What is love? That is probably one of life’s questions that is most frequently asked. Most will first associate the question with romantic love. If you look for answers about love in the secular world, you will find myriad definitions and opinions based on human philosophy and personal experiences. This article looks into one of the Greek definitions of love, Eros. In fact, the term comes from the name of the mythic Greek God of love, Eros, who in Latin is called Cupid. This is where the English word “erotic” came from. This kind of love has to do with but is not limited to romantic feelings and sexual intimacy.
We will dedicate this discussion to a biblical perspective of Eros. First off, it must be made clear that the eros kind of love is not basically sinful or worldly but beautiful in the eyes of God if done within the bounds of biblical standards. In fact, His gift to mankind contributes to the enjoyment of marriage, which He instituted. Sadly, the world and man’s sinful nature have twisted it into a very shallow understanding and application without proper boundaries or standards in place. This is both idolatrous (since it makes a person bow down to immoral pleasures and seek them like a god) and adulterous because it makes a person turn away from a loving relationship with God and choose to lust for flesh. People who fall prey to the world’s idea of romantic love follow a vain pursuit and end up in a life of discontent and shame.
After the first marriage in the garden of Eden, God “blessed” Adam and Eve and told them to “be fruitful, increase in number, and subdue the whole earth (Genesis 1:28).” ln other words, God told man to have lots of Eros, or how else could they multiply and fill the earth. Since God created everything “good” and man He saw as “very good,” then we could say that the original and pure purpose of Eros was entirely “good.” Then man sinned, as Adam and Eve wandered away from the allowed into the prohibited. That disobedience caused man to feel shame and guilt and suffer condemnation. Ever since, we’ve been treating the original purpose of eros love with contemptuous and deviant acts of sexual immorality. Fornication or sexual immorality is translated in the New Testament from the Greek word porneia, from which the English word “pornography” is derived. Sadly, man turned God’s pure and beautiful purpose of Eros into detestable porneia.
Sexual immorality happens when a man or a woman engages in sexual relations outside marriage, including any action, viewing, or even thought (Matthew 5:28) in relation to sex. Scripture tells us to honor marriage and keep the marriage bed pure, for God brings judgment upon adulterers and the sexually immoral (Hebrews 13:4). Since our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and Jesus now owns it, as He has bought us with His blood, we must keep ourselves from being defiled by sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:13-20). Maintaining the sanctity of Eros applies even to people who are engaged. In 1 Corinthians 7:36-37, Paul recognizes the difficulty of an engaged man dealing with pent-up sexual urges and recommended that it would be the right thing to do to marry the one he is engaged to if he cannot control his passion for sexual intimacy. Our bodies should exclusively be for God’s honor and for our spouse. We are too precious to God to be degraded by porneia.
Eros, when done in marriage is a beautiful act. It is God’s gift for those who enter the godly covenant of marriage. It allows married couples to enjoy the act of procreation without shame and guilt. Scripture even encourages husbands and wives to not deprive each other of Eros, for them to be protected from porneia, except for mutual consent and a time to devote for prayer (1 Corinthians 7:2-6). However, Eros is not just about sexual intimacy but also romantic love. One cannot just be sexually intimate with one’s spouse without love and respect. The Bible commands husbands to love their wives, just as Christ loved the church and laid down His life for her, and wives should submit to their husbands, as the church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:21-33).
God’s boundaries in Eros are beneficial and can build up life, but can also be destructive without them. Though we talk about God’s rigid standards about sexual purity, which can make a person feel guilty, it is not the goal of this article to condemn people. The ultimate point here is to lead everyone to God, who forgives and restores. A person’s purity may have been compromised, but that doesn’t mean they are beyond the reach of God’s grace. God does not require us to pay for all the sins we have committed before He can forgive; he already paid the penalty of our sins by dying on the cross for us (1 Peter 2:24). We no longer have to carry the impossible burden of shame and guilt. God wants us to humble ourselves and confess our sins to Him, for He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins and is able to restore our purity (1 John 1:8-9). By His grace, though we are tainted by sin, He changes our status from someone who is condemned to someone who is redeemed and from one who is filthy and useless to one who is righteous and newly created. God’s love for man is all-encompassing, such that no one is unreachable by His love and mercy. (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)