Blog Post

Understanding and Navigating Different Types of Love

What is love? Have you ever noticed that the English word love can be utilized in various ways that makes it difficult to distinguish the different meanings? For instance, I love God, my husband, and chocolate. Another individual may say, “I love movies, traveling, and my kids.” I hope the love for this person’s kids is experienced differently than the way he/she loves to travel and watch movies! The love we have for things we enjoy is different than the love we experience in our relationships.

Is Love an Emotion or a Feeling?

Many believe that it is something that you can change. Love is a choice not a feeling, something that you decide to feel for another individual. There are several types of love, yet this blog will focus on the four types of love identified in the Bible. The way we love our parents differs from the way we love our siblings, friends, intimate partners, co-workers, church members, etc.

Defining the Different Types of Love

Within a marital relationship, what kind of love should a wife have for her husband? Or a husband for his wife? What does this type of love look like? The New Testament was originally written almost entirely in Greek, a language that describes four different words for love: eros, philia, storge, and agape. In this blog, we will define and examine each type of love and understand the superior form of love called agape.

 

Eros – Physical Attraction

  • Eros refers specifically to physical attraction or romantic love. It is the only Greek term for love that is not used directly in Biblical Scripture. God’s design for this type of love is specifically between a husband and wife. Love for our partner is an intimate exchange that we should not experience with siblings, parents, friends, pastors, professors, etc. Eros is the type of love that involves physical intimacy in a marital relationship. We often hear in couples therapy, “I don’t love him anymore”. Again, because love is not an emotion, it’s not something that you can turn off. It is a daily choice to love your spouse. If you are struggling in this area, couples therapy can help you navigate your way back to loving your spouse. Take this first step…turn to your spouse and tell them that you choose to love him/her and point out their strengths and what you appreciate about your partner. Focus on the good and turn away from the negativity.

 

Storge – Natural Affection

  • Storge refers to natural affection translated to familial love, such as the love a parent feels toward a child, or the love between siblings. The word storge appears in Biblical Scripture twice as astorgos, meaning the opposite – without love or without natural affection. A Biblical example of astorgos is when Cain murdered Abel. In the present time, this would translate to mothers who are faced with the difficult decision of aborting their unborn child. When a mother and father experience the birth of their firstborn, the natural affection they both feel for their child is exactly what we are referring to when describing storge. A child’s natural love for their parents is instant. When God provides siblings in a family unit, they share a natural affection towards each other despite their differences.

 

Philia – Strong Affection

  • Philia is defined as strong affection and most commonly described as kindness between friends. A Biblical example is when Jesus wept at Lazarus’s gravesite in John 11:36, “Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’” When people consider themselves as close friends, philia is the affection they have for each other. When we describe a marital relationship, we determine that it is romantic love, or eros. However, we forget that marriage is the union between two best friends. Philia is a great description of what marriage is meant to be: a deep and close friendship. Your spouse should be your best friend! That’s why it’s disappointing to hear people claim that they are closer to their friends than they are to their spouse. In couples therapy, it is difficult when we hear, “I can’t wait to go away with my friends, I need a break from my husband/wife”. If you feel this way, we suggest that you pray that God increases the philia in your relationship.

 

Agape – A Superior Love

  • The last form of love and the most mentioned in the New Testament is called agape. This is an unconditional love that Jesus Christ has for all His children. No matter what choices you make in your life, right or wrong, God’s love for you does not waver. This type of love comes with sacrifice. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. This is the ultimate sacrifice, therefore is claimed as a superior love – agape.

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