C.S. Lewis · Friendship · Love · Sex

What is Love?

Many times in life I go through the day thinking I was born in the wrong era. Do you ever feel that way? Technology has afforded us many things that are amazing, but one of the places I keep seeing myself is on the streets of England during various points of history. There are several reasons for this, and I’m hoping to visit there one day, at least bask in what England once was.

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One reason for “the across the pond” desire is brought on by one of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis. Most of us know him for the Chronicles of Narnia Series, and specifically for The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. C. S. Lewis was much more than a children’s author. He was a professor, apologist, and high academic teacher at both Oxford and Cambridge. One of his most interesting books, which pertains to Valentine’s Day is The Four Loves. The book is always better than the blog, but let me tease out some of the basic ideas for you.

Lewis takes the word love, and breaks it down into four categories. He does so by looking at the Greek (old world Greek) words for love. The first love is affectionate love. It’s the Greek word storge. It’s defined in the Greek Lexicon as “affection, especially of parents to offspring.” Lewis says it could also be offspring to parents. Lewis says of affectionate love that “is the most instinctive, in the sense the most animal, of the loves; its jealousy is proportionately fierce (pg. 46).” I felt this love the first day each of my girls was born. It’s amazing how a person who you just met seconds ago, would give you a feeling that you would kill for this child. You do not get that urge when meeting a stranger.

The second kind of love is friendship. It’s the Greek word philia. Shockingly, this is where Philadelphia gets part of its name. Lewis says, “Friendship is the least biological of our loves (pg. 63).” Friendships form not as some sexual attraction or of biological means, but of preferences or pure proximity. I have several friends who are indispensable to my life. Guys I can call on at any time, who know me, know my failures and talents. Men who can help me when I’m down, and celebrate with me in my successes.

The third love is eros. Lewis tells us that it is that kind of love lovers have for each other. It can be, but it is not limited to sexual love. It can come out as pure passion for each other. He says, “Sexuality may operate without Eros, or as a part of Eros (pg. 92).” He also notes that not all sexual acts are eros. He says, “Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it [sex], the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved (pg. 94).” One of my favorite lines in the book comes here where he says, “Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman (pg. 94).”

The last love is charity. The agape love. It is love that is unconditional. This word was used in the Old Testament, and by the Greek poet Homer. This love is the love which originates from God Himself to man. This love is a general love which can be thought of loving our fellow man in general. It is the love God has for us as it is the root word for love in the famous John 3:16. Lewis calls this love the highest form of love.

So, that was interesting, but what practical application does it have? I think that the importance here is to understand what the different loves are so that we can be sure that we are appropriately using each of the loves in their intended way. We need to be careful not to mix them up in our different relationships. In other words, the love I have for a friend should look different from the love I have for my wife, which should look different from the love I have for my child or neighbor. If we get any of these confused, it can hurt the relationships in our lives. All four loves are important, and there is a time and place for all of them.

I will leave you with this one quote from Lewis’ book: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken (pg. 120).” We will face hurt if we love. But without the hurt, we would not have experienced the love.

Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, Pa 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes  or Googleplay.