THREE KINDS OF LOVE
By Ernest O'Neill
Three Kinds of Love
Rev. Ernest O'Neill
I’d just like to summarize it really and it is easily summarized loved ones, because you can say that the difference between secular marriage and Christian marriage is one is getting and the other is giving and that’s it. Love is giving, it’s not getting and you can see that clearly outlined if you realize that the Greek language is much richer than the English language as you probably know and we have only one word for love and that covers Liz Taylor’s seventh husband and her attitude to her seventh husband. And that word love covers the attitude of a man or woman to their God, and it covers the attitude of a son to a father, and it covers even what a prostitute would have said to her on certain occasions. And it’s really a very poor way to describe the many facets of love.
Greek has three different words and the first one that I’d like you to look at it is the word “Eros” and it looks like that in Greek and in English letters it’s that. “Eros” it’s the name of that statue you remember, that is in Piccadilly in London. And “Eros” is the concept that is found there in that verse we looked at before in 1 Thessalonians 4:5 and it’s the word that gives rise to words like erotic. 1 Thessalonians 4:5 and Verse 3 you remember gives the syntax a little better, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor.” And then Verse 5, “Not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God.”
“Eros” is sexual love if it ought to even have the word love. It’s sexual love or sexual desire. It’s preoccupied with getting what it wants, emotional satisfaction or physical satisfaction or exhilaration and “Eros” is sexual love. It’s an utterly selfish thing that’s why really you had better put love in parenthesis or at least in quotes because you can hardly call it love because love is giving. The heart of erotic love is getting. It’s getting emotional satisfaction or exhilaration or physical satisfaction or exhilaration for yourself and that is the basis of what 80% maybe of marriages and that’s why the seven year itch becomes a joke, and that’s why the 45 year old running around after the secretaries is a joke. Because, there comes a time in marriage where that is not the center of the relationship at all and so “Eros” is no basis for marriage because it’s a preoccupation with getting for yourself.
The second type of love is “Philia”. It looks like that and comes out in Philadelphia you remember, the love of brothers and that’s really what it is. It’s the love of two people for each other because they have the same interests. So it’s common interest. Two men could have it for each other because they both like football, because they both like fishing and it’s a common interest thing. They’re drawn together – many of us had those experiences in school, many of us have friends who are drawn together with us because we have a common interest.
It’s still a selfish thing because you – it only lasts as long as the common interest is there and that’s the kind of love that is hinted at in 1 Corinthians 7:12-13. 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, “To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him.” If it was just “Philia” love, of course they’d divorce immediately because they’d have nothing in common and “Philia” love runs out after she ceases to take an interest in his bowling, or he ceases to take an interest in the children, or they both cease to play tennis together, or they both cease to be interested in building a home, or building the house together. And so “Philia” is a selfish love and is preoccupied with something in the other person that you’re interested in.
The only love that really works is “Agape” love and it looks like that in English letters and is the kind of love that is talked about in Romans 5:5, and it’s the kind of love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13. And Romans 5:5 runs like this, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” “Agape” love is a gift from God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit, but not arbitrarily. But that love is given to any person who is willing to obey God, any person who is willing to die to what they want and what they think they should have and is willing to want what God wants. God then sheds abroad in your heart “Agape” love.
It’s the love that Jesus had for a leper. He looked at the leper with the withered flesh and in no way was that leper useful to him emotionally or physically. In no way had that leper anything in common with him and yet Jesus’ heart was filled with God’s love for that leper. It’s a miraculous desire to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and really see things from where they see them, really understand things as they understand them, really feel for them. That’s what love is.