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Forms of Love

That how we use language is important can be easily seen in the use of the word "love" in English. When a person says "I love you" to another, the recipient of such a compliment cannot always be sure what is meant. Too often, filled with high minded thoughts of angels and God, the person imagines by speaking the word "love" he means something noble. Meanwhile, his intentions may well be motivated by a part of the body instead of soul.

English speakers meanwhile have trouble substituting "I lust you" for "I love you" because, though more accurate, it's too blunt, and needs a preposition. The Greek words "agapé," "phileo," "storgé," and "eros" are the words that the Greeks used which our one English word "love" tries to express. In English one must determine context and character to know the difference.

C.S. Lewis has helped the English speaker greatly by writing about The Four Loves. He begins the "Introduction" by putting man in his place in this subject, which is vitally important for any human who reads the book to understand before all else. He distinguishes between "gift love" and "need love" and notes that God is responsible for the former while man can only muster the latter at best. And while he states "I cannot now deny the name love to Need-love" (12) he adds "No doubt Need-love, like all our impulses, can be selfishly indulged (13). But he also clarifies that our need for love is as much a need as our need for food. Thus, "man's love for god, from the very nature of the case, must always be very largely . . . a Need love."

Now that the reader knows not only his own condition but his standing before God, Lewis can continue describing the four loves in the proper context: their origin and originator. And in that context he warns that love "begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god" (17). That is, John the Apostle's equation does not work backwards. Though God is love (1 John 4:8) we cannot say love ...

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Forms of Love. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:20, February 18, 2019, from