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What Does Storge Love Mean?

What makes a mother willingly put her own life at risk to save her son’s life? What makes a father work so hard, to the point of utter exhaustion, just to provide for his children’s education? What makes a husband give up his own happiness and comfort to take care of his severely ill wife for years, enduring this until the end without giving in to thoughts of regret? What is this kind of love that makes a person overcome all obstacles for the sake of family? The ancient Greeks had a word for this type of love—storge. Storge is distinguished as the kind of love between husband and wife or parents and children and among siblings. The affection it brings comes naturally and instinctively. 

Though you cannot find a word that specifically expresses storge anywhere in the Bible, there are a lot of verses or stories that convey its definition, such as those of Noah and his family, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and his mother, David and his sons, Mary and Jesus, and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, among many others. 

There are also words in the New Testament that contain “storge” but are mixed with other words, such as in Romans 12:10, which says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” The word “affectioned” here, in Greek, is philostorgos, which is a combination of philos (friend) and storge.

The Bible contains a lot of scriptures concerning family values. Two of the ten commandments contain laws that protect the family. The fifth commands children to honor their parents (Exodus 20:12), and the seventh keeps the sanctity of marriage by commanding married couples not to commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Several provisions in the Mosaic law in the Old Testament give a stern warning about deadly penalties for those who violate these commandments (Exodus 21:15, 17 and Leviticus 20:10). The New Testament also includes scriptures about family. Jesus spoke about the sacredness of marriage and spoke against the triviality of divorce (Matthew 19:4-9). In some of his epistles, Paul commands children to obey their parents as to the Lord because it pleases God (Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20). He also commands parents not to provoke their children to anger, or they will be discouraged. Rather, they should bring them up in the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21). Husbands are commanded to love their wives, and wives must submit to their husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:21-28 and Colossians 3:17-19).

It is very clear that God really values family. After all, He is the author of it. He cannot just allow anyone to take it lightly or treat it with contempt. He is very concerned with the welfare of the family unit. Though storge is a very strong kind of love, a lot of times the sense of duty can hamper the sense of companionship, emotional value, and even the spiritual purpose of family. That is why we also have to inject phileo, or friendship love, to do away with the mundanities of family life. Furthermore, eros, or romantic love, should also be thrown into the mix to maintain passion and fervor between couples. 

God’s order of priority in a family relationship is God first, the spouse next, and then finally the children. Why is this so? A family cannot be spiritually healthy if it is spouse-centered, child-centered, or obligation-centered. If Jesus is not the center of it, a family’s standard and capacity to love become shaky. If it prioritizes the children over the spouse, the relationship between husband and wife becomes dull and obligatory, which violates God’s commandment of love and respect. In this case, children will not act with love and respect toward their parents or other people since they do not see it at home. Consequently, it still harms the children’s view of marriage, family, and life altogether. Sadly, families fall apart in divorce or estrangement, and this throws people into the vicious cycle of family dysfunction.

It is essential that we integrate agape, or unconditional, love of God into the family. This allows storge to withstand conflicts and other trials that try to tear the family apart. This becomes possible with total dependence on God through the fruit of the Holy Spirit. There may be a lot of people right now who are already in a broken home and have been suffering the pain and hopelessness this brings. Some may have that feeling of being an orphan in his/her own family, while some may truly have no father or mother. We have to know that nothing is hopeless before God. He also presents Himself to us in storge love. He is a father to the fatherless and cares for the lonely ones in His family (Psalm 68:5-6). Even if parents may forget their children, God never does (Isaiah 49:15). We don’t deserve this kind of love from God because we are rebellious and disrespectful children; for that, we deserve to suffer (Romans 3:12). But because our God is gracious, loving, patient, and compassionate, He gave His one and only son, Who suffered and died on the cross for us, taking all our punishment upon Himself so that we may be adopted into His family. Furthermore, we can now share in His glory and become co-heirs in Christ.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. [16] The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God: [17] And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:15-17 KJV)

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