Tag Archives: dating

Love in Four Dimensions

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.

What Is Love?

What is love? Valentine’s Day makes this a pertinent question.  My favorite writer on the subject didn’t get married until he was 58, and even then it was for charitable, not romantic, reasons. 

C. S. Lewis married Joy Gresham in a government office to provide her with British citizenship.  A few months later Joy was diagnosed with cancer, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.  Jack, as Lewis was known by his friends, chose to love and care for Joy.  The feeling between them grew, and nearly a year after the marriage of convenience there was a hospital wedding presided over by a clergyman from the Church of England.  “Till death do we part” was a potent reality.  Joy left the hospital to convalesce.  It was not until this point that she moved in with Jack.  God worked and Joy’s cancer went into remission.  Jack and Joy lived happily for three more years, until the cancer returned and she died.  Jack wept.

C. S. Lewis understood love as no one else whom I’ve read on the subject.  At first this understanding was philosophical and academic.  He wrote The Four Loves, a magnificent work describing the different types of love and their corresponding relationships.  Lewis used Greek words to define each love.  “Agape’ “ is God’s unconditional gift love, exemplified in Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.  “Philos” is the love between family and friends, called “the milk of human kindness” by Plato.  “Eros” is erotic or sexual love, designed by God to exist between one man and one woman for life.  Finally, “storge’ “ is what we would call “affection”.  It is found in each of the previous three loves, expressing itself appropriately in different relationships.

Lewis’s relationship with Joy demonstrated the truth of his philosophical approach to love. Follow the progression through these Four Loves. Lewis began by showing Joy Gresham God’s kind of love (agape’). His actions were not based on passion or feeling. His decision to marry was something he did for her benefit, not his own. When she became sicker, Lewis continued to show compassion by helping her. The friendship (philos) between Jack and Joy deepened, affection grew (storge’), feelings became stronger. Even though Joy was at the point of death, Jack wanted to marry her “in the eyes of God.” They had arrived at a point in their relationship where they wanted nothing and no one else but each other (eros). They lived together as man and wife and presumably enjoyed intimacy until Joy died.

What is love?  It is indeed a “many splendored thing,” but fundamentally love is a genuine concern for another person.  Love is the commitment to act in the best interest of the beloved, regardless of self-interest.  So, the next time you are attracted to someone, ask yourself:  is this really love?  Then don’t act on the basis of your desire or feeling.  Do what is right, and what is best, for the one you love.

Give Them Space and Time


People need space, time to make their own decisions. God grants each of us freedom; we must do the same for one another.

If you are in a relationship. You need to trust the other person. Don’t automatically assume the worst. If she hasn’t called or texted in the last hour, it doesn’t mean she’s cheating on you! If you cannot trust each other, why are you in the relationship?

Give him space to have his own friends. You don’t have to be together every free waking moment! When you give each other space, the relationship will mature and improve. If your partner is cheating, it’s a heart problem, which wouldn’t have been solved by keeping them on a short leash. In fact, untrusting relationships breed duplicity. If he’s going to cheat, he’s going to cheat. Give him space and you’ll discover it soon enough. Then end the relationship and give him all the space he needs.

When you are in a position of authority, it is important to seek to understand and maintain sensitivity to those under your leadership.

As a parent, you must lead your child, not dominate her. Teach, direct, punish when necessary, but give her increasing amounts of space to be her own person. This child is not your “mini-me.” He is a unique individual, created in God’s image. God grants people freedom, so you must allow your child to be free. The number and types of choices you offer a child should correspond to the amount of responsibility they demonstrate. 

You must allow a child to make mistakes, then let them deal with the consequences. If your student is not doing well in school, don’t jump to the conclusion that the teacher is doing a poor job. Discover if your student is making an effort to learn. Is he behaving respectfully? Is he doing the work assigned? is he listening in class? If so, find out if he has a learning disability. Does he need glasses? Does he have a hearing problem? Work WITH the teacher. Don’t fall for the common excuse, “That teacher doesn’t like me.” Find out from the teacher, apart from your student, if there is a personality conflict. If the teacher is frustrated with your student, they may need to express it more objectively, rather than letting feelings determine their actions. Either way, find out WHY this teacher doesn’t like your angel? Your student may be responding to the teacher with disrespect, which should never be acceptable.

If your teen shoplifts, take him back to the store and make him give the item back. If he is arrested, it is not the end of the world. If he sits in jail for awhile, he may be able to better understand that what he did should never be repeated. If you run to the rescue, the teenager may only feel that they are impervious to consequences. Most teens believe they are invulnerable any way, don’t reinforce this delusion.

If you are an employer or a manager, don’t try to resolve every dispute between your employees. They need to work things out for themselves. If a conflict persists, advise them, offer a range of options. Show your employees that you trust them to do the job for which they were hired. If you micromanage their work, refuse their suggestions, and act officiously rather than judiciously, then you are not treating them with respect. Even though you are the boss, you are not above them, they are co-workers and partners. They have a job and so do you. As the boss, you are not there simply to tell them what to do, but to equip, empower and enable them to do the work for which you have made them responsible. When they make mistakes, correct them, teach them. If they are incorrigible, fire them. They will learn from this too.

People deserve respect because they are made in the image of God. People respond best when you give them space and time to learn and grow and be who God created them to be.