Friday, June 10, 2005

One kind of love

As Christians we are told by Greek scholars that the New Testament has three different words that are translated into English by our word “love.” These are philios, or brotherly love, eros, or conjugal love and agape or divine love.

This may be true enough but I don't believe in the implicit conclusion that is thereby drawn : namely that three words for love in Greek mean three kinds of love.

I think a lot of people have been deceived--some gladly, others unwittingly--by this splitting of love into three types. We can now downgrade our love from agape, to philios or eros at will. We have a special kind of high-quality love that we reserve for God. We have a second-grade, lower quality love that we show to our brothers and we keep a raw, animal-level love for our spouse.

We talk about loving people "in the Lord." Will someone please tell me what that senseless phrase means? I'll tell you what I think. It means we don't love that person. We are not ever called to love someone “in the Lord” but rather to love everyone "as the Lord" by which I mean "as we love the Lord." Didn't Jesus say that "whatsoever ye have done to the least of these my brethren ye have done unto me"?

Love is love is love, no matter to whom it is manifested and no matter how it is expressed.

What is love?, you may say. Read 1 Corinthians chapter 13. There has never been a better definition of what love is and what it does.

Who is love?, another might ask. God is love. Not "God has love", or "God is lovely" but God is love. Or, put another way, love is God. Love is my God and my God is love.

Whatever is done in love is right because God is love. Whatever is done in love succeeds because love never fails. And love never fails because God is love.

But, some may argue, you don't love your wife like you love your brother. Yes, I do. My love is manifest in different ways but my love is the same, or it is not love. There is only one God and there is only one love.