Love as defined in the Webster Dictionary means “(1) Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties,( 2) attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers, (3.)affection based on admiration, benevolence or common interest.” That definition of love is in the context of affectionate relationship between one person to another which is interpersonal love. A love that is directed other than a person is impersonal love. A person may also love an inanimate object, goal or endeavor and other things for his own gratification. Interpersonal love may be a mutual feeling between persons, but a feeling of one person may not be reciprocated by another person. This is unrequited love.
Ancient Greeks categorized love into four types which are eros, philios, estorge and agape. Eros is a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. Philios is a dispassionate love such as loyalty to a friend, family or community. Estorge is natural affection such as that felt by parents to offspring, and Agape is a divine love or love of the soul.
Erotic or romantic love is the most widely talked about type of love because it concerns about the relationship between two persons of opposite sex. There are instances though that a romance may involve same sex persons. A situation may arise when a man is instantly attracted to a woman or he feels in love at her at first sight. And there is love that develops overtime through interaction or communication between two persons. A feeling of attraction or affection may diminish or lost because of several reasons or intervening factors. A relationship that just starts with friendship may develop into a full blown romance in the long run.
A man’s carnal desire to a woman that is not accompanied with an intention to commit to her is not love but lust. Love is a positive feeling while lust is not. But lust can also be a component of love. A man might just be sexually attracted with a woman at first, but a frequent exposure to her might later evolve into a genuine feeling of affection and commitment for both of them.
Since time immemorial, people have recognized love’s contribution to our societies. Love is an instrument for the perpetuation of life in this world. In connection with it, societies have come up with the institution of marriage to cement the bond of relationship between a man and a woman, to give that relationship a legal or religious recognition and to protect it under existing laws.
Love has many forms and extends beyond romantic relationship. Philios is a dispassionate love to a friend, family or community. It requires virtue, equality and familiarity. The act of charity is an example of an expression of this love. People driven by their benevolent desire unselfishly use their own resources to help other people in need. Other people help still others because it delights them to see their fellowmen or friends become successful and happy.
Parents and their offspring have natural instinct to feel affection and attachment to each other. A mother’s love to her child drives her to protect it from disease, hunger and danger that may imperil its life. Love is the mutual feeling of parents and children to motivate them in the building of a better and a harmonious family.
It is a fact of life that all living creatures to include humans will die. Since ancient times people have created the notion that life continues even after death. They also created the belief in a god to complement such an idea. The love of god or agape is a feeling or act that would cleanse one’s soul in this world and the hereafter. Christians believe that agape is mutual feeling of love between God and man. God loves his people and, therefore, they should also love Him in return.
Christian theologians said that God is the source of love and that God is love. This statement is supported by Bible verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Jesus said in Mathew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” In that statement Jesus told us to even go beyond the frailties of our human nature to do good to other people whether they are our friends or not.
In the Bible, a certain lawyer in order to tempt Jesus asked what he should do to inherit an eternal life. Jesus has this answer in Luke 10:27:”Love the Lord thy God with all of your heart and with all of your soul, with all of your strength and with all of your mind, and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” So the key to an eternal life according to Jesus is LOVE.
Some people believe in God others do not because they think that believing in an unseen, imaginary all-powerful being is absurd. But in our short stay as temporary resident of this world, what would we lose if we believe in Him?