L’amour Gateau!

This is not a cake recipe.. but feel free to read on!

It is a commonly held view that the French are the experts on love. ‘L’amour’ is the only word that means love in the French language, but I can imagine that France is a romantic place to holiday. It is actually the Greeks who are the experts on love, for it is from their language that we derive the real meanings of the word love.

‘Love’ in the Greek language are Eros, Agape, Philia, and Storge, it is important to make these distinctions as they inform our relationships in the modern day. Eros is sexual love, Agape is unconditional love, Philia is a cosy kind of friendship love, it includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Storge means an affection for someone, and is a family kind of love, where we put up with each others weaknesses..’loving the tyrant’. (source: Wiki)

Just speaking of love makes me recall scenes from the movie ‘Moulin Rouge’ where the “The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love, and be loved in return.” This puts love on a mighty pedestal, considering we are talking about love between a ‘lady of the night’ and a poor writer. Very romantic, completely un-monogamous and suitably tragic all at once. We just love the Bohemian culture!

Agape is in fact the highest form of love – and includes the giving up of one’s life for another.. sacrificial love. ‘Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape was appropriated by Christians for use to express the unconditional love of God.’ (Ref: Wiki)

The sexual revolution in the 60’s placed ‘free love’ as the utmost goal for self-actualisation. As a self-proclaimed Beatles fan – John Lennon is my favourite – I spent my teenage years wishing I hadn’t missed the 60’s. Peace, love, freedom, happiness and the musical called Hair was what life was really all about. Now the experimentation of the 60’s did not end in the Summer of 69, it continued on and on and on through the young lives of people like myself as our parents lived their heyday vicariously through ours. But it does not stop there, as much as we loved Hendrix and Pink Floyd, there was also thrown in a good dose of punk and metal in the mix. The following decades fed the free love frenzy, combined with a heady mix of free your mindedness, and a cultish fascination for the electric guitar – one of my favourites being Black Sabbath. This social revolution freed our hearts, minds, souls and bodies – now that is progress!

What did people do before then? How could life have been bearable? Marriage, a career, church picnics, children, grandchildren and old age.

‘Forsaking all others’ is now a vow that only the minority of us can actually stick to. When social statistics tell us that, on average, we are likely to ‘fall in love’ six times in our lifetime – half of which are likely to be after we’re married – it really demonstrates what kind of a hurdle this sacrificial love represents.

All you need is love.” Love and freedom are actually a dangerous mix. When you look at ALL the aspects of love, bearing with each other in times of difficulty, ‘loving the tyrant’ does not pose much freedom at all. But if we cast off all the shackles of yesterday, will our daughters’ daughters really adore us?

This new freedom of love was the icing on the cake of a new revolution. But was it so new? Actually the ‘free love’ revolution was just as old-fashioned as the 50’s house wife was made out to be. For thousands of years, nations, cities and empires have ‘declined’ as they succumbed to greed, lust and power. (Reference: Volumn I and II of The Fall of the Roman Empire) This trend is expected to continue indefinitely..

If we take away all it’s cultural decorations and misappropriations, what is the whole meaning of love? It is just a bit too hard to digest for many, but the true origin of love comes from a Father to a Son. It is demonstrated by God who became man, and sacrificed himself to demonstrate His love for all His children. Why is it so? Because God IS Love.

‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God’. 1 John 4:7

‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’.  John 15:13

And you may have heard this read out at weddings, but it does not refer just to romantic love:

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

When people say to you ‘Love is all that matters’ it seems to ring true with everyone. But it is also written:

‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’  1 Corinthians 13:13

Love is the greatest thing, but it is not all that matters. Faith – is not in ourselves or others, but in the One who made us. Hope is not to strive for greater freedom in this world, but in eternal life with God.

If real Love is born of God and knows God, is not self-seeking, and includes the giving up of one’s life for another, then it cannot include the freedom to live and love however you choose. It must also include familial love and all its frustrations, and to care for the future wellbeing of our children. Real Love also includes a requirement to correct each other, to hold up a mirror to each other’s faults, in a kind and humble way.

Real Love such as this, I have found, is where real contentment, joy and peace is found.

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