Stonnington Baptist Website 
 Recent Forum Posts 

View All Forums ...


Love and Desire - confusing language

Have you ever tried to describe a new taste to someone.  Without a specific word, it can be very difficult.  In this way language limits our understanding and communication.  However, I want to address a situation where we have a word for something but it is also used for something else.  It is a bit like when I was in my primary school class with 4 other David's.  When the teacher yelled out David we weren't sure who we were referring to - it was confusing!!

In common everyday usage we have the potential confusion for the use of the word love.  In the greek language used at the time of the writing of the New Testament, there were a number of words that were used for different sorts of love:  eros (erotic/romantic love), phileo (love for family members), agape (attitude and action of doing good for the other person). 

Although love is a big part of contemporary culture, we only have one main word - love.  We can say 'I love you'.  But we can also say 'I love chocolate cake'.  Now in the second case what we actually mean is we desire chocolate cake.  We don't in any way have an attitude of or action of doing good to the chocolate cake - we want to eat it.

But when we say 'I love you' we can mean either I am intentionally acting for your good, or I desire you.  Sometimes we can mean both.  But in marriages and other relationships our primary call is to love - in the sense of acting for the good of the other person.  It is focused on the other person.  Now in marriages it is also good to have desire for the other person and to express it but it is more focussed on us rather than the other person.

Our contemporary language can confuse these two meanings.  But they are radically different and we need to work at maintaining the distinction.

What words could you use to express the two different meanings of the word love?

David Wanstall, 24/03/2009