In his book, "Marriage Is for Love", Richard L. Strauss says: "Like maturity, love is a process rather than a state. People don't actually 'fall in love'; they grow into it instead." (1998:16)
One of the most common expressions made in relationships is "I'm in love." In most cases, the people who make this comment misconstrue what genuine love is; either they do not understand what genuine love is or they misinterpret what they are feeling or experiencing as genuine love. So, what does it mean to be in love with someone?
In the Greek Language, three different words are used for love: eros, philia, and agape.
Eros. This is human, sexual, and selfish love, or love based on erotic feelings. In this kind, one looks for some characteristic in the object of love that pleases him/her. It could be charm, charisma, beauty, wealth, talent, etc. However, if this person loses that characteristic, the love of the other party dies.
This is the kind of love some men profess when their motive is to have sex with a woman (2 Sam. 13:1-21). Immediately they get to sleep with the woman, the relationship ends, or as long as the woman continues to give them sex they maintain the relationship.
Philia. This level of love is more of friendship. This is the type of love Peter claimed for Christ when the latter asked if he (Peter) loved Him (Jn. 21:15, 16).
Unlike eros which considers "my" happiness only, philia seeks "our" happiness, where the relationship survives as long as each of the parties fulfills their part of the friendship.
A relationship cannot survive unless love has grown to at least the philia level. However, where one party fails to contribute his/her share or where unusual stress is introduced (eg. financial crisis, serious illness), the relationship may collapse unless one of them has agape love.
Agape. This is the highest kind of love. It is God-given. When the Bible says "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." (Jn. 3:16), it is referring to agape love. This type of love is the one described in 1 Corinthians 13.
One with agape love will not be pulled away from a relationship just because the partner is in financial crisis or is seriously ill. It is the kind of love that is able to confess in word and deed "for better for worse... in sickness and in health... for richer, for poorer... till death do us part." Nevertheless, to possess agape love doesn't mean that one won't possess a certain degree of eros and philia, but agape overshadows these two.
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