Part two of my five part series entitled “Who Do You Love?”
Eros is definitely the “I love the way he looks in a bathing suit” kind of love. Eros is the desiring and passionate kind of love. It’s about sparks flying and heart rates going up. In a marriage relationship, eros can be a fantastic and beautiful thing.
The ancient Greeks described eros as that love between a man and a woman which is neither planned nor willed. Put another way, the Greeks saw eros as something uncontrollable. Eros is considered to be the most primitive kind of love. Because of its primitive nature, it can be seen as imperfect and misguided at times. It’s been compared to the instincts of an animal. It’s the type of instinct that we see all around us in popular culture today. People excuse their desires as something that is outside of their control. People blame everything else for their lack of willpower.
A well known evangelical Christian in the US was recently in the papers for his inability to control his desires. Ted Haggard is a married man and he came under fire for his extra-marital sexual encounters. This has been a difficult time for Ted Haggard. His family has suffered, and I’m sure still suffers today, from this difficult situation. The activity at the root of this is an example of eros, this passionate, desirable type of love.
The problem with eros is that it can sometimes be irrational. It can be destructive when pursued without considering the consequences.
Additionally, eros can be fleeting. Physical pleasures don’t last forever. We all age. Our emotions change over time. There is something impermanent about eros. Even though eros has a beautiful and seductive side to it, it doesn’t last forever.
But most importantly, we need to consider what eros represents. Desire and passion is about what we want. It is a selfish emotion based on our own wants and needs. In today’s day and age, people tend to confuse sex and love. No more are relationships about loving that other person. Love is confused with lust. In these situations, people turn into objects of affection. Men and women become objects of affection instead of individuals that have feelings, emotions, wants and needs.
When we replace love with lust, we run the risk of wanting someone, in much the same way that we might want a car, or a new cell phone or maybe even concert tickets. Do we really love people in the same way that we drool over the latest gadget?
With eros, the important building blocks of good community are forgotten. In eros, the relationship is built on the phrase, “What’s in it for me?” At its base, eros, as the most primitive form of love, is considered to be self-serving and selfish.
Coming up next: Part 3: Philia – friendship love