Love, an emotion? a feeling? What is love?
Today many people, when they think of love think of it as an emotion or a feeling. For them, love is possible of fading or dying. Love, for many, is just a state of mind that one can fall into or fall out of. But is this truly love?
C.S. Lewis states that there are four loves, Storge, Philia, Eros and Agape.
Storge, according to Lewis, is affection, the fondness through familiarity. This is especially present between family members. This love is one that is present in a person naturally and does not need any coercion. This kind of love is found in relationships such as child and parent or even friends. This love is not necessarily sexual but rather assures that one cares for the other. Storge, then, is not simply a feeling but rather a natural inclination to care.
Philia, is the love between friends. This love exists between those who share common interests or activity. Lewis states that Philia is exceedingly profound, since friendship is not vital to our lives but is freely chosen Lewis says, “to the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue.”
Eros, is romance. Eros is often misconstrued to have the strict meaning of sexual conduct. However, Lewis did not see Eros as a strictly sexual act. Eros for Lewis is an emotional connection between two people which does not depend on sexual acts. The desire for sexual acts was what Lewis called “Venus”.
Finally, Lewis speaks of Agape; the unconditional love. It is in this love that one cares for another without caring about the circumstances. Lewis states that this love is the greatest of all love. This love is the most proper way to explain God’s love. God’s love is unconditional and resulted in sacrificial love through the laying down of life by Christ for the salvation of many. Lewis explains this as Charity; which St. Thomas Aquinas described as “the friendship of man to God which unites us to God”, which extends towards love of neighbor.
In our Christian Catholic faith, love is clearly defined by Christ when he says,
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Love for Christ extends to all humanity and is expressed when one lays his own life down for the sake of another. How then, does one lay down his life for another? To do this we must do as Christ tells us in the gospel of St. Matthew;
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me’”
Matthew 25: 35-40.
Love is a choice. One has to choose to love another and to do so in a pure way without any kind of recompense for the love that one gives to the other. God is the fullness of love and he shows us what true love is. St. John says in his first letter,
“Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins”
1 John 4: 8-10
Even though we are all fallen in nature, God still continues to love us. We are his children and therefore, he shows us Agape and Storge without us ever meriting that love. The only reason that we love God is because God first loved us. It is, therefore, in our ability to choose to love one another. Doing so, we follow the command that God gives us, “if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 John 4: 11), for if “anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4: 20)
Love, is not an emotion or a feeling but rather a choice. Love, whatever kind , is meant to be for always. There isn’t a real reason for one to fall out of love, for to do so, would mean that the love professed for ones family, friend or spouse, was never true love. Without love, we are nothing. Love withstands all things and should never die or fade but rather should always stay strong. St. Paul says,
“…if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.”
1 Cor 13: 2-8
So then, let us choose to love one another as Christ has taught us to love. Let us strive to not function in an egotistical love, but rather in a pure love imitating as closely as possible Agape, the unconditional love. And let us always remember the words of St. John, “This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4: 21).