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Archive for Saturday, February 11, 2012

Faith Forum: Is love in a religious sense different than in a romantic sense?

February 11, 2012

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Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader and director of media and communications, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:

Aside from the Bible, the book that has most shaped my understanding of the various kinds of love is “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis. I can do little better than to suggest the reader who wants to think clearly about human love get a copy and read it carefully and thoughtfully. (Actually, this recommendation would apply to the Bible, as well.)

Lewis’ four loves are Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity. Eros is the term Lewis uses to describe what we think of as romantic love. It is a love between two people, in which each person has “a delighted pre-occupation” with the other. There often is a sexual element involved, but for a man in love, it is less important that she is a woman than that she is herself — he is completely delighted with her as the person she is, first and foremost. True Eros doesn’t just want to possess the other person sexually— it simply wants the Beloved.

I’ll assume that the term “religious love” refers to what Lewis calls Charity — the ultimate “Gift-love,” a love based not on a need that needs to be filled, but rather on a desire to give to the beloved. It is the love of God toward human beings. This sort of love is risky. Lewis writes, “Even if it were granted that insurances against heartbreak were our highest wisdom, does God Himself offer them? Apparently not. Christ comes at last to say, ‘Why has thou forsaken me?’”

This love is the love that moved God to send his only son, knowing that he would be rejected and killed. It is the sort of love we show toward others when we desire only to give and get nothing in return. It is the love that shows the image of God in us.

— Doug Heacock can be reached at doug.heacock@gmail.com.

Marshall Lackrone, pastor, Calvary Temple Assembly of God, 606 W. 29th St. Terrace:

The Apostle John wrote that God is a spirit “and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 (KJV) 24).

The Apostle Paul dedicated an entire chapter about love, I Corinthians 13. In the first verse he wrote: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT)).

Because the New Testament was written in the Greek language three very different words were used to describe love, and each word means something different from the other word used.

“Agape” is the Greek word for the love man has for God. John wrote about the love of the world in John 15:19 and he used the Greek word “Phileo” for love. Then there is one more important Greek word for love, “Timios.” The author of Hebrews writes about marriage as “honorable, faithful, precious and highly esteemed.” To quote Hebrews 13:4 (NLT) 4: “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”

Scripture describes many kinds of love. Love for God is of the greatest value, but this is measured by our love for others. And on a real human level, our love for our marriage partner can be very closely related to our love for God. As we hope to become one with God someday, we become one in the marriage union today.

— Send e-mail to Marshall Lackrone at lackrone@sunflower.com.

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