Love in the Right Order


By David Ward Miller

Ever since C.S. Lewis wrote his insightful best-selling book on The Four Loves, a lot of ink and breath has been invested in the four Greek words for love. In my study and understanding of the Bible and sociology, there is a wise order for these loves for a lasting, fulfilling, and happy relationship: 1. Storge Love – (family love) healthy devotion and respect to one’s family; 2. Agape Love – (commitment love) the commitment to do what is best in spite of feelings; 3. Philia Love – (feelings love) feelings of affection and attraction; 4. Eros Love – (sexual love) erotic sexual passion.

Family love: This is foundational. Unhealthy family relationships of disrespect, manipulation, permissiveness, abuse, or whatever, will be brought into a new love relationship outside the family unless faced and fixed. The basic “leave, cleave, one flesh” order for marriage begins badly, the leaving is all too often running from the dysfunction only to bring it into the new relationship. The ideal is to “leave” home with the blessing of exemplary loving parents blessing on offspring who are mature independent self-supporting adults. Mature emotionally healthy adults are the only ones ready for any serious relationship or marriage.

Commitment love: In a love relationship this is called, marriage. Vows. Immature commitment-phobic young adults are now at critical proportions in our culture, especially with young men. Uncommitted cohabitation is becoming the norm for all ages. No promise to hang in there “in sickness and health, in adversity and prosperity.” Adults who “leave” home think “cleave” as the next move in a serious relationship, not sleeping around.

Feelings love: This comes third in a serious relationship because feelings are always a bit of a roller-coaster. Feelings are important, but grow best out of the security of commitment. Without commitment love, it is all too easy to bolt rather then work through problems that effect feelings. Nothing is more stupid and harmful to society than the once-popular songs with the idea, “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” This warped value is so ingrained there’s no need to sing it anymore.

Sexual love: Last, to be built upon the other three loves because it is so fragile and powerful. Sex is a pleasurable fire that warms and cooks when controlled by the other loves. Out of A procreation, in that order. God designed us and knows the powerful drive of sex must be controlled. The order is set, “leave, cleave, one flesh.” “One flesh” is sexual intimacy (Gen. 2:24 and 1 Cor. 6:16). And God commands married couples to keep that bed active!

God’s order is reversed in our culture. “Making love” is first and it is making a mess of society. STDs. Unwed mothers. Poverty. Abuse. Millions of abortions. Sexual addiction. Broken dreams of cohabitation. Commonplace easy divorce. Not a Happy Valentine’s Day commercial.

The place to start is a caring, loving, respectful, forgiving, and communicative home preparing children to be responsible independent adults willing and ready to make a life commitment in marriage that carries on that loving home legacy, cultivating love that finds exciting and pleasurable expression in bed.

David Miller is pastor of the Church of Rocky Hill Community Church. He may be reached by calling 559-623-5063.

Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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