by Alexander Koshakji
The Greeks, who were better philosophers than us, were excellent at making distinctions. They had more than one word for love, such as Eros and Agape. Despite falling in the same category for love, they are polar opposites. Eros is the term the Greeks used to identify sexual passion, where as agape is used to identify selfless love. Simply, Eros is getting, Agape is giving.
This then begs the question, which of these terms is an elegant identification of true love? John 15:13 provides us with the answer: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” In this passage, Christ brings to light the definition of true love. The act of laying down one’s life for another is an act of giving; you’re giving your life in order for the other to keep his. Therefore, agape, which is giving, is the term for true love.
Unfortunately, our society has a distorted view of true love. Basically, they replace Agape with Eros. They consider a relationship that is physical, pleasure seeking to be one of love. To our secularistic society, if you do not have the “butterflies” in the stomach, the cloud nine, the feeling of love, you should move on. Also, according to society, if you are in pre-marital relationship, but not having intercourse, you are definitely going about the relationship all wrong. It has become what we can get for ourselves, instead of what we can give to others.
Just from talking to people and from my own experience, it is very difficult to maintain a strong relationship if it revolves around the physical aspect. When you are only concerned about being physical, it never really crosses your mind to get to know the person, and who he or she really is. Then by the time you are married, you come to the realization that this person is not who you thought they were, and that they do not share the same convictions as you do. Then what often follows are major disputes, and later divorce. In truth, the physical aspect, the eros, that now permeates many pre-marital relationships is a huge factor that leads to many divorces.
Selfless love, agape, is what keeps relationships strong and flourishing, and ultimatley contributes to a long lasting marriage. Inevitably, the feeling of love will pass, but that doesn’t mean the act of loving should. As one continues to go out of their way to serve their friends, girlfriend, spouse, they will find their relationship to be happier, to be more fulfilling. The mindset of always giving and serving will be instrumental in dealing with and overcoming times of hardship, for all relationships a some point or another face trials. Also, as we build our relationship on selflessness, we mirror Christ’s relationship with us, which is one that is immeasurable and will never end.