I must be slipping as I didn’t write a Valentine’s Day blog post for this year. I wrote one last year (sort of) titled, “High Hopes,” and I’ve written several previous to last year’s post so I guess I didn’t feel the need to write a new one this year. In 2016 for Valentine’s Day I published a blog post titled, “Love Is In the Air,” and it was a repeat from the previous year (2015) which was titled “What Love Does,” along with “Love Sweet Love” published that same year. And then in 2014 I published “The Power of Love,” which included that great Huey Lewis and the News song by the same title. I also wrote a couple of Valentine’s Day posts in 2013 and one in 2012.
Actually, it was intentional this year that I decided not to write a blog post for Valentine’s Day. Waiting for a “Knight in Shining Armor” (or even rusted armor at this point in time) to show up is just getting to be old beyond words (and he probably rode off with a woman more than half my age years ago), so who wants to write about that? And as I wrote in “The Power of Love” back in 2014, the expression of love almost defies definition anyway, but we know what it feels like when it happens to us, right? Right? And it can be disguised as something as shallow as lust, or as the ultimate sacrifice as in laying down one’s life for their friends or their country. It can also be tossed around tritely, as in “I just love my new car,” or, in my case, “I just love dark chocolate,” or it can be deeply felt, as in love for a parent, spouse, children or close friends and even pets.
Ah yes . . . this thing called love . . . .
In an article published in 2014 on Huffington Post titled, “What is Love? A Philosophy of Love,” by Adrian Catron, natural philosopher, alchemist, visual artist, photographer, industrial design engineer, and writer, he states the following about love:
Don’t let the word love define your LOVE
Love is the most powerful emotion a human being can experience. The strange thing is, that almost nobody knows what love is. Why is it so difficult to find love? That is easy to understand, if you know that the word “love” is not the same as one’s feeling of love.
The word “love” is used and abused for the expression of different sets of feelings.
The word love is used as an expression of affection towards someone else (I love you) but it also expresses pleasure (I love chocolate). To make it a little more complicated, the word “love” also expresses a human virtue that is based on compassion, affection and kindness. This is a state of being that has nothing to do with something or someone outside yourself. This is the purest form of Love.
The ancient Greek used seven words to define the different states of love:
Storge: natural affection, the love you share with your family.
Philia: the love that you have for friends.
Eros: sexual and erotic desire kind of love (positive or negative)
Agape: this is unconditional love, or divine love
Ludus: this is playful love, like childish love or flirting.
Pragma: long standing love; the love in a married couple.
Philautia: the love of the self (negative or positive)
These are seven different kind of feelings. The love you feel for your partner is not the same as the love you feel for your mother. Even the love for your partner changes in time. You feel different emotions for different situations and people.
But still, we use the same word. It is easy to understand that a confusion is easily made while communicating. I can say “I love you” to two different people (and mean it), but I am actually feeling [love] in a different way [with each]. . . . (Quote source and entire article available at this link.)
In another article published in November 2017 in Psychology Today titled, “What is Love?” by Armin Zadeh, MD, Ph.D. MPH, Director of Cardiac Computed Tomography and Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and author of the book, “The Forgotten Art of Love” (2017), Dr. Zadeh answer that question as follows:
Looking at human affairs, many of us are saddened by the fact that there is a lot of misery in the world: suffering, deception, and destruction. Some feel that things are getting worse, the world is more divided than ever. On the other hand, we are encouraged by the many acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and love that also goes around.
Indeed, almost everybody wants to live happily and peacefully, and almost everybody wants loving relationships—even those folks we perceive as hostile. The natural question then is, why do we so often fail?
It’s not news to anybody that the answer to happy living is love. Love is the key to any life and the key to happiness. During the holiday season, we suffer with George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” until he realizes that it is love that matters more than anything in the world. The movie is among the most popular because it rings true—love indeed is the universal answer to any misery or divisiveness. The very next moment, however, we turn our attention again to pursuits of short-term gratification and/or other self-directed matters.
The curious thing about love is that despite its indisputable importance to our lives, we spend comparatively little time trying to understand it. We all have a certain concept of love—but do we question or probe it? Instead, we spend most of our lives acquiring skills and knowledge which we believe facilitates us navigating to a “successful” life but have nothing to do with love.
If we come to understand why love is so essential to us—and conversely, why neglecting to focus our attention on love is detrimental—maybe we will be more motivated to re-center our priorities. We may ask ourselves: What is love anyway? Do we have any influence on love? Is it part of our biology? Is it part of spirituality? Is it both? What is it that makes us love somebody? What makes us not love somebody?
In his 1956 book “The Art of Loving”, psychologist Erich Fromm challenged the notion that love is this phenomenon which serendipitously occurs without our control. Fromm believed it is a common mistake to confuse the intense feelings we experience when we fall in love at the beginning of romantic relationships with actual love. The passionate, obsessive period which we so crave because of all its excitement may be part of a romantic relationship but not of love itself –it is just a phase and it won’t last.
Recent studies in neuroscience allow us to clearly differentiate between the early “falling-in-love” phase compared to the long-term “in love” period by detecting distinct activities in our blood and brain. Researchers studied people who just fell in love compared to those in long term relationships. They could show the pattern of blood levels changing over time. MRI studies of the brain corroborate these findings; revealing activities in distinct brain areas during each phase.
The “falling-in-love” phase invariably ends after 2-4 years, it is just nature’s way to jump start a relationship. If we think this is love we will inevitably be disappointed. Indeed, there is a peak in the incidence of relationship break ups after 2-4 years.
In contrast, love is a lasting, committed state, which requires our active involvement. In “The Forgotten Art of Love,” I define love as the “urge and the continuous effort for the happiness and well being of somebody” which expresses that, while love involves powerful feelings, a critical component of it is commitment.
This “active” commitment aspect in the process of loving is actually the key to success. Unfortunately, however, it is the facet most often neglected, probably because it takes ongoing effort. It would be much easier if reality was such that love is this beautiful emotion that we just to have to be lucky to get to be passive recipients of. The inconvenient truth, however, is that love is no exception to any other great achievement in life, we have to work for it. At the same time, there is a silver—even golden—lining: We actually have a lot of control on how much love we have in our lives—an empowering concept.
If we recognize the nature of “falling in love” as being a distinct passing phase, we won’t be disappointed once the obsessive feelings fade a after a while. Instead, we will be prepared to move to the next phase in the relationship, which can be equally or even more powerful but, in contrast to the falling in love phase, requires our effort to sustain it. This is why I agree with characterizing love as an art—requiring skills and devotion. (Quote source here.)
The Bible has a great deal to say about love. In fact, the Bible says that “love is of God” and “God is love” (1 John 4:7–8); in other words, love is a fundamental characteristic of who God is. Everything God does is impelled and influenced by His love.
The Bible uses several different words for “love” in the Hebrew and Greek, interchanging them depending on context. Some of these words mean “affectionate love”; others indicate “friendship”; and still others, “erotic, sexual love.” There is also a distinct word for the type of love that God displays. In the Greek, this word is agape, and it refers to a benevolent and charitable love that seeks the best for the loved one.
The Bible gives many examples of love: the caring provision of Boaz for Ruth; the deep friendship of David and Jonathan; the poetic, passionate love of Solomon and the Shulamite; the enduring commitment of Hosea to Gomer; the fatherly love of Paul for Timothy and John for the church; and, of course, the sacrificial, saving love of Christ for the elect.
Agape–the benevolent, selfless love that God shows–is mentioned often in the New Testament, including in the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13. There, love’s characteristics are listed: love is patient and kind; love doesn’t envy, boast, or dishonor others; love is not proud or self-seeking; love is not easily angered, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, and doesn’t delight in evil; rather, love rejoices with the truth; love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres; love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4–8). Of the greatest of God’s gifts, faith, hope, and love, “the greatest . . . is love” (verse 13).
The Bible says that God was motivated by love to save the world (John 3:16). God’s love is best seen in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf (1 John 4:9). And God’s love does not require us to be “worthy” to receive it; His love is truly benevolent and gracious: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The Bible says that, since true love is part of God’s nature, God is the source of love. He is the initiator of a loving relationship with us. Any love we have for God is simply a response to His sacrificial love for us: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Our human understanding of love is flawed, weak, and incomplete, but the more we look at Jesus, the better we understand true love.
The Bible says that God’s love for us in Christ has resulted in our being brought into His family: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). Just as the father in the parable showed love to his prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), so our Heavenly Father receives us with joy when we come to Him in faith. He makes us “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6, NKJV).
The Bible says that we are to love others the way that God loves us. We are to love the family of God (1 Peter 2:17). We are to love our enemies—that is, we are to actively seek what is best for them (Matthew 5:44). Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). As we show benevolent, selfless love, we reflect God’s love to a lost and dying world. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
The Bible says that our love for God is related to our obedience of Him: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3; cf. John 14:15). We serve God out of love for Him. And God’s love for us enables us to obey Him freely, without the burden of guilt or the fear of punishment.
First John 4:18 says that “perfect love drives out fear” (this is again the word “agape”). The dismissal of the fear of condemnation is one of the main functions of God’s love. The person without Christ is under judgment and has plenty to fear (John 3:18), but once a person is in Christ, the fear of judgment is gone. Part of understanding the love of God is knowing that God’s judgment fell on Jesus at the cross so we can be spared. Jesus described Himself as the Savior: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). The very next verse reminds us that the only person who must fear judgment is the one who rejects Jesus Christ.
The Bible says that nothing can separate the believer from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38–39). God’s love does not wax and wane; it is not a fickle, emotional sensation. God’s love for sinners is why Christ died on the cross. God’s love for those who trust in Christ is why He holds them in His hand and promises never to let them go (John 10:29). (Quote source here.)
Well, I guess ended up writing a Valentine’s Day blog post for this year after all . . . on the day after Valentine’s Day. Of course, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 has the last word on love: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth . . .
It always protects, always trusts . . .
Always hopes, always perseveres . . .
Love never fails . . . .
YouTube Video: “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News: