The Beatles had it exactly right: “All You Need Is Love.” What they did not understand is that there are four very important—but very different—kinds of love.
In a 60-second Super Bowl commercial, New York Life shows us more about love than you might get in a semester of anthropology, sex education, sociology or theology.
C.S. Lewis championed these four types of love in his books The Four Loves and Till We Have Faces.
Storge love, family ties and loyalty, can be a bedrock for self-confidence and an oasis in struggle. Yet if it is your main diet, it is like eating Wheaties three meals a day—boring.
Philia love, friendship or fellowship around a common interest, provides our team through life and when cultivated, allows us to turn colleagues and neighbors into allies and even friends. When people say, “Friends are the family we build for ourselves,” they are talking about Philia love. If it is your main diet, you have a rich network of relationships, but you will not become who you are meant to be.
Eros love, romantic attraction, can be a rocket fuel for happiness and creativity. Yet if it is your main diet, it is like living on Red Bull, Monster or Rock Star three meals a day—nutritionally hollow. Eros can tilt toward a life of me, me, me. Relationships that exist on Eros do not last.
Agape love, gives and then gives some more. Agape love is all about the other person. How can you help, how can you serve, how can you help your friend or family member achieve their dream? The Super Bowl commercial uses the key words: courage, sacrifice, strength. This is love that satisfies. If agape love is your main diet, this is the top of the love pyramid, and you will have as much of the other loves as you need. When Jesus of Nazareth said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34), the Bible does not say Storge, Philia or Eros. When Jesus says, “Love,” the Bible says Agape.
Learning to love with Agape is the person you are destined to become.