Reclaiming Romantic Love… CS Lewis on “Eros”

For those of you who have been dreading talking to your kids about romantic love, or “EROS” as described by the Greeks… don’t be. In our western culture, Eros /Love  has been hijacked by the concept of something sexual, or EROTIC, and for parents it’s not a comfortable word to be using around the house… but believe me…nothing could be further from the words intended meaning.

It is critical for us as parents to communicate to our kids what was intended in love, Eros love is one that cherishes an individual as unique and matchless, as BELOVED in their value. Much more than just the attainment of a moment of pleasure with an available and willing member of the opposite sex. This love is one of the four foundational loves and the most critical of any romance leading to marriage.

Working through the four loves, it’s impossible to miss the order in which CS Lewis introduces us to their foundational truth. AFFECTION, natural and common is the love we have between common circumstance and need, FRIENDSHIP is more than just a companion or acquaintance and requires a common mission or shared belief to exist as described by the Greeks, who used the word Phileo.

It’s clear that for a true friendship to form, a deep affection will be naturally already present. The same with Eros or Romantic Love, for such love to develop, affection and friendship are necessary prior ingredients. Without those present, you have only ‘lust” or Venus like emotions of sexually focused and selfish satisfaction.

Eros Love calls to us from the words of CS Lewis in this great quote… “Now EROS makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.” (p 136 – Four Loves) To further clarify the difference between EROS and lust, he (CS Lewis) offers this comment “Without Eros, sexual desire like every other desire is a fact about ourselves. Within Eros it is rather about the Beloved.” What an important reminder for us all.

It’s amazing how far our understanding of love can be redirected by society. Not surprising though when you stop to consider how much consumer marketing has used the sexuality and beauty of love to sell stuff and promise fulfilment at the same time, IF we buy their product. Branding and marketing have moved beyond the intended meaning of Eros love as being set on one irreplaceable love, and makes it a goal to gain as much interest and sexual attention as possible so that we can “pick” our best option for our own pleasure. It’s painful to understand that the pure nature of Eros love is tainted by this modern definition, it undermines the very sense of the set – apartness of love, until we start to think that EROS is a dirty word, or some kind of sexual innuendo to hide ourselves and our kids from.

The truth is this… Eros represents the love of God towards man. He is fixated on us individually, specifically, He considers us to be His BELOVED. No ONE else will do, He is captivated by our beauty, by our unique and irreplaceable worth… it’s only the third of the four love words the Greeks had to describe love, and the bible reflects those words in a myriad of ways to begin to paint a beautiful portrait of God’s “Feelings” towards us. His commitment to honor and love and pursue us forever. No wonder it’s been co-opted by our enemy to become something tarnished and dirty and shameful. It’s time we take it back!

So the next time love comes up in the discussion with your blushing pre-teen or teen… take some time to review Eros Love with them and reset their understanding of Gods version of true love. Or… just for fun…watch one of my favorite 90’s films, the classic”Princess Bride” in which an idiot priest character will educate everyone at the wedding on the proper way to express and enunciate “Twwrooo Wuvv” 🙂

We can help to set the record straight for our kids and their friends to re-evaluate the dating concept from top to bottom. Affection, Friendship and Romantic Love. In that order. AGAPE’ is the fourth and final love and it is the glue that holds all love and our lives  supernaturally together, and it can’t be found within us or anywhere on this earth, its only source is in Jesus Christ.

To share that supernatural form of love (Agape), we will have to share a common Savior and Lord. Approximately 50% of our marriages are ending in Divorce in and out of the Church. That’s implies that we have not grasped the underlying truth about love and it’s intended progressive nature. Some of us have learned painfully that our own ability to love is sometimes simply not enough… without a common faith center to our lives, we are vulnerable to a similiar outcome. For others who may feel they have failed at love…, Redeemption is on its way! Hang in there, God loves to restore what we have lost. Love can be re-born, but be careful to follow the same path progression for love to grow deeply and in union with you faith, not as an exception to it.

I believe it falls on us as parents to first guard our own marriages and then clearly express the plan of Romantic Love to our kids before they allow their hearts to make promises their lives will never be able to endure.

Peace out fellow parents… and I was serious, pop some corn this saturday night and take the time with your spouse & kids to check out the movie “Princess Bride“, its a great movie to share with your teens as you look for strategies to bring up ways to discuss this most critical life issue.


PS – As a biblical exercise… Consider taking a new look at the Song of Solomon in the scriptures with the added insight of mankind being in the text as God’s “Beloved” and it will come alive with a whole new meaning for you. The poetry moves beyond a simple metaphor between Solomon and his lover and becomes instead a metaphor for God to mankind. Something beautiful and precious and sacred, yet so tangible for us to recognize in our own lives.

One thought on “Reclaiming Romantic Love… CS Lewis on “Eros”

  1. For those who have failed at marriage, ( I was an unwilling partner in a mid life crisis divorce with a “Devout Catholic”) another book that came to life and read like a novel is in the deuterocanonical book Tobit:
    The prayer Tobias prays before use of the wedding chamber (consummating the union) with his new bride is one of the most beautiful prayers a man could pray to involve God in the bedroom. Tobit chapter 8

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