Summary: 4 words for love in the Greek that describe covenant married love (Material adapted from Fred Lowry's book, Covenant Marriage, chapter 9 The Power of Covenant Love, pgs. 143- 151)
Some time ago a new organization prepared a special presentation on love and marriage. The reporters talked to more than 100 people from various cultures that practice arranged marriage- Indians, Koreans, Pakistanis, Orthodox Greeks, and Orthodox Jews. Over and over again they heard the same thing: “You Americans fall in love and then marry. We marry and then fall in love.” Which way is best? Not many of us would want our parents to pick our spouse for us. But whether we fall in love before the wedding ceremony or after, the fact remains that love is a crucial ingredient of any marriage. Love alone, however, will not make a marriage last.
The marriage covenant is what sustains a marriage over the long run. Love is something that, because of covenant, we keep choosing to do, both when we feel like it and when we do not.
But what is love? The word love is used casually and flippantly in our modern culture. Limited by our language, we use the same word to describe our love for God as we do our love for our mate, our dog, sports, a car, or a cream filled donut. Hopefully these are different
Thankfully the Greek language helps us a lot here. The Greek language uses 4 words to describe different kinds of love. Each of these need to be present in marriage.
Thesis: Let’s look at these 4 words for love in the Greek
Storge: I like you
One of the major reasons for the failures of marriages in our day is a flawed selection process. Simply put, people are making poor choices, and those choices are producing terrible consequences. Let me be painfully honest. Premarital sex blinds us to the flaws of a potential mate. Sex produces a bond that is not easily broken. These bonds are not healthy but harmful. Many people are marrying jerks that are not good for them. This person turns me on so I will marry them. Wrong!
One of the Greek words for “love” is storge, and it means “I like you.” Liking the person we marry is important if we want our marriage to last. A husband and wife should share similar interests and values. They should enjoy being around one another in good times and in bad times, in pressure times and in play times.
Now there are many issues we do not know until we get married and go through the years with that person, but before we enter into marriage we better have some ideas of the issues we will face. Need to see that person in their good moments and in their bad moments. Need to know at least some of the issues we will face. “We won’t face any issues because we love each other.” Get a grip on reality! Everyone has weaknesses, character flaws, temptations, and shortcomings.
Mark Lowry said, “"There are people I love that I don't like. I go through Thanksgiving and Christmas, too!" It would be terrible for one of those people to be my spouse, one that I love (because I have to) but I don’t like.
I know you have to love me but do you really like me? If answer is No then something needs to change or there will be trouble. When choosing mate, much easier to grow to love someone we like than to keep loving someone we don’t like.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10. “Be devoted in brotherly love” uses a form of storge. Many times this is family love but goes deeper than this. A reference says that this is mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands but also describes loving affection and prone to love.
Eros: I Want You
I often hear people say they want to get married because they are in love. The truth is, many are not so much “in love” as “in lust.” Marriage is not the cure for lust; self control is.
In our modern, sex crazed culture, we tend to have a “Love Boat” mentality that worships fun in the pursuit of a love that feels good. “If it feels good, do it.” The Greek word for this kind of love is eros, and it represents a selfish, sensual, and sexual love.
Not saying that we need to find someone who repulses us, someone who is ugly to marry. What I am saying is that eros love will not keep a couple together for life. Eros closes its eyes to faults, laughs off shortcomings, and rationalizes potential problems. As long as eros gets what it wants everything is fine. Passion and romance come and go quickly and easily; real covenant love, on the other hand, is hard work.