Friday, July 22, 2011

1 Corinthians 13 What Love Is NOT

When we speak of love being all we need, love is perfect, love is enough we are speaking of Love as in agape.  We take the attributes of agape and place them in eros love—being a romantic, intimate, sexual love.  Growing up under the Christian umbrella (whether you are a believer or not) we here about agape love being an ideal that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud; and that it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and Love never fails.

This description of love is beautiful and passionate, but it is not intended to be used the same as eros. Where agape love is an action and/or being more than a feeling. With agape love we are called to do good and to have goodwill towards our fellow man.  If we are talking about agape being God’s love, then you must understand that it is just that, God’s love for us; a major component of God’s love for us is that it is unconditional.  

We as humans are incapable of the Christian agape because we are damaged and we cannot help but to place conditions on love. Our love has limits and our love isn’t for everyone, we choose who we love and give love to.  God’s love does not.  It is perfect, kind, unconditional, and never fails. 

This is were we as people in relationships often fail. Our expectations in our own minds as to what love is and what it will do for us is corrupted.  Eros love is more of a feeling, and feelings and human emotions are in constant flux.  Where agape can exist perfect because it is without this desire to feel something or have emotional highs, eros thrives on this.  

Eros is in constant need for attention, reciprocity, validation, and affection. 
We cannot love perfectly when our hearts our damaged.  If we say that our hearts pour out with love for someone else we must know that our love is also damaged and corrupted.  It is likened to a water fountain with a filter to make the water both pure and palatable—especially today we are all about the taste of our water; we spend hundreds of dollars each year individually buying bottled water rather than drinking plain potable tap water.  Now imagine if that fountain’s filter was damaged or not set properly; could it ever produce the sweet taste we enjoy from bottled water? And even if it were able to keep the taste that water would still be secretly improperly filtered and not truly pure; thus, fooling us and perhaps one day making us ill. 

Our hearts are damaged and continue to pump out love that is corrupted; an eros love that lies, cheats, and steals and will still look you in the eye and say, I love you.  And you will say how can love do this?  How can you say you love me and do this to me; that’s not love?  The answer is this, it is how eros love works.  If the romance is gone then it will look for a new one.  If the sex is no longer exciting then it will find one that is.  And you have probably said, I would never do that to someone I love.  I will tell you this, how often do you hurt God’s feelings?  God loves you and never does you wrong.  He’s died for you.  Haven’t you cheated on him?  Haven’t you lied to him? Haven’t you broken at least one of his commandments on a daily basis?  Yet we still tell him we love him.  Same goes for your parents.  We’ve all done and said things to our parents we are not proud of. We have gone against them, yet we tell them we love them.  Couldn’t they say to you, if you loved us you wouldn’t have done those things?

Here’s the problem. Because we regard eros love above agape (or even phileo love—friendship, brotherhood) we set ourselves up for failure.  Eros is the weakest form of love, because it is the most corruptible and based almost entirely on conditions.  There’s probably good reason people say, marry your best friend (not saying I agree with that, but there is  point to be made).
Ok, so now you’re asking, how do we fix our broken hearts and love and be loved purely?  Well, in all honesty, I can’t say that I know that.  I can say that the day you can recognize what agape love is and what eros love is, and be able to differentiate and separate the two in your heart and mind then you can see more clearly what you want from a relationship.  Do you want a parent/god person in your life to love you unconditionally without desiring much of them sexually, romantically? Or do you want someone who is filled with passion and romance who will be devoted to you romantically and sexually?  Or, are you willing to shoot for both?  

I will say this, women tend to want an agape type love and romance.  Women prefer stability from a man—even though they are very unstable creatures; and perhaps it is their instability that cries out for a man who is stable so that he may offer that to them.  

Men on the other hand prefer eros type love and romance.  Why?  Because, we spend a large part of our early lives learning to be men; and being a man requires you to not cry, not show affection or emotion.  To be strong and brave.  We do not cry with our friends, nor do we kiss and hug and hold each others hands in the manner that women do for each other.  Thus, when we find women who we can be affectionate with and we cling to her. We open up to her.  We make ourselves vulnerable. 

I guess you can infer from this that, men, if you want a woman to be happy with you then you are going to have to be like God.  God provides, he listens, he doesn’t pass judgment, and he is always, always, always there.  Women, if you want your man to be happy, then let him love you, don’t force anything with him.  Men need to slowly learn how to be vulnerable (let go of control)—unfortunately it is when you force them that they sometimes become violent or emotionally abusive, or sometimes completely shutdown and lock you out.  Your patience and affection will get him to open up. Your sweet kisses, your warm meals, and your loving nurturing words will make him feel like a child who wants to be held. 
Lastly, as I said earlier eros love is the weakest.  If you seek out agape and phileo in your life you will be surrounded by loved ones who truly support you and care for you.  This will give you confidence and confident people make great decision.  It is because we have been let down by our friends, family, and even our faith in God & humanity that we feel insecure.  This insecurity lends our hearts to believe that eros is the only thing that will save us; and thus, we end up in a relationship desperately seeking to find or create agape when all we’ve given or all they want is eros.  If today while reading this you are not happy with your family and/or friends or God, then fix those things first before you get into a long-term relationship. We don’t pick our best friends because of our feelings or emotions we have towards them—I didn’t even like my best friend most of the time, I thought he was a complete asshole; but you know what, he’s been my best friend for over 30 years now and it’s because of his genuine good character.  He’s loyal, he’s loving, and he’s generous.  And guess what, he’s showed those same attributes in his marriage.  If you seek out agape and phileo first you may find someone in those categories that can also give you eros.