Loving Your Spouse with Spirit, Soul, and Body
They shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24
The Bible contains three different Greek words for love that reinforce for us the dimensions of marital intimacy. We often discuss each of these words with couples who are looking for improvement in their marriages.
The word agape is used in the New Testament to describe the attitude of God toward His Son (John 17:26), toward humanity (John 3:16), and toward those who believe in His Son (John 14:21). Agape is then used to convey God's desire that believers share this love with others (John 13:34). This kind of love is shown through action, commitment, and giving—not through its feeling. It is an expression of God's Spirit and is impossible to produce through self-will. The practical encouragement for couples concerning agape love is that each person freely receive it, then freely give it to their spouse.
The word phileo is distinguished from agape in that it speaks of tender affection and represents the emotional aspect of a relationship. Phileo love refers to two hearts being knit together in tenderness and mutual companionship. This is the love with which couples affectionately cherish one another. Phileo love can be nurtured best by intentionally deepening the relationship through dates, sharing of common interests, getaway times, and other times together.
Finally, erns is the word from which the English word erotic comes. This love speaks of sensual fulfillment through the physical pleasures of sexual expression. Throughout Scripture God has set up for us the boundary of confining these sexual pleasures to the marriage relationship (see Hebrews 13:4).
What a blessing it is to share these three loves with the person to whom we have committed ourselves for life!
In what specific ways can you express these three types of love to your spouse today?
Heavenly Father, help us enjoy our love for each other so we can testify to Your plan for marriage.