Did you know that in the beginning Valentine’s Day was celebrated because of martyred love? According to Wikipedia.org, historical facts outline numerous early Christian martyrs named Valentine. Saint Valentine of Rome was one of the first to be martyred for his unwillingness to convert to Roman paganism. Instead he declared his allegiance to Christianity and was executed. Yet, before his execution, legend has it that Valentine performed a miracle by healing the jailer’s blind daughter, Julia and writing a letter to her signed “Your Valentine.”
Many other legends have grown out of this sense of sacrificial, martyred love. Yet today, in modern times, we celebrate Valentine’s Day from the perspective of amorous, erotic love. The question I have is this: Do we really know the difference between Eros and Agape love?
When I attended university and studied Philosophy, I learned about Eros and Agape love. Eros is “erotic love” that comes from a physical attraction to each other, thinking he or she looks great, and we want to be with that one to satisfy our physical desires. It is a self-centered love because at its center is the satisfaction of one’s own pleasure. There is a strong pull for erotic love because of the desire to please or satisfy oneself, thinking our fulfillment will come in meeting this desire. Erotic love makes me “happy.” Erotic love only sees the best qualities in a relationship, and it neither sees nor learns to accept another’s bad qualities or faults.
Agape love is unconditional love that is also sacrificial love. One partner makes a choice to give to another partner even if they get nothing in return. Agape love is God-centered, based on the sacrificial love of Christ when he gave his life for us. It is the highest form of love, above eros. It is a type of spiritual love. I believe God desires his children to learn this type of love. His son’s life on this earth is a perfect example of how we ought to live and love. We can go through many trials and tribulations as a couple, each partner making deliberate self sacrifices, in order to learn agape love. However, in the end, it is the most beautiful “love experience” on earth. When a couple reach this level of love, it is usually unending love. Couples who live together for a lifetime will invariably say they have shared agape love.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”
(John 15:13 NASB).