted? There is only one answer… it’s humankind’s own fault. While we have an all-powerful God, we also have a rebellious carnality in our innate nature. It must be man’s own choice to disregard his own nature and turn to a more gracious and honorable endeavor.
The analysis of this perversion in the next part “What is Love // Defiance of true love” coming next Monday.