What is Love?

A few days ago I was asked to make a comment on a facebook page concerning a public venue that was about to host a Christian conference. Apparently some militant people, who label themselves LBGTIQ, swamped the page with hate mail, condemning the venue for giving breathing space to “hateful Christians who object to same sex marriage,” even though this topic was not on the agenda. We were asked to counter the attack with positive posts for the venue.

So many issues are touched on in this incident. The first is the apparent hypocrisy of people who say they have a right to believe what they believe, while insisting others with an alternative worldview should not be allowed to express it. These people say they should be allowed to “love” whomever they want, but what they actually mean is “have intimate sexual relationships with” whomever they want. Some even insist this is what Jesus meant when He taught that we should love one another.

loveEnglish is a rather limited language when it comes to the language of love. While homophiles, who are English speakers, claim Jesus’ encouragement to love everyone included same sex relationships, they conveniently ignore the biblical teachings on homosexuality. The ancient Greeks had five words that can be translated as love and three of them are in The Bible. The one Jesus mostly used is agape, and this has nothing to do with erotic love, which is what the Greek word eros is all about. Erotic love is always described in The Bible as being the physical expression of love between a husband and a wife. There is no other sexual love that the God of The Bible condones.

It is an insult to the Christian faith to claim Jesus condoned homosexuality. And it is a shame some Christians feel they can step outside biblical teachings and take it upon themselves to condone this practice. They are virtually condemning people who are attracted to partners of the same sex to far less than the Father wants for them.love3 God designed the uniquely complimentary sexual organs of His creatures and He gave clear instructions for their proper use when it comes to people. Just as He told us to keep our minds on godly things, He also expects us to use our sexual organs for activity within His clearly outlined, planned purposes.

The love Jesus was talking about is a very different type of love to erotic love. There is a word in the Old Testament that talks about erotic love and it comes from the Hebrew word to boil. The Song of Solomon in the Old Testament has plenty to say about this sort of love, but Jesus was talking about agape love, which is about benevolence and charity, mercy and compassion. This is the love that puts the beloved before self. This is the love God wants us to have towards our fellow human beings. The Christian imperative is to help other people see their desperate need for salvation. The most loving thing we can do as Christians is to share the gospel with others. This has nothing whatsoever to do with sharing another person’s bed.

Another kind of love the Greeks had a specific word for is brotherly/sisterly love, which the Greek word phileo describes. I find this is the love I have for most people to whom I am close. I can love my friends deeply; I enjoy their company and look forward to our times together, without ever needing to include sexual relations in the mix. I think it’s sad that when one of my girlfriends and I were particularly close other people thought we were gay. Why would others think that loving someone of the same sex necessarily leads to sexual activity? Perhaps the answer is that we live in an age where sex is worshiped.

Sex has become a dominant constant in a world that is constantly told we should believe in nothing more than biological evolution and the survival of the fittest. Sex is no longer seen as something private and special between a husband and wife. It is now presented as simply a biological imperative, not much different to hunger. In today’s world even afternoon TV shows, which have traditionally been time-slots for children, openly discuss sexual activity, while children as young as five are being accused of sexual harassment. What a tragic time we live in, innocence is being eroded by in-your-face eroticism.

love2The last Greek word for love I want to mention is storge, which is family love. Although this word is not in The Bible, this is the love that is at the basis of our human society. Family is not a human construct, it is a divinely designed institution. Human beings are distinct from all other creatures because God made us in His own image (Gen 1:26) to become His eternal children. From the very beginning, God designed human families and He intended them to function with the bond of familial love and trust we will share with Him throughout eternity.

God made Adam and Eve sexually complementary, He created them male and female and He blessed their unique union with children. Marriage is a divinely ordained relationship in which two people can produce the most miraculous of all human creations – another human being (Gen 4:1). God has designed marriage as the core of the human family and it is this relationship that God points to as the core of the eternal family.

Throughout The Bible, believers are referred to as the Bride of the Redeemer. It is the marriage covenant that God refers to when He describes His relationship with the body of believers who are brought back into relationship with Him through His Son. This is a relationship based on love, and it is this sort of love Jesus came to Earth to reveal through His life, death and resurrection. He loved us so much that He gave His life that we might have eternal life. To equate this with homosexual relations is an insult to the faith that has changed the world through its insistence that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

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