LOVE times Seven- PLATO

With Valentine's day around the corner and red roses in every store front, love and romance are in the AIR.  Valentine's day has become a national phenomenon and a huge money making holiday.  This is a far cry from the origins of the 3rd century priest of Rome, Saint Valentine, who was martyred for marrying Christian couples and educating people on the Christian faith.  The root of his mission was a deep love for Christ and his people, and he paid the ultimate price.  You can read more about his life in the link above.


Although Saint Valentine is worthy of an entire blog post, today we're going to talk about this root of 'LOVE' in the Valentine's Day message.  It's a word we throw around A LOT these days and attribute love to many aspects of our lives.  For example, we 'love our pets' we love our shows, and we 'love' the things that bring us joy.  Typically we use the word love to denote something that brings us joy or pleasure.  Let's dig a little bit deeper in the root word of love, taken from the Greek word, 'AGAPE'.

The Greek Language is famous its rich depth of meaning and nuances.  Let's talk an example from famous philospher PLATO who wrote extensively on love.  He actually categorized them into SEVEN different forms or versions of what we consider love.  Let's look at 'em here.

  1. EROS-  This is the sexual or passionate love that we most often associate with romantic partners.  It's taken from the Greek Myth of Cupid, who is depicted as a blindfolded flying baby wielding a magical bow.  Kinda creepy right?!  Whomever Cupid would strike with his arrow would fall into a crazed and maddened state.  Logic out the window!  That person in 'EROS' would blindly seek after their love interest without abandon.  Sounds a little familiar to anybody who's ever fallen in love right?  Think about it, we FALL in love, there's a sense of losing oneself and losing all control.  LOVE HURTS
  2. PHILIA-  This is the friendship and goodwill we show respected friends and family.  Friendships are founded on PHILIA and are based on mutual trust, respect, and shared interests.  In fact the english language has over 100 words with the suffix philia denoting a strong connection to a particular field.  The most important aspect of PHILIA is the strong bond of companionship and dependability characterized by a true relationship.
  3. STORGE- This is love between family members.  These emotions are often built;  but sometimes it's not equal between members.  For example, a mother's love for her child is typically far greater than the baby can return to it's mother.  Most parents would do ANYTHING for their children, but most kids don't return that level of commitment or self-sacrifice.  Love takes time to learn!
  4. AGAPE-  This is the love made famous in the works of the New Testament.  The authors of the four Gospels and Epistles used AGAPE to discuss the universal love that GOD has for humanity.  Christian authors used various forms of love when discussing God, but AGAPE was one of the most popular.  In more modern context we can think of AGAPE similar to altruism, or the deep desire for good things to happen to other people.  It's a universal love  for nature, goodness itself, other people, and God.
  5. LUDUS- Is an uncommitted or playful love.  It can show itself in flirting, dancing, courting, or playfully interacting with strangers.  This is a no-strings-attached type of love that is undemanding and casual.  As with most other forms of love there are positives and negatives to having a playful and uncommitted love, but it's important to recognize that.  Be HONEST! What level of commitment are you ready to give or receive?
  6. PRAGMA-  is the most pragmatic of all the versions of love.  This is the duty bound, long-term interest form of love.  Often times couples begin in EROS, transition to PHILIA, then end up in PRAGMA.  Without those early days of crazed love and romance, shared interests and the responsibilities of life bind people together later in life.  Sometimes you might Love that person, but not actually like them!  
  7. PHILAFTIA-  And finally this is the love that focuses on your favorite person, YOURSELF.  The Love of the self can be both positive and negative.  We all need a healthy amount of self love and respect, but when taken too far we fall into hubris and pride.  The basis of a healthy individual is the proper amount of self-love.  It's said that we can't truly love another person until you love yourself.  It's so easy to fill our inner emptiness with another person, but they almost  ALWAYS FAILS to meet our expectation.  So PHILAFTIA is that proper self love which makes all our relationships better.

We could talk about LOVE all day!  Some say it's the basic essence of the entire universe.  What are you waiting for?  Dive IN!  

Love (agape kind:)


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