The first word as used in the Scriptures is “Epithumia” which means “a strong desire of any kind, either positive or negative”. It is “passion” in general. For instance, a person may desire to become a showbiz star. Because of his/her love for this dream, she could beat all odds no matter what happens. The problem, though, is that this desire can be out of control and may trample upon the feelings and interest of others. This kind of love is rooted on emotions. Whenever emotions are high, the will to succeed is also at its peak. But if the emotion subsides, the interest may fade.
The second one is called “Eros” or love based on romance and physical attraction. It often connotes sexual love. Eros is the son of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Young people often have difficulty controlling their “hormones”. Adolescence brings with it the problem of changing emotions and feelings. Many of them claim that they are “in love” mainly because they are so enamored with the physical qualities of a person. Hence, physical attraction has become the barometer for the stability of the relationship. It is a fact that expression of love can make the relationship on fire. When physical beauty fades, problems set in. Moreover, sensual expression of love can be very dangerous outside the boundaries of marriage. Unwanted pregnancies could result in broken dreams.
Love based on affection and kindness is called “Storge”. It is the word for familial love as shown in the love of a mother to her child. Whenever a person receives storge, he/she feels secure and comfortable. Our relationship with our parents and loved-ones builds our confidence and personality. We can never survive without the guidance and care of our loved ones. Nonetheless, storge can evaporate in times of conflicts and bertrayal.
Love based on friendship and fraternal attraction is called “phileo”. Our loyalty to friends, family, organization and community reflect this kind of love. As the saying goes, “birds of the same feather flock together”. Commitment to each other is based on mutual interests, goals and thinking. However, phileo is motivated by practical reasons. One or both of the parties must benefit from the relationship. The favor being provided by one must be reciprocated by another. It needs continuous response for the relationship to be more dynamic and alive.
Epithumia, eros, storge and phileo are the kinds of love people often express to each other. But there is a kind of love that is far superior to these. The word is AGAPE--the pure, God-kind of love. 1Corinthians 13:4-7 summarizes its main characteristics: “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail”. The greatest expression of God’s love to mankind is summarized by the mission verse of Generation Ministries: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John ). God’s love is unconditional. It does not have strings attached. It does not require others to be good and acceptable for it to be enjoyed. It does not require reciprocation to be sustained. It is not based on the physical and lustful demands of man because it accepts everything. AGAPE sees everything but it does not mind. Unlike the human-kind of love, it is “others-centered” rather than “me-centered”.