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A brief overview/example of the four Greek loves. An essay for one of my religion classes.
Throughout Scripture, the Lord shows us what real love is all about. The bummer for us is that the English language only has one word for love. Just one! This really limits our being able to express the emotion properly, and it stunts our understanding of the term when others use it.

Not all cultures have such a limited view of the expression of strong feeling. The Greeks had four different terms which all translate into English as 'love'. While each term has a specific definition to it, they all fall under the heading 'Love'. C.S. Lewis did a wonderful job explaining these four Greek terms, and I will sum it up for you to help demonstrate the point I'm making about God's love later on in this paper.

Here's the breakdown:

Storge - is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance. It is described as the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love and, as a result, is able to transcend most discriminating factors. Ironically, its strength, however, is what makes it vulnerable. Affection has the appearance of being "built-in" or "ready made", says Lewis, and as a result people come to expect, even to demand, its presence—irrespective of their behavior and its natural consequences.

Philia - is a strong bond existing between people who share a common interest or activity. Lewis explicitly says that his definition of friendship is narrower than mere companionship: friendship in his sense only exists if there is something for the friendship to be "about". He calls Companionship or Clubbableness a matrix for friendship, as friendship can rise in the context of both. Friendship is the least natural of loves, states Lewis; i.e., it is not biologically necessary to progeny like either affection (e.g., rearing a child), eros (e.g., creating a child), or charity (e.g., providing for a child). It has the least association with impulse or emotion. In spite of these characteristics, it was the belief of the ancients, (and Lewis himself), that it was the most admirable of loves because it looked not at the beloved (like eros), but towards that "about"—that thing because of which the relationship was formed. This freed the participants in this friendship from self-consciousness.

Eros - is love in the sense of 'being in love'. This is distinct from sexuality, which Lewis calls Venus, although he does spend time discussing sexual activity and its spiritual significance in both a pagan and a Christian sense. He identifies eros as indifferent. This is good because it promotes appreciation of the beloved regardless of any pleasure that can be obtained from them. It can be bad, however, because this blind devotion has been at the root of many of history's most abominable tragedies. In keeping with his warning that "love begins to be a demon the moment [it] begins to be a god", he warns against the danger of elevating eros to the status of a god.

Agape - is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. Lewis recognizes this as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves to the love of God, who is full of charitable love. Lewis states that "He is so full, in fact, that it overflows, and He can't help but love us." Lewis metaphorically compares love with a garden, charity with the gardening utensils, the lover as the gardener, and God as the elements of nature. God's love and guidance act on our natural love (that cannot remain what it is by itself) as the sun and rain act on a garden: without either, the object (metaphorically the garden; realistically love itself) would cease to be beautiful or worthy. Lewis warns that those who exhibit charity must constantly check themselves that they do not flaunt—and thereby warp—this love ("But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing."—Matthew 6:3), which is its potential threat.

Okay, for those of you who made it through all of that, let me get to the good part. As an example, let's use a very familiar story to illustrate agape love. Genesis, chapter three, is the story of the fall of man from God's grace. In the process of committing the first sin, man is expulsed from the Garden and sent into the world to go it on his own (for the most part, anyway). Check this out, though:

Gen 3:21 "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."

You get it? After Adam and Eve had broken the ONE command God had given them, He demonstrated perfect love, agape love, and clothed them. He should've kicked their naked butts out of Eden, slammed the gates and never bothered with them again. But He didn't. He performed the very first animal sacrifice - a LAMB - to give them clothes - to COVER them. It is one of the very first examples of the Lord's neverending patience and sincere agape love for mankind, and it truly set the tone for the following sixty-five books in the Bible. He has done nothing but sacrifice for us, for you, for me. His love knows no bounds. God always operates in agape love. Agape love demands agape love back. All that God has ever done is love us. All He's ever wanted us to do is love Him. Love Him with the love that knows no bounds, the love that obeys, that praises, that sacrifices.

Father, I come to You tonight with a heart that is weeping for Your love. Words cannot express the joy I feel by Your grace. You have always loved me, and I know You always will. I cannot wait for the day I get to tell You how much I love You in person. You always know how to reach me, Lord. In Your Word, in a song, or in Your silence. You teach me. You gently, sweetly break me. My Adonai, thank You so much for Your love, Your sacrifice, Your Son. I love You so much...in Jesus' name...Amen...
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