There are many different forms of love.
For this article, I would like to focus on two types: Eros and Agape.
Eros is erotic love. It is the conditional love we see on movies. When a man sees a attractive woman in the coffee shop, he feels eros towards her body and what she could offer him in material value, and vice versa.
On the complete opposite spectrum, there is Agape or divine love.
Agape is pure. It will sacrifice everything. It will endure anything. It is invincible. Wow. Who wouldn’t want Agape? It carries a strength that the base beast-like eros simply cannot provide.
Unfortunately, Agape is easier imagined than performed.
Could you feel Agape if someone cheated you?
Could you feel Agape if someone ignored or annoyed you?
Could you feel Agape if someone offered you no material value and placed burdens upon your life?
The modern world, though it talks incessantly about love, has almost totally murdered love. A stable marriage, much less a happy one, even less a joyful one is a rarity, the exception, not the rule. What was Vanauken’s secret?
His answer is surprisingly mundane: work. “We kept our love only because we worked at it.” Love will not grow in modern fields without constant work. The soil is no longer rich. Perhaps the soil was never rich, but the people used to be prepared to work at it. In any case, love cannot last today unless the lovers are prepared for lifelong work. And that necessarily involves sacrifice – at least sacrifice of all the other things that you could be doing instead.
Work also requires patience – a increasingly rare commodity in our fast-food, instant-replay, live-for-the-present age. You cannot grow any fruit without patience. There are no instant apples (111).
How comfortable “humanity” is? “Humanity” never shows up at your door at the most inconvenient times. “Humanity” is not quarrelsome, alcoholic, or fanatical. “Humanity” never has the wrong political, religious, and sexual opinions. “Humanity” is never slimy, swarmy, smarmy, smelly, or smutty. “Humanity” is so ideal that one could easily die for it. But to die for your neighbor, to die for Sam Slug or Mehetibel Crotchit – unthinkable. Except for love (123).
Peter Kreeft, Three Philosophies of Life
Now, I do not think we should strive for Agape.
If Sam Slug acts in crude ways, then he does not deserve to be showered with love – even the kindest judge must show discretion.
However, I do think that Sam Slug still deserves a form of love.
[Original Painting by John William Waterhouse]