according to C.S. Lewis, among many other scholars, there are four different types or ways humans express love:
(1) Affection (Greek – storge)
This is the simplest type of love, one that is experienced within the family or someone we are fond of. It takes place when fondness meets familiarity. This love is able to transcend many discriminating factors, i.e. one overlooks the faults of another because they like the other in some way. Think of a sibling whom you love but have nothing in common with. You love them because they are your sibling. However, although this may seem like strength, it is what actually makes this type of love vulnerable to hurt. Once the blinders are taken off, usually much hurt is left behind. This is usually the type of love that a mother has for her child. Affection is a very natural type of love for humans to express.
(2) Friendship (Greek – philia)
This form of love exists when two or more people share something, or many things, in common and enjoy being with one another in a non-romantic way. Friendship is the least natural of the ways love is expressed, for friendship is not necessary for survival (although some may argue that point). Friends are chosen, not given to us. Friendship is more important than the mere companionship, which, according to Lewis, can exist without the people loving one another.
(3) Eros (Greek – eros)
This type of love is usually seen as the highest stage of love, although it is truly not. Eros is the sense or emotion of being “in love” with someone romantically. Lewis says that this type of love is completely distinct of sexuality, and that mere sexuality does not equal being “in love” with a person. The problem with this form of love, although the feelings associated with it are equal to that of pure happiness, is that this blind devotion has led to many tragedies. The reason for this is, in Lewis’ own words from the book, "love begins to be a demon the moment [it] begins to be a god."
(4) Charity (Greek – agape)
This is the highest form of human love possible, and it is rarely achieved apart from another and greater Source. Charitable love is unconditional and unmerited love; in other words, the person receiving the love has done nothing to earn it and is not dependent upon trying to earn love from the one who is giving it. Agape love is self-less, sacrificial, and is willing to die for another. Yet this love has a potential threat as well; humans easily mistake the other 3 types of love (affection, friendship, and especially eros) for charity. And those who try to express this love by doing “good works” for others often both fall short of true agape, for their love is not real, or they flaunt it, and thereby “warp” this type of love.
if you are a Christian, i am quite sure that you have heard the word agape many times...although the Bible was written in Greek, agape is the word for love that represents God most often...philia, or friendship, is also used to express God as well, but definitely not as often
if agape, or charity, is the word used to express God in the Bible, and if we remember what charity is defined as, then we know that God must be related to love that is given without conditions, without restrictions, without anyone having to earn that person’s love...
perhaps one of the most profound statements written about God in the Bible is a very simple one:
God is Love (1 John 4:16)
for a long time, i did not fully understand this statement until i read Lewis’ book as well as studied the Scriptures myself in many translations, as well as Greek...the statement God is Love does not mean that God has love, God gives love, God shows love, etc...
it says: God IS Love
God, in His very essence, is the expression of real, untainted, pure, L-O-V-E... therefore, none of His other characteristics are without Love as well, because God does absolutely nothing apart from this Love which makes up His very being
the human love of charity, or agape, is the best way we know how to define the Love of God, and charity is highly unlikely to be expressed by a person unless he or she knows what real love is, or Who it comes from
it is here that we find the problem with love in our society and our world
all of our feelings of affection, and all of our articulations of friendship, and all of our enchantments with being “in love”, are not real love...these are all good feelings and emotions, yet unless they are under the subordination of agape, they will fall short
and even if others give us affection, and we have friendship in our lives, and someone else romantically “loves” us, we are going to feel empty, shallow, and longing for some greater Love within our lives...and there is no one on this planet who can deny that they have not before, or do not still, yearn for something more
that greater Love can only come from God, through a relationship with Jesus Christ
we know that God is Love by the example Jesus gave us when he came to this earth...He gave up his life for us so that we could once again have that Love relationship with God...so that we are no longer left with that gaping void in our hearts and souls
no love from any other human, or any thing, will ever fill that deep longing in us for true and everlasting and unconditional love...only Jesus Christ can give the water we thirst for that will quench our souls
once we are rightly related to God again, like Adam and Eve once were in the Garden, all of our other expressions of love will be overshadowed by agape and charity...the feelings of affection, friendship, and romance will not go away, or stop being felt, but they will be greater...they will be real...they will last, and we won’t have to try and fake them when the world around us leaves us weary...
i believe that this world would be a completely different place if we all had a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ...if everyone TRULY accepted Christ as his or her Savior, and had a living and active relationship with God, i do not for one second believe that the things we see in our society today would be taking place...i know for a fact that the divorce rate would go down, rehabilitation clinics would close their doors, children and parents would once again be united, and friendships would be lasting and real
as Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a great Christian apologist and philosopher, said in his book Can Man Live Without God (another must read for all Christians and non-Christians alike): "Our inward look and our outward look are changed by first changing our upward look. That sequence is the only way to bring about real change in human intercourse. Our relationship to God dictates our relationships to one another."
think of an empty pitcher or an empty fuel tank...if we are not continually having fellowship with God our Father, we are running on empty...all of our human efforts to give forth love will come up dry and shallow...it may last for a little while, but eventually it is going to fade...yet if there is a constant flow of life-giving water or “fuel” in our tanks (souls) from Love Himself, the love that we give others will be real
we absolutely, 100%, NEED the Love of God in our lives if we are going to sustain any other type of love that we may express...and who wants to live a life without love? His love is agape love, which means you do not have to earn it, and there is nothing, absolutely NOTHING, you can do to earn it...no matter how many good things you do, or how nice of a person you might be, God’s Love cannot be earned...He already loves you...you just have to accept Him and His Love...
if you do not have this Love relationship with God through the Savior Jesus Christ, or if you’re not even sure, please, i beg of you, start one now...today...don’t wait
things will not be perfect...sadly, because of what happened in the Garden with Adam and Eve, they will not be perfect again until Heaven...but we can strive for that perfection with the help of God, and our lives will be changed...His way and will for your life is better, and He knows what you need better than you do! He created you!
pray and ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, to pour his Healing Love into your heart and into your soul...that tugging on your heart that you feel is Him...and i guarantee that you will no longer be searching for something more for your life, because you will have found the answer to it all