There is only one word for love in the English language: L-O-V-E. But did you know that there is more than one kind of love? There are also many different expressions of love. We know this to be true in our everyday experience:
- You may love your family or a friend.
- You may love your dog or cat.
- You may love a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- You may be married and love your spouse.
Is it appropriate or right to express your love in the same way in each of the relationships listed above? Hopefully NOT! There is more than one kind of love – even if you can’t (yet) give each type of love its own name. Like space and time, LOVE has FOUR DIMENSIONS. To name these “FOUR LOVES” we’ll need to change languages. The New Testament in the Bible was written in ancient Greek, a very expressive tongue which has no fewer than four words for love:
AGAPE = aγάπη
PHILIA = φιλία
EROS = ἔρως
STORGE = στοργή
Each of these words has a different form or expression of love in mind. Relationship is a continuing connection with another person, Each of the different forms of love is the basis for a different type of relationship connection.
AGAPE– The foundational love, without conditions. It should be the basis for every human relationship. It is like the dimension we call WIDTH, which we could designate as East and West on the compass. As the old hymn says, “There is a wideness to God’s Mercy.” “He removes our sin from us as far as East from West.”
PHILIA– This is mutual love; trust as the primary condition. This selective kind of love is the basis for friendship. It is like the dimension we call LENGTH, which we may designate as North and South on the compass. We should go to great lengths to find and keep a trustworthy friend.
EROS– This is intimate love. Exclusive lifetime commitment between opposite sex lovers is the condition. This exclusive love is the basis for marriage. It is like the dimension we could call DEPTH/HEIGHT. This love is emotionally deep and takes us to great heights of passion.
STORGE– This is affection, love’s language. We use it to show how we feel about another. It is expressed diversely with each form of love, and in each type of relationship. It is like the fourth dimension of TIME, which is present with all of the others, but experienced differently from the perspective of each dimension.