Love takes on varied flavors. The Greek words for love are indicative of that. In the English language, we “love” everything from biscuits to children! But, in our minds we understand there is a distinction between those kinds of love. If we had a language like Greek, it might not be as confusing about “how” we’re to love a particular person, or thing. Or, would it? …
Love takes on varied flavors. The Greek words for love are indicative of that. In the English language, we “love” everything from biscuits to children! But, in our minds we understand there is a distinction between those kinds of love. If we had a language like Greek, it might not be as confusing about “how” we’re to love a particular person, or thing. Or, would it?
None of us have a problem with éros. We immediately associate a romantic flavor to the word – boyfriend, lover, spouse. Same is true with philía. That’s a friendship, or a brotherly love. Got it. And then, we have storgē, that natural affection, like that felt by parents toward their children. Agápe, now that’s where many of us draw the line. We don’t have a problem with the “deeper sense of love,” but it’s the definition of the “unconditional love” that brings us pause.
In mentoring moments I’ll often ask a spouse, “Do you agápe your husband [or wife]?” Quite often, the response is, “Sure.” Once I explain to them the “unconditional love” aspect of the word, they begin to back-pedal the response.
It’s really easy to love our children unconditionally. But in most marriages, spousal love comes with “conditions.” And, it should. Even God put “conditional” allowances in Scripture for a spouse. But, He also wove into Scripture much about forgiveness, and even displayed it to all mankind in the most sacrificial manner.
Living an agápe kind of love is difficult, especially in marriage. It works best when one understands the full measure of forgiveness. When someone is incapable of forgiving, it is impossible to enjoy that particular flavor of love. People are going to disappoint. People are going to cause emotional and, at times even physical pain. God expects a husband AND a wife to be co-joined in this spirit of agápe. It makes it complicated when one party is constantly called to exercise forgiveness at extreme levels. The parent in God understands the unconditional necessity for His children. We continue to disappoint Him, much like our children will disappoint us. But, the Lord set boundaries for actions and responsibilities between a husband and wife. However, we are still called to love and pray for our spouses. It is the sacrificial agápe which must kick in and for which all Christians are called to love one another.
Even when a spouse is dishonorable in marriage, we are called to love – sacrificially, and forgiving. But, God does not expect us to live in a marriage where a spouse has been unfaithful or is harmful. Healing in broken marriages can take place when both parties are willing to work together to strengthen their marriage through the Word. However, there wouldn’t be anything really egregious to fix if the husband and wife practiced all the flavors of love.