What is Love?
- I love God.
- I love lasagna.
- I love that song.
- I love my neighbor.
- I love their accent.
- I love my wife.
Not only do those phrases share unequal value, they literally mean different things. I don’t love my wife in the same way I love a song, nor do I love my neighbor the way I love lasagna.
So, what does it mean to say you, “love” someone? And, is love always good?
In a book called, “The Four Loves”, C. S. Lewis spoke of different definitions of the word Love in the greek.
- Philia love – is a selfish love. It says, “I love you only if you reward me.”
- Storge love – is a familial love. It says, “I love you because I’m obligated to care for you.”
- Ã‰ros love – is a physical, passionate, sensual love, usually of a sexual nature. It says, “I love how you make me feel (emotionally or physically).
- AgÃ¡pe love – is the Holy Grail we call, “Unconditional Love”. It says, “I love you no matter what, and there’s nothing you can do to earn it… even if you don’t love me back, I still love you.
Some will say that love is always good, and nobody should be judged for the object of their love, but is that true?
The Love Question
Let’s do an exercise together, and consider the following statements…
Should a male be judged for [loving] a female that is his wife?
Should a male be judged for [loving] a female that is NOT his wife?
Should a male be judged for [loving] a female that is a minor?
Should a male be judged for [loving] a female that is a child?
Should a male be judged for [loving] another male?
Should a male be judged for [loving] another male that is a child?
Should a male be judged for [loving] an animal?
The Love Problem
Depending on the context, and the type of love we’re talking about, all of those statements could be answered, “No, of course they shouldn’t be judged!”
However, replace [loving] with, [having sex with], and several would be answered, “Yes, absolutely they should be judged!”
No moral society would say pedophilia is acceptable; nor would they approve of beastiality. So, the statement, “love is always good, and nobody should be judged for the object of their love,” is not really true.
For those who allow God and his biblically prescribed morals to define what love is proper, there is no way to approve of sexual love between two people of the same family, people of the same sex, a human and an animal, an adult and a child, or two people who aren’t married.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with AgÃ¡pe love between them, or even Philia or Storge love, given the proper boundaries. I would not allow just anyone to Storge-love my child the way I do. I would not allow anyone at all to Ã‰ros-love my wife the way I do. But I would allow most people to Philia love them both.
In the end it is both natural, acceptable and right for people to make a moral evaluation of what happens in the society around us, and it is necessary for all participants in that society to yield to the greater moral code… for the protection and preservation of society.
Should pedophiles be allowed to define the moral code for society? Absolutely not!
Zoophiles? Homosexuals? Incestuous? Adulterers?
The motives of each of these groups distort what the Bible teaches as healthy, moral love.
The Love Answer
In the end, the safest path to follow is to align our morals with those of the Bible. If we do so, we won’t have to fear the judgment of God, let alone the judgment of society.
Jesus said it best in Matthew 10:28,
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
It’s vitally important that we promote and reinforce healthy, biblical love, and to teach against sinful actions as defined by the Bible.
So, how should people be treated who “love” differently than the Bible prescribes? With the “love” of Christ. With decency. With respect. With compassion. With patience. With grace. And, with Truth (speak the truth in love).
If we really do love others, we will lovingly lead them to a right relationship with God, even when that means helping them identify and correct behavior that separates them from Him.
Cover photo by alexa fades away