Chaplain (Maj.) Stephen M. Hommel
Brigade Chaplain, 500th Military Intelligence Bde.
Valentine’s Day is really not one of my favorite holidays, so frankly, I am kind of glad it is over. I have even heard some of the more unromantic guys refer to Valentine’s Day as “Extortion Day.”
Gasp! Yes, ladies, I know.
Personally, I would not go that far, but like a lot of guys, I think it is a rather one-sided holiday.
It seems like Valentine’s Day is primarily a romantic holiday for the ladies. And, as a man, if you are not sufficiently romantic on Feb.14, there are bound to be tears, hurt feelings and probably several nights on the couch.
Now, for you guys who are still in the blush of a new relationship — on your honeymoon or very in touch with your feelings, this article is probably not for you. It is for the rest of us brutes who purposely missed that very special Valentine’s Day episode on Oprah.
As a guy who used to think it would be a good idea to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Feb. 15, you know, to take advantage of all the sales — she never went for it — what helps me to celebrate Valentine’s Day, on the proper day, and in a way that produces tears of joy in my wife’s lovely eyes, is to remember that love is more than a feeling. It is a decision.
If you really want to know about love, the best place to look is in the Bible. In fact, in the language of the New Testament, there are four different words for love, and while romance, or “eros,” is an important part of love, it is not nearly as important as our popular culture makes it out to be.
The most important aspect of love, the kind of love that grows stronger, deeper and more wonderful over the years, has, in fact, little to do with the popular notions of romance.
In English, we have one word for love, but in the detail and precision of the original “Koine Greek” of the New Testament and Septuagint, there are four words for love: “storge,” “eros,” “philia” and “agape.”
Briefly defined, storge is the love of family and home, philia is friendship, and eros is romance and sexual love.
When people talk about “falling in love,” that is eros, and to a lesser extent, philia.
When people say they have “fallen out of love,” that is also eros.
The first three loves are based on the emotions, and are therefore affected and governed by all the pressures of life and how a person might feel at any given time.
The final love, the greatest of the loves, is agape.
Agape is a decision to love. It is all about giving, not about getting.
As C.S. Lewis said in “Mere Christianity,” “Love, in the agape sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state, not of the feelings, but of the will.”
It is a commitment to seek the other person’s highest good and to sacrificially put his or her needs above your own.
One of the best things about agape, especially in marriage, is that when you love, even when you do not feel like it, at some point, you really do start feeling it.
And when the emotions do kick in, they will be deeper, richer and more lasting.
Agape is not the kind of love that you can fall out of, or that simply wears off or gets stale like last year’s candy hearts.
Agape is the foundation for all the other loves, and grows stronger, sweeter and more precious over time.