[Rector]

Love

 

When our son Paul was thinking of getting married, I gave him the usual line to settle the matter. "If you love her, marry her." Of course, he came back with that oft asked question, "What is love?" It's a good question, and of course, he had me struggling for an answer. Mind you, there is the view that men can't really answer the question, for only women have the sensitivity to delve the mystery of this emotion. It is even argued that the emotion cannot really be discussed, but only revealed in art, poetry or the like.

Part of the problem we have is that the word "love" is used to describe a number of emotions. For instance, we use the word "love" to translate a number of different Greek words in the New Testament. So, even the ancient Greeks were better equipped to describe the "love" emotions than we are today. For us, the word "love" is used to describe different emotions and so the context must determine its meaning. Consider some of the meanings we give to this wonderful word.

There is friendship love. We will sometimes say "I love my best friend." Here we are using the word to express an emotion of mutual identity with another person. This is a person we have a common mind with, we feel comfortable with them, able to debate with, share with in safety.

There is family love. We will sometimes say "I love my mother." Here we are using the word to express a feeling of commonality and responsibility. We may actually say, "I don't like my father, but I love him." There may be no common mind attracting us, but we are attracted by our common blood and by a sense of obligation to the one who gave us life.

There is sexual love. We will sometimes use the word "love" to describe sexual attraction. Teenage love-affairs and pop music constantly use the word "love" to mean passion. So here the word is used to describe the deep desire for union with another, possessing and being possessed physically.

Then there is affectionate love. We will sometimes use the word "love" to describe the deep and abiding mutual affection and bonding sensitivity that exists between partners in marriage, between "lovers".

Finally, there is Christ-like love. We will sometimes use the word in the sense of "brotherly love" between believers, or God's love toward his children. When we say ,"God is love", we are saying God is merciful and forgiving. So, here we are using the word to describe a warm acceptance of others, not for what they are, but for their potential in Christ. Such love promotes forgiveness.