In descending order of excellence the four loves are:
Agapeo: (ag-uh-pay-oh): Unconditional love; the love of God in the renewed mind coming forth in outward manifestation of selfless benevolence
Storge: Love of family; Parent/child, siblings, cousins, etc.; patriotic love of one's country and people. In a very close family, agape is felt as well
Phileo: Love between friends, and in its highest nobility of loyalty it can express itself in agape
Eros: The sense of being in love; romantic love; also the love of pleasant things that provide sensual enjoyment; the sensually personal physical pleasure of being dedicated to someone or to something, such as a hobby, a cause or a religion, which in extreme forms can become an obsession or addiction.
The naturalist's love of nature and the esthetic beauty of the material creation for its own sake is a form of eros for what God has made. In some cases Wildlife Preservationists and Conservationists have shown themselves capable of agape for living things and the natural environment apart from any love for man or God.
The Greeks believed that Eros was the innocently mischievous offspring of Aphrodite the goddess of beauty and venereal love who pierced mortals with love or hate. In this latter sense it is possible to be consumed with a love of hating someone or something for the love of hating for its own sake. In this former sense it is possible to be consumed with a love of pleasurably stimulating any one or all of the five senses of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. The Roman equivalent of Eros was Cupid, the root of cupidity, the love of the good life, and in particular love of things one would like to have and enjoy for their own sake and sometimes to display proudly. These include for example:
- sights, sounds, and smells of holidays, sports, recreational activities, parties and celebrations, public and private: Hanukkah, Passover, Purim, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, parades, sports competitions and contests
- appreciation of the arts: poetry, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, interior decorating, landscaping, design, fashions, culinary arts, textiles, engineering, gardening, crafts, entertainment
- wonders of nature, of science, of exploration, of history, of mathematics, of philosophical and political debate, of solving puzzles and delving into mysteries of the unknown and unexplained
The word “eros” simply refers to types of passionate or carnal love. Neither this word, nor any other form of it, is used in the New Testament. It is, however, used in the Septuagint in Proverbs 7:18 and 30:16. (The translation in the Hebrew is different in Proverbs 30:16. A comparison of a translation of the Septuagint passage provides the meaning.) Both passages of Proverbs 7:18 and 30:16 indicate carnal/fleshly appetites. Still, it is a mistake to think the New Testament says nothing about various forms of eros, both good and bad. See for example:
- Matthew 11:18-19
- John 2:1-11
- Romans chapter 6; 14:14-23
- 1 Corinthians 6:12-19; 7:1-9; 9:9-14
- Galatians 6:6-10
- 1 Timothy 4:4-5
- 2 Timothy 2:6-7
- Hebrews 13:4 (together with Song of Solomon)
- James 5:5
- 2 Peter 2:12-14
- 1 John 3:17-18
Modern secular culture has debased the classic idea of erotic love and appreciation of pleasant things into the narrow sensual depravity of erotic bodily lust alone and the debased addictive cravings generated by porneia (pornographic pleasure) and "recreational" drugs; not only sexual lust but lust for other things—overeating, gambling, violence, speed, personal indulgence in any one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Willingness to sacrifice and die for such things is not agape-love but perversion of the good into a form of idolatry, which can be debased into the involuntary slavery of mental and physical obsession or addiction.