The Four Loves
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." (John 13:35, NIV)????? Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8, ESV)
CONSIDER: Name each love, describe it, give an example from scripture, and note how it can "go bad". Note that each is topped off with Agape to prevent the love from going bad. Discuss Agape, then jump back into friendship in depth, with questions to answer.
Storge (affection, such as among family members)
Storge (Pronounced: STOR-jay) is a term for love in the Bible that you may not be familiar with. This Greek word describes family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters.
Many examples of family love are found in Scripture, such as the mutual protection among Noah and his wife, the love of Jacob for his sons, and the strong love the sisters Martha and Mary had for their brother Lazarus. An interesting compound word using storge, "philostorgos," is found in Romans 12:10, which commands believers to "be devoted" to one another with brotherly affection.
- Romans 12:10: "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." (ESV) [philostorgos, storge]
Both in its Need and its Gift form, affection then is liable to "go bad", and to be corrupted by such forces as jealousy, ambivalence and smothering.
Philia (brotherly love, close friendship)
John 20:2 "So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”"
Philia (philía, Greek: φιλία) is the love between friends as close as siblings in strength and duration. The friendship is the strong bond existing between people who share common values, interests or activities. Lewis immediately differentiates friendship love from the other loves. He describes friendship as "the least biological, organic, instinctive, gregarious and necessary...the least natural of loves". Our species does not need friendship in order to reproduce, but to the classical and medieval worlds it is a higher-level love because it is freely chosen.
Lewis explains that true friendships, like the friendship between David and Jonathan in the Bible, are almost a lost art. He expresses a strong distaste for the way modern society ignores friendship. He notes that he cannot remember any poem that celebrated true friendship like that between David and Jonathan, Orestes and Pylades, Roland and Oliver, Amis and Amiles. Lewis goes on to say, "to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it".
Growing out of companionship, friendship for Lewis was a deeply appreciative love, though one which he felt few people in modern society could value at its worth, because so few actually experienced true friendship.
Nevertheless, Lewis was not blind to the dangers of friendships, such as its potential for cliquiness, anti-authoritarianism and pride.
Eros (between lovers)
- Song of Solomon - In 1 Corinthians, Paul warns young believers against succumbing to immorality. Eros (Pronounced: AIR-ohs) is the Greek word for sensual or romantic love. Promiscuity of all types was rampant in ancient Greek culture and was one of the obstacles the apostle Paul had to battle when planting churches in the eastern Mediterranean. In 1 Corinthians, Paul warns young believers against succumbing to immorality. Even though the term eros is not found in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon vividly portrays the passion of erotic love. The Bible's prohibition of sex outside of marriage necessarily limits erotic love to married couples.
love in the sense of "being in love" or "loving" someone, as opposed to the raw sexuality of what he called Venus: the illustration Lewis used was the distinction between "wanting a woman" and wanting one particular woman – something that matched his (classical) view of man as a rational animal, a composite both of reasoning angel and instinctual alley-cat.
Eros turns the need-pleasure of Venus into the most appreciative of all pleasures; but nevertheless Lewis warned against the modern tendency for Eros to become a god to people who fully submit themselves to it, a justification for selfishness, even a phallic religion.
Agape (unconditional love)
Agape (also called Charity) is the love that exists regardless of changing circumstances. Lewis recognizes this selfless love as the greatest of the four loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue to achieve. The chapter on the subject focuses on the need to subordinate the other three natural loves – as Lewis puts it, "The natural loves are not self-sufficient" – to the love of God, who is full of charitable love, to prevent what he termed their "demonic" self-aggrandizement. 1 John 4:8 "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."