We live in a “Netflix and chill” society.
If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s code for going to your “bae’s” house for a “hook-up” while having Netflix play in the background. And with apps like Tinder and Score, it makes it even easier. All you have to do is swipe right.
But once the credits start rolling or once you close the Tinder app, then what? Is that it? Just move on to the next person? That can’t be it, right? The whole point of relationships are to be in, well, relationships.
So what is it that we’re really looking for? Whether we realize it or not, even casual hook-ups are a search for love. It’s just that our culture would argue that sex can offer the most efficient way in finding it. But that’s not really true. And “love” is a much more complicated word than we even realize. The Greeks, for example, had three words to describe it. The English language only has one!
By looking at how the Greeks used it, I think there’s a lot we could learn about relationships and the role sex plays in them.
The idea that sex, on its own, can be the most efficient avenue to finding and experiencing love reflects a very narrow view of what love is and how it’s found.
EROS: This is the type of love that our culture promotes the most. Eros is the “desire” part of love that says, “I want this person…now!” It also provides that needed spark in our hormones to inspire mutual attraction and desire. Don’t get me wrong, eros love is awesome, but while this type of love burns hot and fast, it doesn’t have the strength to carry true love on its own. So we have to see this expression of love and sexual attraction for what it is: a launching pad for a journey, not the destination.
PHILEO: Once the fire of an Eros type of love has died down, phileo is the type of love that goes beyond just physical attraction and desire. Phileo love goes deeper. It fuels the relational bond between two people. Phileo is the “feeling” type of love. It’s not based on sexual desire, but instead, it moves more into a committed and fulfilling type of love. This is the type of love that allows two people to experience true friendship. Phileo creates a bond that goes beyond the external and moves towards the heart.
AGAPE: John Mayer has a song called “Love is a Verb.” Agape love is more than a feeling, it’s love “in action.” Whether our culture sees it or not, agape love is what we’re ultimately searching for. Agape love, in its truest expression, is unconditional love. Bob Goff, the author of “Love Does,” says, “…the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” It’s loving even when you don’t “feel” like it.
Agape love doesn’t scheme or manipulate to have its own interests met, but only seeks to selflessly love another – no strings attached. Agape love says, “I Am Second.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, sex can be a beautiful expression of love, since the same one whose very name is love (God) created it. But the idea that sex, on its own, can be the most efficient avenue to finding and experiencing love reflects a very narrow view of what love is and how it’s found.
Great eros is best experienced when phieleo and agape are its foundation in marriage, which sets the stage for eros to fully express itself in a way that a “Netflix and chill” experience never could.
David Martin (@realDavidMartin) is the youth and culture strategist for I Am Second.