Friday, September 28, 2007

The Greatest of These

I love my husband.

I love Gerber Daises.

Same word, different meaning...right?

Limited by our language, we often use the same word to describe two very different types of emotion. 1Corinthians 13 describes characteristics of love, but they aren't necessarily the way you'd feel around or about a gerber daisy...

Yet again, here's another reason why we should all be Greek. They have four words for "love:" affection, friendship, eros, and charity.

Affection: (storge, στοργη) is fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance. It is described as the most natural, emotive, and widely diffused of loves: natural in that it is present without coercion; emotive because it is the result of fondness due to familiarity; and most widely diffused because it pays the least attention to those characteristics deemed "valuable" or worthy of love and, as a result, is able to transcend most discriminating factors.

Friendship: (philia, φιλια) is a strong bond existing between people who share a common interest or activity. It is the least natural of loves; i.e., it is not biologically necessary to progeny like either affection (e.g., rearing a child), eros (e.g., creating a child), or charity (e.g., providing for a child). It has the least association with impulse or emotion. In spite of these characteristics, it was the belief of the ancients that it was the most admirable of loves because it looked not at the beloved (like eros), but it looked towards that "about"--that thing because of which the relationship was formed.

Eros: (έρως) is love in the sense of 'being in love'. This is distinct from sexuality, and is "indifferent." This is good because it promotes appreciation of the beloved regardless of any pleasure that can be obtained from them. It can be bad, however, because this blind devotion has been at the root of many of history's most abominable tragedies.

Charity: (agapē, αγαπη) is an unconditional love directed towards one's neighbor which is not dependent on any lovable qualities that the object of love possesses. Agape is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. It is recognized as the greatest of loves, and sees it as a specifically Christian virtue. The chapter [in C.S. Lewis' book The Four Loves] on the subject focuses on the need of subordinating the natural loves to the love of God, who is full of charitable love. "He is so full, in fact, that it overflows, and He can't help but love us."

You didn't really think I'd research and post this, did you Steve Weber? :)