Is Love Mushy?

I remember being a young boy and cringing at on screen kisses in movies and TV shows. Was I the only one? Oh, come on. I can’t be the only one! Anyone?!?!

Well, anyway, I think as Valentine’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the confusing messages we send and receive about love. It is such a broad and multi-faceted term. And we and our kids miss much of the depth of love when there is just one word we use.

The Greeks had it right when they used several words for love. See if any of these would make it so much easier for our kids to differentiate other kinds of love from all that mushy stuff.

Let’s get this out of the way. Éros is love that is the mushy kind. And God, the creator of this kind of love along with all the others, has much to say about it. But for this newsletter, enough said.

Philia is, according to sources “affectionate regard, friendship”, usually “between equals”. Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly Love because it includes this Greek root word.  Apparently, their football fans have not fully appreciated the meaning of their city’s name. BFF is shorthand for philia love. And there is nothing wrong with having some close friends.

Agápe means “love: especially charity; the love of God for man and of man for God” This is also the love we have for others because we and others are both loved by God. The best example of this self-sacrificing love is Jesus Christ. When we talk about encouraging others and building them up, we are talking about practicing agape love.

Our hope, as kids exchange Valentine’s Day cards, is that they realize they can love their classmates. All of them. And it has nothing to do with mush. If they do not have affectionate regard or friendship (Philia) they can express care for others expecting nothing in return (Agape). It does not come naturally to do this, but Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to explain that there is more to love than mush.

In His Children’s Service, Robert C. Boyd

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