How romantic love was intended and misused in the Bible


In the Bible, you find 3 of the 4 Greek words for love, storge (familial love), philia (friendship love), and agape (altruistic love). The one that is missing is eros the Greek word for physical or romantic love. One may wonder why it is missing since physical love is a gift from God. We will examine some scriptures that highlight the manner in which this expression of love was intended and how it has been misused.

Romantic love is not just a gift but also a commandment

Romantic love is not just a gift but also a commandment as is brought out in Genesis 1:27-28, “And God went on to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it…” Romantic love not only provided a guarantee of creating a family to care for the Earth, but also a way for the husband and wife to express their love for one another as we see in Proverbs 5:18, 19, “May your own fountain (sexual satisfaction) be blessed, And may you rejoice with the wife of your youth, A loving doe, a graceful mountain goat. Let her breasts satisfy you at all times. May you be captivated by her love constantly.”

Did you notice that the scripture said ‘rejoice with the wife of your youth’?

This is a key element of romantic love, it was to have boundaries and be expressed only within the marital arrangement. The scripture in Proverbs 5 goes on in verses 20-23 to warn of sexual relations outside of the marriage; “So why, my son, should you be captivated by a wayward woman Or embrace the bosom of an immoral woman? For the ways of man are before the eyes of Jehovah; He examines all his paths. The wicked one is ensnared by his own errors, And he will be caught in the ropes of his own sin. He will die for lack of discipline And go astray because of his excessive foolishness.” Yes, it would be foolish and the ultimate result would be that ‘He will die for lack of discipline’. But you may be thinking that this is only referring to a married man, what of single persons?

The Bible’s view of premarital sex is stated quite simply in Colossians 3:5, “Deaden, therefore, your body members that are on the earth as respects sexual immorality, uncleanness, uncontrolled sexual passion, hurtful desire, and greediness, which is idolatry.”, and also in 1 Thessalonians 4: 3-6, “For this is the will of God, that you should be holy and abstain from sexual immorality. Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with greedy, uncontrolled sexual passion like the nations have that do not know God. No one should go beyond proper limits and take advantage of his brother in this matter, because Jehovah exacts punishment for all these things, just as we told you previously and also strongly warned you.”  The last statement, ‘just as we told you previously and also strongly warned you’, shows that this idea is threaded throughout the Bible. Sexual relations were a gift that held beauty when used properly and held death (disease, heartbreak, etc.) when misused.

This misuse has become as rampant today as it was in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the ancient Greeks who worshiped Eros as a God. The Watchtower noted some time ago that “Today the whole world seems to be committing the same mistake the ancient Greeks did. They worshiped Eros as a god, bowed at his altar and offered sacrifices to him. . . . But history shows that such worship of sexual love only brought degradation, debauchery, and dissolution. Perhaps that is why the Bible writers made no use of the word.” So this writer will side with the Watchtower on why the word eros is not in the scriptures and will also point out that Exodus 20:5 tells us “You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a God who requires exclusive devotion…” and this writer will not serve Eros but Jehovah the God of love.

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