This month, in view of the theme of “Relationships,” I have chosen poems that exemplify four of the koine Greek words that depict the idea of love in the New Testament: eros, agape and philia and storge. C. S. Lewis described these in his book The Four Loves (which, by the way, exists also in audio form as one of the few examples of his recorded voice.)
Philia, Brotherly Love
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
~ Hebrews 12:1
Like two children
In a three-legged race
We are bound together
As we run
The wind around us
The shouting of the crowd
We are consumed by
The rhythm of our striding,
By what lies ahead
All that really matters now
Is that we keep step
With each other
Paul recognized the importance of unity—not just at the level of the Body, but also harmony between individuals. He taught that the way to achieve that harmony was not through compromise with one another, but by compliance to God’s way of doing things. In Galatians he told us, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (5:25). We will keep step with each other to the exact degree that we keep step with God.
Storge: Parental Love
I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men,
because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
~ 1 John 2:14
This writhing inside me entreats in silence,
Groping for words through lips that have never spoken.
Child of few yesterdays and all tomorrows:
Through the muffled stillness of the waters,
Only the echo of my blood rushes through
Hollowing chambers to you.
(“Eye hath not seen nor ear heard. . .”
And yet, I know you.
Why can you not speak as I speak?
Will your love ever match mine?
Will the light of birth open
Your unused eyes to my yearning?)
I, too, move restlessly through terrestrial waters
As conscious of self as a child
Struggling against a mercantile world. Above, a
Father waits for me
Reaching through beating waves of sound
Patiently waiting for me to
See as I have been seen, to
Know as I have been known;
Wanting me to
Push my way out of this dark world-womb
Into His light.
How He waits for us to come to our senses, to truly embrace our reborn status, to see as we are seen, to know as we are known!
Eros: Sexual or Romantic Love
Sustain me with raisins;
refresh me with apples,
for I am sick with love.
His left hand is under my head,
and his right hand embraces me!
~ Song of Solomon 2: 5-6
It is not flesh, nor beauty
Nor strength nor flashes of any sort.
And now it is not, can not be
Hope or possibilities or potentials,
For their time has passed.
It is not flesh nor beauty
Nor weaknesses nor thunders.
And, that it is not now,
And, that it has endured:
It never was those things.
And only now can that
Unmistakably be seen.
It is a hook in a heart
And a hook in a heart
And ligatures between them
Where pain is only relieved
When one rests
Against the other.
In an almost paradoxical way, eros love which is so bound up in the body’s needs and sensations finds its fullness, fruition, and perfection when it endures for years, for decades, even past the time of the body’s call and finds its home in agape love.
Agape: In the Best Interests of Others
Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
~ Luke 23:28-31
They are singing, all around me,
A cross that is old and rugged.
I am speechless, songless,
Stunned by a thought I can hardly bear:
What if the wood were new,
And His blood mingled with
The sap of that tree
Which itself was alive the day before,
Each one dying
For the other
The interconnection of Christ with the world He’d created should never be taken lightly. He told us that no sparrow, no flower of the field (and by extension, no created thing) is beyond His notice. His sacrifice for us didn’t cost only Him—the earthquakes at His death, the anguish of the Roman soldier who watched, the despair of the disciples—all mourned for Him. And even though we know He’s risen, we must mourn as well for the sin that put Him on that cross.
Dr. Latayne C. Scott is the recipient of Pepperdine University’s Distinguished Christian Service Award for “Creative Christian Writing,” and is Trinity Southwest University’s Author in Residence. Her newest book is Talking with Teens about Sexuality: Critical Conversations about Social Media, Gender Identity, Same-Sex Attraction, Pornography, Purity, Dating, Etc. with Dr. Beth Robinson (Bethany Books.) The author of over two dozen published books, including Passion, Power, Proxy, Release (TSU Press) in which three of these poems appear, she lives and writes in New Mexico. She maintains two websites: Latayne.com and Representationalresearch.com.