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I’m your host AMBrewster and if this is the first time you’re joining us, I’d like to welcome you and invite you to listen to all of our podcasts from the beginning. Our content is evergreen because God’s Word is eternally relevant.
Not only that, but as we enter this next phase of our ministry development, many of our previous free resources are going to be removed and replaced with more robust teaching on the same topic. This content will come in the form of online courses, workshops, conferences, and the like. And there will be a price tag for accessing that material.
That’s another great reason to consume the material now.
Of course, if we can get more donors, we’ll be able to continue creating free biblical parenting resources . . . which — if you ask me — would be the coolest way to do things.
Another part of this newest phase is a stronger emphasis on TLP’s parent ministry.
Truth.Love.Parent. is a podcast of Truth.Love.Family. And Truth.Love.Family. is part of a larger organization called Evermind Ministries.
I started Evermind Ministries many, many years ago, and it’s grown from a blog called Taking Back the Bible to a robust family of ministries.
Evermind Ministries includes Truth.Love.Family., The Year Long Celebration of God, and the newest addition is Faithtree Biblical Counseling & Discipleship.
Each of these ministries, and the many more that are in development, are designed to help God’s people Evermind His truth and grow in it.
The Year Long Celebration of God focuses on personal discipleship in our worship of God.
Truth.Love.Family. digs into the various family dynamics including marriage, parenting, and being a Christ-honoring child.
And Faithtree serves God’s people through biblical crisis counseling and discipleship training.
So, I look forward to talking more and more about Evermind Ministries in the coming months, but for now, I hope this excites you about the various ways we’re trying to serve your family by keeping God’s truth at the center of your daily experience.
And — speaking of everminding God’s truth — we have free episode notes, transcripts, and other resources available for you at Truth.Love.Parent.com.
Now, let’s talk about the ever dangerous Fake Family Love.
If you joined me for our Wisdom talk last week then you heard me talk about the fact that our ability to understand the world is tied very closely to our vocabulary.
Wisdom is an app whereby we we can connect live. I can answer your questions, you can add to the conversation, and I can provide counsel. All you have to do is download the app, follow me @AMBrewster, and tune in on Wednesday at 11am EST.
If that time doesn’t work for you to join us live, you can always go back and listen to the Wisdom talks after the fact.
Anyway, last time on Wisdom I was talking about the fact that — in America — we have very few words to describe snow and ice. When I look at ice on a road or a lake, I see it very superficially because I only have a few words in my vocabulary that inform my understanding of ice.
However, in various northern countries, the people who live there have many, many words that all describe different kinds of ice. Such languages have words to describe smooth ice, packed ice, old ice, ice in the sea, drift ice, ice that looks like sand, and there’s even a word that refers to the “crust of ice on snow, formed in the evening after the sun has thawed the top of the snow during the day.”
Some of these people groups have 20, 50, or even 100 different words for ice and snow.
And the result is that these people are able to look at snow and ice with a far more critical and knowledgable eye than the average American who looks at frozen water and only sees “ice.”
As a side note, parents, it’s very wise to equip your children with a large and growing vocabulary. As our vocabularies dwindle, so does our ability to think deeply and broadly about life.
And even better than giving your family a large vocabulary, giving your family a large biblical vocabulary is even more important.
That’s why we’re today we’re starting a discussion about four different kinds of love.
According to ancient Greek speakers, there were four major categories of love. Of those four, three of them made it into the New Testament.
Of those three, two of them are mentioned and illustrated numerous times, but only one is repeatedly and aggressively commanded over and over again.
So, if there are only three loves mentioned in the Bible, why are we going to talk about the fourth Greek understanding of love?
That’s a great question. Here’s why.
Even though only three of the Greek words for love show up in the New Testament, it’s the fourth Greek word — the one that’s not in the Bible — that our world has come to accept as the generally accepted understanding of love.
That is — of course — the reason why I refer to this love as a “Fake Love.” You’ll understand better as we tear this word apart.
But first, let’s take a little bit of time to try to figure out what the world thinks when it uses the word “love.”
Well, Google thinks they know. If you Google “what is love,” the first site to pop up is theanatomyoflove.com. They offer this extended explanation which I’m going to read for you. However, I’m going to change a few words assuming we have a younger audience listening in today.
“Love is involuntary. Brain science tells us it's a drive like thirst. It's a craving for a specific person. It's normal, natural to ‘lose control’ in the early stage of romance. Love, like thirst, will make you do strange things, but knowledge is power. It's a natural addiction, and treating it like an addiction can help you. We were built to fall in love.”
They continue, “The ancient Greeks called love ‘the madness of the gods.’ Modern psychologists define it as it the strong desire for emotional union with another person. But what, actually, is love. It means so many different things to different people. Songwriters have described it, 'Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony.’ Shakespeare said, ‘Love is blind and lovers cannot see.’ Aristotle said, ‘Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.’
“But we think that romance is one of three basic brain systems that evolved for mating and reproduction.”
And then they delineate the three systems. “The drive [to reproduce] or lust — the craving for gratification -- evolved to enable you to seek a range of potential mating partners. After all, you can have relationships with someone you aren’t in love with. You can even feel the drive when you are driving in your car, reading a magazine or watching a movie. Lust is not necessarily focused on a particular individual.”
Their second is, “Romantic love, or attraction— the obsessive thinking about and craving for a particular person -- evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one individual at a time. As Kabir, the Indian poet put it: ‘The lane of love is narrow; there is room for only one.’”
And their final proposed brain system is, “Attachment — the feeling of deep union with a long-term partner -- evolved to enable you to remain with a mate at least long enough to rear a single child through infancy together as a team — although many of us remain together much longer, and enjoy the benefits of life with a partner even when there is no goal to have children.These three brain systems — and feelings — interact in many ways to create our myriad forms of loving.”
Wow. That was painful.
I don’t say that to be unkind; I say that because sin hurts. That definition of love is nowhere to be found in Scripture. In fact, it contradicts nearly everything the Bible reveals about love.
So why did I read it? I read it because we have to be confronted with three important truths.
But even though their definition of love is biblically inaccurate, it aligns perfectly with The Fake Family Love we’re discussing today.
Alright, so the Greek word in question is eros. You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to realize that this word is the root of the English word “erotic.”
And that’s exactly what kind of love this is said to be. Eros is considered a love of passion, an over mastering passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind. It’s a love that requires an emotional involvement based on body chemistry.
Now, many people may say, “Well, that’s not so bad as long as we’re talking about eros within a Christ-honoring marriage.”
Unfortunately, that’s not an accurate understanding of the Greek word nor of the biblical view of love.
First, keep in mind that eros is never once mentioned in the Bible. Many people try to point to passages about passionate love between husband and wife to be an example of eros, but it’s not, and here’s why.
The basic idea of eros love is self-satisfaction. Though the feelings may be aroused by another, this Fake Love actually has self in mind.
We could put it this way, eros love says ”I love you because you make me happy. I love you because of what you do for me.”
Often times when trying to explain how people relate to God, I’ll use this illustration with my counselees. I’m going to use the female version for sake of clarity and ease. If you’re male, just substitute girls for boys.
Anyway . . .
“Let’s say there are four guys who are interested in being your boyfriend. The first is extremely clingy and can’t stand not having a girlfriend. He’s wants to be your boyfriend only because he hates being “alone.” The second guy just wants to be your boyfriend because of your money. The third guy doesn’t really want to be your boyfriend, but his parents told him he should. And the fourth guy wants to be your boyfriend for no other reason than the fact that he really likes you. It’s not because he will get anything out of it.”
Well, you can imagine which boy nearly every girl prefers. And I’m confident that you would make the same choice.
But then I warn my counselee that wanting a relationship with God simply to avoid Hell, or merely so you can gain some perceived benefit from being His child, or just because your parents told you it’s a good idea . . . is eros. It’s Fake Love primarily motivated by the benefits you’ll receive from the relationship. It doesn’t really have anything to do with knowing and serving the other person. It’s just about what the other person does for you including how they make you feel. The foundation of eros love is some characteristic in the other person which pleases you.
But God calls that idolatry.
Now, I know that as I describe eros, I’m describing the exact type of love that many parents encourage their children to have.
Too many people tell their kids to find a boyfriend or girlfriend who will make them happy.
But that concept is nowhere in Scripture!
In fact, what makes this fake eros love even worse is that if the characteristic that originally attracted you would cease to exist, the reason for the love would be gone, and you would stop feeling the eros.
This is why — as a biblical counselor — I encounter so many spouses who say, ”I just don't love them anymore.”
This translates into, “The things about them I liked are gone,” or “The benefit I received from being married to them is gone.”
But Fake Love destroys more than just marriages. This is why siblings really like each other one moment and the next can’t stand each other the next.
Eros looks for what it can receive.
If eros ever does give, it gives only in order to receive.
If eros fails to get what it wants or expects, bitterness or resentment develops.
Now, I understand the difficulty of swallowing what I’m placing before you. So far I haven’t quoted a verse of Scripture or provided you a better definition of love.
In fact, I haven’t yet even suggested what Biblical love looks like, and yet I’m asking you to reject the commonly accepted definition of love in our culture.
And here’s is why . . . everything we do goes back to our philosophy.
Philosophy refers to why you do what you do.
We talked about this in great detail in our Merest Christianity Series when we looked at why your children do what they do. The first part of the series is episode 95. If you haven’t heard it, I strongly encourage you to check it out.
We also did an episode which helped you determine if there are Failure Philosophies in your home, and I’ll give you a link to it in today’s description.
But the Failure Philosophy behind eros is that the “loving” depends on being attracted in some way to another person. It's a conditional type of love. And anyone — saved or unsaved — can experience this type of lust.
Again, please know that God does talk about biblical sexuality and the relationship between husbands and wives, but He never mentions eros in the discussion.
However, He does command us to have other types of love for each other. And even if eros were appropriate between husband and wife, outside of marriage there would be absolutely no room for eros in any relationship.
Now, I do want to quickly clear the air with the adults in the room without opening a can of worms for the children.
I am NOT saying that romance, attraction, and passion are not biblical. They are extremely biblical, necessary in a Christ-Honoring marriage, and holy when lived out to God’s honor and glory.
What I am saying is that lust, selfishness, and using someone to get what you want is always a sin.
Parents, do you relate to your kids one way when they’re doing what you say and then struggle to love them when they’re terrorizing the household?
Kids, do you love the people who make your life comfortable but hate the people who get in your way?
Spouses, is your partner there to serve you, or are you there to serve them — and not because of what you may later get out of it, but simply because it pleases the Lord?
Kids, do you still love your parents even when they have to give you consequences?
The idea that eros is real love is one of the most devious and destructive beliefs in our homes.
And here’s why it’s so dangerous. If I feel eros for my family members — you know, I really like them and there are times we really get along — I might somehow think I’m glorifying God by loving the way I should. But in the end, my interactions with my family are founded on nothing more than selfishness and idolatry.
This does not please the Lord because it doesn’t come from Him.
Any unbeliever can experience eros. In fact, Jesus said the following in Matthew 5:46-47, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
These verses come right after Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. There is no way that eros could ever show genuine love for an enemy.
That’s not how it works.
Now, there is so much more that could be said about this, but I’m trying to keep this series positive. I don’t really want to dwell on all the wrong definitions and bad philosophies. I’d rather spend our whole time staring at the amazing grandeur that is true biblical love.
Instead of studying counterfeits, I want to immerse myself in the authentic.
But, I knew I couldn’t do this study justice until I addressed a number of misconceptions in our home. That’s why this episode is so necessary.
Calling eros the Fake Love is accurate, but it’s really too nice of a title. Eros has more in common with biblical hate than it does biblical love. Eros is using someone for the benefit you receive.
Now, if you know very little about God and the Bible, what I’m saying probably sounds crazy!
If you don’t believe in God, there is nothing more important for which to live than your own happiness. Clearly, it doesn’t make sense to love someone who doesn’t benefit you. Even helping homeless people only has value as it makes you feel good about yourself for being a good citizen.
But, as followers of Christ, we must not be motivated by selfishness.
In Philippians 2:3 God says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
James 3:16 tells us, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” That word “vile” just means “worthless” or “bad.”
Are there worthless, bad, or wicked things going on in your home? Well, they’re not there because of genuine, biblical love. They’re there because eros didn’t get what it wanted.
A chapter later James gives us the perfect picture of eros. I discussed it in great detail in episode 127 about why people are so violent these days, but I’ll sum it up here by saying that conflicts and fights arise because we want something and we don’t get it.
God calls that spiritual adultery. It’s hate. But it’s also eros.
Please don’t let this Fake Love, this “lust that takes,” take any more from your family. Reject selfish lust, and join us next time as we start studying the beneficial loves God does want us to have.
And please share this episode with your friends. Eros is tearing families apart all over the world. Let’s join together to shine the light and help people see the kind of love that kills and the kind of love that heals.
As always, I encourage you to check out the episode notes linked in the description. They’re not nearly as robust as the last set of notes, but it should help your family as you learn to truly love each other.
And I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to thrive in life and godliness. The world has no idea what love is, but God — the Creator of love — God — the One who is love Himself — has everything our families need to be a haven of true love.
To that end, we’ll be discussing the Natural Family Love.
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