Tuesday, June 7, 2011

vocabulary rant

I'm going to have to take some time before my rant to set up some history. Those of you who are familiar with the "four loves" can skip this part and start at the asterisk. For the rest of you, hang tight. I'll make it quick.

Much has been made in the Christian community of the different loves. It's a really cool concept that is based on two things: Greek and the complexity of human emotions.

Basically, there are four different kinds of love, each with its own word (in Greek). There is storge, or affection. It's based on familiarity and companionship, and has been compared to the love of a parent for a child, or of siblings for one another. It's not based on commonalities or shared experiences, but on becoming accustomed to another person's presence in your life.

The second type is philia, or the love of friendship. This is based on commonalities and shared experiences. In fact, Lewis himself once said that friendship is based on the moment when one person looks at another and says, "You too? I thought I was the only one!"

Eros, romantic love, is not (according to Lewis) the same as sexual love, but the distinction is meaningless for the purposes of our discussion. Eros desires a romantic connection with its object, whether you define "romantic" as sexual, emotional, or both.

And finally, we have agape, which is love pure, free, and unconditional. It is the love of God for people, and Lewis says that it is the love that all Christians should strive to show one another.

* So here's the thing: in ancient Greece, you could be hanging out with your friend and say, "Hey, buddy, I philia you" (or however the grammar works), and they would know that you meant that you loved them with the love of friendship. In modern America, we just say, "I love you!" when our friends say or do something that reminds us of why we are friends with them in the first place.

You could tell your mom that you storge her, you could tell your kids that you agape them, and you could tell your significant other that you eros them.

But what if you and your significant other (a) speak English and (b) are not at the point of saying "I love you" yet? There are moments with John where i want to say that i love (philia or storge) him, but i don't want him to misinterpret that as me saying that i am in love with (eros) him. Like isn't strong enough, but love is too strong. So usually i just kiss him, and then we end up making out, which is great. But i like to use my words.

The other part of my frustration is that i am falling in love with him. I'm falling hard and fast. And it's scary and wonderful and strange and fun and confusing and crystal clear. When i'm with him, i think, "This is right. This is how it's supposed to be." I'm not quite ready to drop the L-word (or the E-word, if we're using the Greek), but i know that it's coming.

In the meantime, i guess we can just keep making out. I just wish i had better words for what is happening to my heart when we do.

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