7 Types Of Love And How They Relate To God’s Plan For Your Happiness

by Love and Relationships

Heaven’s Currency, the third book in a trilogy I never expected to write (following Why All People Suffer and Dying without Fear), explains what the church has been taught about the nature of love and how it fits in God’s plan. Learning to love is a search for human perfection, to become like God so we can live with him in eternal joy and fulfillment. We can learn to love in a number of ways, part of God’s plan to make it accessible to all.  One way is to use the Greek lexicon as a base, for they identified at least 7 types of loving relationships that have existed from antiquity.

7 Types Of Love

 In the Septuagint, the Church recognized Greek translation of the Old Testament and the New Testament, which was written mostly in Greek, three of these words were used to describe love. Pope Benedict XVI catalogued this for us in Deus Caritus Est, telling us that Eros (romantic love) is used twice in the Old Testament and never in the New Testament.  Philia (brotherly love) is used to describe Jesus and his relationship with his disciples, and Agape (charity or sacrificial love) is used to describe our relationship with the father and with our neighbors.  

Of these, agape (charity in English, caritas in Latin) is the most important because it is the most important theological virtue.  It infused in us by God and it is the source of all types of love. It is the only thing that transcends death. Eros is the most well-known form of love and is directly responsible for the vocation of marriage and the birth of the children that are the fruits of marriage..  Philia is actually the most prevalent of the great loving relationships because most people have at most one romantic partner at a time but may have several close friends and siblings.  

There are four other terms used by the Greeks to describe love that are widely known and deserve discussion.  Philautia (proper self love), Ludus (playful, flirtatious love), storges (love between parents and children) and pragma (settled love in longstanding relationships).  These seven types of love all describe ways that people have always bonded together and are relevant to just about everyone’s experience. Even Philautia requires people to be happy and that requires the love of God.

 While the disposition to charity or any form of love comes from God, love remains an act of the will.  No one can make another love them, this requires the “spark” of divine infusion, without which we remain “only” friends and acquaintances.  At the same time, love can be lost, much to the regret of those involved, if the lovers are not willing to sacrifice for the good of the other. This is true of all loving relationships and is what makes them special and fulfilling.

Consider the most loving relationships that you have been a part of. It may be when you were a child and your parents selflessly got up in the middle of the night to calm your crying and see to your needs. It might be with your spouse, who got up with your infant because he or she knew you were tired. It might be with the sibling or lifelong friend who picked you up from the airport in the driving snow. It can apply to any of the seven relationships.  In all these cases, someone was looking out for your best interests even when it caused them to suffer.

These loving relationships are important because they teach us not only what is required to get to heaven but what it would be like to spend eternity with the kind of people who are capable and willing to love us no matter what we do.    Even more to the point, God IS love and we can count on his every action being what is best for us. Even when we suffer on earth, we can be confident that it is all what is best for our salvation. As all our earthly experiences show us, love requires sacrifice but it yields joy and happiness that more than compensates for any inconvenience.  Knowing that God loves us more than any human can, we can be confident that if we keep the faith and love HIM, we have nothing to fear in death, when we will share the divine presence with those we love and who love us.

Photo by Michael Fenton on Unsplash

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