What Is Love Anyway?

God created us with an inherent need for love. It is even more important than the air we breathe and the food we eat.  Just as our physical body would eventually die without our physical needs being met, a lack of love will disrupt our ability to grow emotionally or spiritually.  The very reason for our existence is carved out of love – we were designed to receive and give love as the basis for all relationships (see Mark 12: 29-31).  Without love, we can never fulfill our God-given purpose. Furthermore, we will never be satisfied, emotionally healthy, or whole.

God used our parents to provide this much needed love before we were able to know Him personally. They were our first examples of how we would learn to interpret, give, and receive love in relationships.  The type and amount of love we received (or did not receive) in childhood will deeply affect our ability to love in adult relationships.  If our need for love was not adequately met, we will go through our adult life with a need for love and an empty heart.  We may also acquire countless false beliefs about love that will directly spill over into all our relationships.

Hands in shape of heartWhat Is Love Anyway?

The Bible teaches us multiple different types of what we in our culture might call “love.”  God included all of these in His creation of humanity to exhibit the fullness of His nature.  Yet when we as human beings introduce these into our relationships with other people, we often tend to miss the mark on what God intended.

  • Hesed – Inspiring Love. Through Christ, this is defined by love and loyalty that inspires merciful and compassionate behavior toward another person.  But In our hands, we sometimes make love and loyalty contingent upon the merciful and compassionate behavior of another person toward us.
  • Philia – Affectionate Love. This form of love doesn’t involve any passion or sexual impulse. It’s more seen as love between good friends or goodwill between us and someone we respect or admire. It finds its energy in what two people share in common.  But in our hands, once the common interest has faded, we tend to convey that we no longer need this relationship.
  • Eros – Romantic Love. Although this Greek term does not appear in the Bible, it is clearly portrayed in multiple examples.  God is very clear in His word when He defines this intense sexual desire that is to be shared exclusively by a husband and a wife.  Obviously, we have found innumerous ways to distort the beauty of this special form of love God created.
  • Storge – Family Love. This is the form of love that family members feel for each other.  It is most recognized as the love a parent has for their child. It’s a very strong bond that is not easily broken.  But in our hands, this can either morph into unhealthy forms of enmeshment, or sometimes will end in the face of unresolved conflict.
  • Pragma – Enduring Love. The Greek word “pragma” is where we get the English word “pragmatic.”  It’s a practical kind of love that stands the test of time.  As the opposite of eros where the passion burns white hot and fades quickly, pragma matures and grows over time into something truly special.
  • Philautia – Healthy Self-Love. This type of love refers to a healthy self-esteem and feeling of inner self-worth. When we find our identity and worth in Jesus, our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the world will be a reflection of His love.  Oftentimes, however, we tend to turn healthy self-love into unhealthy self-focus, self-absorption, and self-indulgence – all at the expense of our relationships with others.
  • Ludas – Playful Love. If you’ve ever been in love, you have no doubt felt this form of love.  It is the butterflies in your stomach, the quickened heartbeat, the anxiety you feel when you’re waiting for your loved one to walk through the door.  It’s the flirting and teasing and playing you do in the early stages of dating. The focus is usually more on fun rather than building the relationship.
  • Agape — Unconditional Love. Agape is by far the most special and most respectful of all the Greek types of love.  It is the kind of love Jesus refers to again and again throughout His ministry.  It is the form of love that sets our Christian faith apart from all other faith and beliefs systems.  It is a universal, unconditional, selfless love for others.  It involves caring more for others than for yourself.  To give agape love is to be like Jesus.  However, our ability to give agape love to others cannot exceed our transformation experience of being loved by Jesus when we least deserved it.

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Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated.  Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors.  We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxiety, depression, or relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered.   Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime.  Our non-profit counseling practice has an outstanding track record for over a decade helping men and women who are ready to move beyond anxiety, depression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives.  Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at drdave@lifetrainingcounseling.org