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Long drives across the country are great for reflection. We discussed many things but one topic stands out...Love.

We started by playing, “What is Love ... Baby Don’t Hurt Me” (1). Then we asked the girls about what they thought love really meant. Aila said that she feels love “when Mommy hugs me”. Sumay said she feels love when Daddy “tells me I’m awesome”. We talked about the six kinds of love (2) and the five love languages (3). We read through 1st Corinthians on the meaning of love...a key part of our marriage vows (4). We concluded with an old favorite of mine from Take 6 called “I Love You” ... a Christian song that blows my mind (5).


The greeks had six words for love (2): philía, éros, agápe, storgē, pragma, and philautia. After learning their meanings it became apparent just how inadequate the one word "love" is in describing the many ways we feel love. Here are the definitions as articulated by the never inaccurate wikipedia:

Philia (φιλία philía) means "affectionate regard, friendship", usually "between equals". It is a dispassionate virtuous love. Philia includes loyalty to friends (specifically, "brotherly love"), family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity.

Éros (ἔρως érōs) means "love, mostly of the sexual passion". The Modern Greek word "erotas" means "intimate love". Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself.

Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē) means "love: esp. charity; the love of God for man and of man for God". Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one's children and the feelings for a spouse. Historically, Agape was used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as "to will the good of another."

Storge (στοργή storgē) means "tenderness, love, affection" and "especially of parents and children". Storge is the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring, or all humans for young mammals that are ‘cute’. It is also known to express mere acceptance or enduring situations, as in "loving" the tyrant. This is also used when referencing the love for one's country or a favorite sports team.

Pragma a model of love as two people may demonstrate during a lengthy marriage. It is a practical type of love, not necessarily derived out of true romantic love. Rather, pragma is a convenient type of love that is perceived to be rational and realistic. Pragmatic lovers want to find value in their partners, and ultimately want to work with their partner to reach a common goal. The practicality and realism of pragmatic love often aides longevity of the relationship, as long as common goals and values remain shared for the duration.

Philautia self love (philos + auto + -ia) – love for one's own self. The Greeks recognized two forms. In its negative form philautia is the selfishness that wants pleasure, fame, and wealth beyond what one needs. Narcissus, who falls in love with his own reflection, exemplifies this kind of self-love. In its positive form philautia refers to a proper pride or self-love.


Two deep insights came out of this discussion. One is the power of Philia. The other is love the action.

First, the Greeks considered Philia to be the most powerful form of love, even more than the base sexuality of Eros. Philia is, “concerned with the deep comradery friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield. It was about showing loyalty to your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as sharing your emotions with them.” This word deserves more regular usage in the English vocabulary.

Second, most of the time when people talk about love they mean the feeling...but Love is also an action. Giving love can create the feeling of love. This is why the statement, “falling out of love” is somewhat nonsensical. People fall out of love the emotion because of a lack of love the action. Recognizing loves causal effect on our emotions helps to bring the state of our relationships into our circle of influence.

Sharing these links and the knowledge within with the kids was a real joy and helped everyone gain a better appreciation of what Love truly is. Unfortunately, the English language stinks in the love department...thank Zeus for the Greeks!


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