Tag Archives: storge

Martin Luther on Married Love

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“The first love is drunken.  When the intoxication wears off, then comes real marriage love.”

Martin Luther

Which kinds of love is Luther talking about?  Eros and then agape? storge?  philia??  Or is married love really a combination of all of these?  We feel different sorts of love for each other at different times?

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All the Loves

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“He who does not love does not know God;  for God is love.”  1 John 4:8

The other night I asked my husband, a pastor, which of the Greek words for love best describes God’s love for us?  Of course, we first thought of agape love.  God loves everyone, regardless of our looks, ethnic background, temperament, intelligence, or worthiness.

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

However, we realized that God’s love is also eros.  In a number of places in the Bible, Israel, and later the church (the new Israel), are referred to as God’s wife or bride.

“Return faithless people”, declares the Lord, for I am your husband.” I will choose you–one from a town and two from a clan–and bring you to Zion.” Jeremiah 3:14

The fact that God is our father, and Jesus our brother,  exemplifies storge, or family love.  Jesus teaches us:

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have a Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 23:9

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy, are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Hebrews 2:11

Of course, philia is part of God’s love nature as well, because through the incarnation, Jesus became our friend.

“I no longer call you servants. because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father, I have made known to you.”  John 15:15

So, God no only is love, His is all the loves, and we find every love and everything there is to know about love in Him.  What a wonderful gift!  Remember, He loves you and so do I!

 

 

Loving Motivation

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“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  II Timothy 3:14-15

This was the epistle reading in church last Sunday, and the words I highlighted jumped out for me.  It made me think about all the people who’ve taught me about the faith.  What was their motivation to do so?

For many people, learning starts at home at a young age.  Maybe your mother sings hymns, you sit beside your father in the pew, your grandparents give you a Bible or read the Bible to you.  Studies have revealed that when someone is asked this question: “who had the greatest influence on my faith?”, the most frequent answer is “my mother.”  Surely this teaching is motivated by the love called “storge,”  family love, duty, affection.  This love may have its’ ups and downs, but it never stops caring.  Many parents want their children to know about God because they love them in this way. Paul’s acolyte, Timothy, learned in this way because Paul says to him:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”  II Timothy 1:5

Growing in faith can be part of married life also.  “Eros” is a love which desires closeness and union.  How can we be fully one, if we are not both one in Christ?  This kind of love will create a natural desire to share in everything, to teach the other to love Christ as they do.  Peter says:

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives…”  1 Peter 3:1

Then there are our friends.  With them we share “philea” or brotherly love.  In Via de Cristo there is a saying, “make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ.”  Most people who are unchurched, come to worship for the first time because a friend invited them.  Because we love our friends, we want them to share in the joy of fellowship with Christ.  We invite them to do the things that have been most meaningful in our own faith walk.

Finally, there are loads of people who share Christ simply because they love everyone as He did.  Dedicated Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, pastors, choir directors and others.  This is agape love, with no motive except to serve and edify others.

So it seems to me that some sort of love is the motive behind all Christian teaching.  No wonder the Bible says “God is love.  How would we learn about His love, how would we begin to experience it, without the love of others who spread it?  Think about the many people from whom you have learned.  Give thanks for their love.

 

 

Sibling Relationships

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Well, we’ve talked about friends and spouses and neighbors so it seems to me the time has come to talk about relationships with siblings.  Let’s face it, these can be fraught.  Sibling rivalry goes all the way back to Cain and Abel — and it didn’t end well.  There are a host of other dysfunctional siblings in the Bible — Joseph and his brothers (pride, jealousy), Jacob and Esau (deceit, favoritism), Mary and Martha (resentment, anger).  Nobody knows us better than our siblings;  they can push our buttons and return us so quickly to childish behavior and feelings;  they can also empathize with us in ways nobody else can.  They grew up with us in the same environment;  they competed with us for love and attention;  they understand our strengths and weaknesses.

My husband and I should be experts on sibling relationships — he comes from a family of 5, I grew up in a family of 7.  We used to say that when our kids were little, they had so many aunts and uncles that any adult who showed up regularly around the house was automatically assumed to be one!

When you come from a large family you learn that common DNA shows up in very different combinations.  We’re not all alike.  We have different talents, interests and even personalities.  We’re closer to some siblings than others — maybe based on age or temperament.  Somehow, though, we all feel the family connection and it’s comforting to be part of a group.  For better or worse, our siblings are our “tribe.”  The Greek word for family love is “storge” and it means a kind of rough and tumble, daily love which is not at all romantic or idealistic.  It’s a realistic love that has learned how to rub along together, despite all the mundane irritations and differences.

It strikes me that relationships within our congregation are a lot like that.  After all, aren’t we called to be brothers and sisters in Christ?  Don’t we have the same parent (our Father in Heaven?)  The same older brother as an example (Jesus)?  There are great temptations as we work together to become angry, resentful or prideful.  There are members we feel close to and others we can’t understand at all.  We may sometimes want to walk away from the “family.”  In the end, however, isn’t it a blessing to be part of the church body?  They know us, accept us, and love us through thick and thin (and even when they don’t like us very much). We have things in common that we can’t deny and don’t want to live without.

So today I’m giving thanks for all my sibs, biological and spiritual.  Life is better as part of the tribe.  I’d like some of our other authors to weigh in on the topic of brothers and sisters.

“…treat the younger men like brothers, ….younger women like sisters, in all purity.”  1 Timothy 5:1-2