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smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 2:37 PM

LOVE IS.....

The following quote by Salzypat raised a number of "philosophical" questions in me. I started to wonder about this after reading the "four loves" by C.S. Lewis as a youth.

Salzypat replied: It seems to me that part of the basis for some of your non-beliefs is that you are over-thinking the issue. When your spouse or partner says to you, "I love you," you accept that statement with faith that he or she truly loves you.

The first of course had to with the debate in Faith vs. Rationality. The second is the question, What is love?

Actually Salzy, when my spouse or partner says, "I love you", I don't accept that statement with faith that she truly loves me. My mind begins to wonder, "What in the world does that mean?" Dumb, right? What is "love" to you? Is it a feeling, an action, or some combination of both??

Personally, I'm of the opinion that viewing that love as primarily an action rather than a feeling is a "better" view to hold. You may not think that there is much of a debate here, but the debate strikes at the root of many modern problems.

Ever encounter someone from another country who happened to get an "arranged" marriage? I've held several conversations with a few of these arranged marriage women. The two in particular that I spoke with viewed the "feminist" view that such marriages are "rape" as laughable. Of course such arguments seem to rest on the assumption that the "western" romantic notion of love is not only accurate but "true".

I'm not the only one who holds my minority view on this one, but the thread starter is, well, what is love exactly?

Salzy, since you were the inspiration for the thread starter, as a Christian, I would ask you when Jesus tells you to "love" your neighbor, what does he mean? Is he telling you to feel good things about them? Or to treat them decently? Or some combination in between (or some other alternative)?

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 2:59 PM

....a warm gun?

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 3:11 PM

I'm sorry Danny, I was trying to be serious, but that was LOL funny! Hahaha....

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 4:24 PM

I'll add more later, but perhaps to "legitimize" the discussion a bit, I should bring up its "roots" in romanticism.

For example, "It was the romantics who first celebrated romantic love as the natural birthright of every human being, the most exalted of human sentiments, and the necessary foundation of a successful marriage. Whether or not one agrees that this change of attitude was a wise one, it must be admitted to have been one of the most influential in the history of the world.

This is not the place to trace the long and complex history of how the transcendent, irrational, self-destructive passion of a Romeo and Juliet came to be considered the birthright of every European citizen; but this conviction which continues to shape much of our thinking about relationships, marriage, and the family found its mature form during the Romantic age. So thoroughly has love become identified with romance that the two are now generally taken as synonyms, disregarding the earlier associations of "romance" with adventure, terror, and mysticism."

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/romanticism.html

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 6:42 PM

Agape is the form of love in the Christian Church most aspired to. When you can have a deep love and concern for your fellow man/woman,without the family,sexual or any other connection. To be able to love even the unlovable, the vilest of humans is to be able to hate the actions of those who would do evil to us or others, while still loving the person abiding in their life circumstances. Jesus said that you cannot hate a person while claiming to love another, that real love exists in the heart without malice towards anyone.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 8:08 PM

I guess if we are going in the direction of Christianity, one would have to wonder what Christ's meaning of the word implies. I'll go into a discussion about a few of the views of modern Christian authors on the topic in regards to romantic love, and we'll go from there.

James Dobson:
Q. Is it possible to love someone and not feel it?
A. It certainly is - because love is more than a feeling. It's primarily a decision. Couples who misunderstand this point will have serious problems when feelings of love disappear for a time. Couples who genuinely love each other will experience times of closeness, times of emotional distance, and times when they are irritated and cranky. That's just the way emotions operate. A couple's source of constancy must be a commitment of the will. You simply make up your mind not to be controlled by fluctuating and unreliable emotions.


Scott Peck:
On the topic of love he discusses the difference between being "in love" and love. He notes that love is not a feeling, but an activity, and defines it as "the willingness to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one's own and another's spiritual growth." He bemoans the rampant notion of romantic love that pervades society today, which holds that one is not truly in love unless one feels those incredible "I'm in love" feelings that we all know so well. He observes, "Many, many people possessing a feeling of love and even acting in response to that feeling act in all manner of unloving and destructive ways. On the other hand, a genuinely loving individual will often take loving and constructive action toward a person he or she consciously dislikes..."
He teaches to be suspect of the familiar "in love" feeling for two reasons: 1) "The experience of falling in love is specifically a sex-linked erotic experience," which he believes may be genetically coded in us to insure the perpetuation of the species; and 2) "The experience of falling in love is invariably temporary...the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterizes the experience of falling in love always passes."

The view put forward by these two authors, though perhaps the selections I chose off the internet does not make this entirely clear in the case of Peck, is that love for these two authors in the context of romantic relationships seems to be a combination between "the will" to commit and a rational decision, rather than "feelings". I'm wondering if the primacy given to feelings in our "modern" western culture is problematic in regards to romantic relationships, perhaps even fatal.

I do not clearly remember the concept of Agape, it's been awhile. Wikipedia offered this "Christian" version.
"Agape has been expounded on by many Christian writers in a specifically Christian context. Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as "an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being.""

So out of todays notions concerning "romance" and on to a discussion of Jesus. If you were to "love" your neighbor as yourself, would a "feeling" of love necessarily have to be present? Could you perhaps feel indifferent and "decide" to act on behalf of another in a "helpful" way, and would that then be considered "love", despite the absence of love feelings regarding the individual? I can see how helpful a "different" conception of love would be in the context of romantic relationships, but not exactly sure how this "different" view of love would apply to Jesus' command to love your neighbor......



smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 8:15 PM

Oops, I said, "love for these two authors in the context of romantic relationships seems to be a combination between "the will" to commit and a rational decision, rather than "feelings". I should have said, "rather than primarily feelings". I always leave out things on those big posts....(sigh). My basic question than would be what role do "feelings" play in either the Christian view on love or your own particular view on love??

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 9:25 PM

Love...such a big BIG word.

Love is an emotion, uncontrived, intense, and without expectations...whether it's god, fellow man, your child, your mate. It is joy in and of itself. Pure and simple.

Definitions of love and clarifications, expectations, and practice all depend on the relationship. All expectations and perspectives within any given relationship are from experience, cultural and direct. In other words...the answer to that is unique to each individual and relationship.

So I guess the answer I would propose is simple.
Love is.



luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 9:32 PM

And I forgot to add...now you have to figure out what to do with it. Could be an exciting journey or hell or both. You have to make it what you want to.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 10:11 PM

Hmmm, perhaps. I'm not saying per se that love isn't an emotion. In fact by modern dictionary definitions if we are going to use the word, we would have to assume that is the case, though various definitions also state it can be an action as well.

I view the distinction, the longing for an accurate definition, as an issue of vital importance when it comes to "practical" theology. Quite frankly the idea that a particular emotion can last a "lifetime" seems a bit absurd based off of what I've read regarding how emotions work. Emotions are produced in the body by chemicals, which if I remember right run off of a cycle that go up and down. I'm not even sure its physiologically possible to have a particular emotion endure throughout a lifetime....I wouldn't know if course but it doesn't seem likely based off of what I've read anyways.

The practical consequence of how you view love in the context of a marriage, (for a Christian anyways), is very important because it can have an influence on your decisions. If love is a feeling merely, then what do you do if you don't feel it anymore? Do you leave? Isn't that against God's commands? Why did Jesus or Paul not say you could leave if you dont "love" them anymore then, if it were that important? James Dobson in particular counsels in his private practice that you shouldn't leave....love the emotion will come back in time.

The practical consequences regarding spirituality are this: If you don't feel love towards somebody, how do you respond? One Christian woman, for example who admitted she never questioned what exactly love is, told me her spirituality works as follows: You first feel love towards somebody and the emotion "moves you" towards acts of kindness. Perhaps that is how it works sometimes, but wouldn't the logical outcome of such a view mean that when you don't feel love you aren't moved to help somebody? According to her, Yes. Certainly such questions would be relevant to the "ideal man" thread where the issue originally came up. Do you work on your character until you feel love all the time for everybody, and then help people (if feeling that way all the time were even possible)? Or do you help people despite how you feel about them?

I view "not liking" somebody as a good thing, and so does Scott Peck. Much like "not liking" the smell of feces, it has a protective function. Wouldn't the natural reaction to somebody such as Hitler be disgust? Wouldn't we still be called within this view to "love" him, despite what I would deem the healthy reaction to his character?? It has consequences on a "practical" level both within marriage and within the context of spirituality...... clearing up the details answers the question, "How am I to behave?"

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Mon, 1st Dec '08 11:30 PM

Love is a many splintered thing.... Take the love a mother has for a child, the innate caring and nurturing kind that lasts a lifetime.How much of it is engendered by an instinctual response to care for a part of yourself, a genetic reaction brought about as a secondary response to the survival instinct. Childless women have committed insane and horrible acts like killing a pregnant woman to take her baby, is that primal instinct gone haywire? Not to say that DNA accounts solely for a a mother's love, for it certainly doesn't, but many women I have known personally continue this infant-nurturing phase on with children who are shaving and getting other women pregnant. Their "babies" can knock up women all over town and never look back, so what accounts for the gender differences in love of offspring. I realize I'm citing extreme scenarios,but even in a "normal" family setting the disparity exists at some level. In the background we hear Tina crooning "What's love got to do,got to do with it"

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 12:58 AM

Lol Danny, Tina Turner....I wonder if in this discussion as in all others, if perhaps more clarity or distinctions aren't called for. If I remember right one of Lewis's comments regarding love in the Four Loves was that our language is impoverished by having one word "love" used to describe a variety of scenarios, such as "love" between neighbors, love between husband and wife, or in the case of your example the love between a mother and child. I would wonder if perhaps these different kinds of love aren't all in some way slightly different from one another, and perhaps any discussion would be enriched with distinctions. If genetics plays a role in the love a mother has for a child, I imagine such an element would not be a factor in the love between an individual and his or her friends or neighbors. Perhaps these "type" of loves even have different "properties" or act different than one another in subtle ways.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 1:05 AM

Sun, as to your perspective that love is a feeling, I certainly mean no disrespect. Maybe it is possible physiologically for an emotion to "last a lifetime", despite what I thought I read about emotions....how would I know. I'm young. I think I could find the citation for that. I would love to learn more about what psychologists have discovered about emotions, and what kind of light that might shed on my question....would be interesting.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 1:15 AM

I'd actually love it if what I read about emotions was "mis-read".

davidf
Davidf  (Level: 102.1 - Posts: 746)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 8:35 AM

Love is a human construct, rarely reciprocal, occasionally shared. Enjoy your garden without wondering if there are fairies at the bottom.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 9:39 AM

Well, I do enjoy it David, and even for me for all intent and practical purposes I enjoy love as an emotion.....sometimes I just like to play devil's advocate, as I can see times when it might be, ummm "useful" so to speak to view it some other way, I was really only advocating flexibility in some pretty particular scenarios.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 7:40 PM

Boy philosophy is fun! I spent all day thinking about how to express my views on love.....and I decided that FOR ME, on a practical level, love is a paradox. It can be an fervent heated emotion or a rational decision that involves the will (or even something in between)....too seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints all in one. It can be either or for me depending on the circumstances. I think I was just struggling to put two seemingly contradictory things into one concept. Kind of like the trinity in Christianity I guess, how can three really be one....????? Fun exercise, and I got something out of it....Dunno if that helped the discussion any.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 11:24 PM

Just a quick response Jeremy...when I said love is an emotion, you jumped to "last a lifetime". No emotion has duration...even a mother's love (every parent has to admit sometimes you just hate that kid...).

It may or may not have longevity, but duration is not a valid quantitative measurement of any emotion's intensity nor veracity. IMO

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Tue, 2nd Dec '08 11:49 PM

Many authors have written about "levels of love" over the centuries, in particular St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas was referred to as a very rational and devout man, and Aristotleian in his philosophy. He speaks of love from baser levels where there is gain or reward for affections, a reciprocity of feelings because of what we receive from those we love. He continues on towards unrewarded love, love where there is no logical reason, and wrote quite extensively about how this kind of love is manifest in thought actions and even to the extent of laying down one's life for another. Of course all of his writing is predicated by a love of God, and is intended to be authoritative in character as to how to lead a better Christian life, but others who have cited Aquinas, like Chesterton elaborated in a more apologetic manner like CS Lewis. A few non-Christian authors have offered similar texts that are directed at the spousal relationship, as well as friends etc. even charting love based on it's percentage of self-interest or lack thereof. It's a many splintered thing.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Wed, 3rd Dec '08 12:30 AM

Quick comment myself: I did do that didn't I, Sun? I apologize for jumping the gun....I think "part", probably not all, of the problem may have been in the nature of the forum itself, the task of addressing you while attempting to address anyone who might "happen" along at the same time, trying to take shortcuts by anticipating things from others. For the rest.....oops. Nice catch, thanks for keeping me on my toes!! Maybe one suggestion should be to not anticipate?? Dunno.....

salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.5 - Posts: 5316)
Wed, 3rd Dec '08 12:50 AM

I think to address the issue of "love" one must break it down into several subjects.

Years ago if I said I "loved" ice cream, my father-in-law would respond by saying you can't "love" something that cannot love you back. So following that train of thought, if you love some thing, that probably is not a true love but something you like very, very much.

From what I gather from the previous posts, some of you expect the intense romantic and emotional love to last forever, and it doesn't. Let's see if I can put this into an example. If you have ever made bread from scratch (not with the bread machine) this might make sense to you. First, you put some warm water in a cup and add some yeast. Within moments it begins to come to life, foaming and growing. You add this to the flour, salt and sugar and begin stirring the dough until all the flour is moistened.

This is like love at first. The couple is attracted to each other and they begin to fall "in love," which continues to grow. Then all the other ingredients in life are added, the in-laws, jobs, children (the flour, salt and sugar), etc. You put the dough on the countertop and begin to knead it - which is like weathering the storms of everyday life.

It's put aside for a while when the dough rests but also continues to grow slowly. You punch the dough down and work it and knead it - like other changes that come in life. You put the dough into breadpans and it slowly rises until it is double in size (another one of the growing periods in a relationship but slower).

Finally, the pans of dough are put into the oven and baked - the final stages of the relationship where there is little or no growth but a stablizing time and a sense of fulfillment.

Beyond the first attraction and "falling in love," the chemistry comes and goes but eventually tapers off until it becomes stable and fulfilled. Many couples are too quick to bail out during one of the "resting" periods in a relationship without realizing there is something better coming if they just hang in there.

I don't know. Does any of this gibberish make sense to anyone?



salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.5 - Posts: 5316)
Wed, 3rd Dec '08 1:23 AM

Re your first question to me: When Jesus tells you to "love" your neighbor, what does he mean? Is he telling you to feel good things about them? Or to treat them decently? Or some combination in between (or some other alternative)?

Looking at the Greek words from the New Testament for love, there are three: Eros, the passionate love, which is exciting but is often fleeting; philia refers to brotherly love, (brotherly not referring just to the males); and agape, which is a love that supersedes the other two types of love. The first two types can be affected by the way individuals react to each other and outside influences. However, agape love transcends all circumstances.

The agape love is what Christ meant when he told us to "love one another." Agape is, in my mind, a verb; it calls us to action - wherever there is a need, we are to find an answer; wherever there is hunger we are to feed the hungry, etc. These are people we most likely do not know and so we can't "love" them in the eros or philia way - the only way we can feel the call to action is through the agape love. There is a Christian song "They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love," which refers to agape, not eros or philia.

Eros or philia are probably the easiest to achieve. It is agape that is the most difficult because it means loving the unloveable. Most of us do not achieve agape but it is a goal to strive for along our Christian walk.




oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Wed, 3rd Dec '08 1:25 AM

Good post Pat

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Wed, 3rd Dec '08 6:31 PM

Hmmm, I think you helped to confirm Lewis's thesis then, in my mind anyways. If all we have in our language is one word, Love, to describe a multitude of human experiences, no wonder I'm resorting to describing love in terms of a paradox then. Still, for must of us growing up, we aren't sitting around discussing philosophy in school or anything, a number of us seem to get our views off of the radio, or the television, or through literature.

I have to wonder what kind of harm having only one word for love might do in our society. When I was younger, after watching too many "Titanic" type movies, I had no idea a feeling couldn't last a lifetime, I just "assumed" love was a feeling merely, and I imagine had a more "adaptive" view of love been put forward through various outlets in society, I wonder if I could have been saved alot of trouble with "love" and a lot of heartache, not to mention life altering mistakes.....which is partly why I get "cranky" on this issue I think.....my children will be spared the trouble, "I hope", but I wish I would have been!!

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 1:27 AM

One thought taken from reading of Gandhi. Two words for love, ahimsa denotes perfect,unconditional love, and satyagraha is love in action.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 6th Dec '08 5:33 PM

Funny, I don't think the first time reading his works as a youngster I understood some of his "key terms", meaning I probably didn't even grasp half of what Gandhi was talking about. It does help, I guess each culture has its own words for such things.

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Sun, 7th Dec '08 11:25 PM

In terms of marital,sexual relationships I think love definitely takes a transitional course as Pat spoke of. Unlike love of family, this is one based on choice. We make a decision to enter into a relationship based on our interactions with the other person. In the first stages love usually doesn't exist, but kind of grabs hold of you at some point whether you intended it or not. Having been married three times I'm something of an expert on "til death do we part" What I've discovered the hard way could fill a pamphlet, if not a book. I have been the deliverer and the recipient of heartache, places I never want to visit again. In committing to another person in love, as we continue to define it, I think you must consider many aspects. Initially you want to be "with" this person, based I believe we can say, on selfish reasons. We like the way they make us feel, the physical attraction,etc., but in general it is primarily a desire to satisfy our wants and/or needs. When reciprocity ensues it seems justification enough to pursue the relationship. What we need to ask is how can I add to this person's life, make it better, and at the same time find fulfillment in my own? What negatives can I honestly address from the outset instead of glossing over, or viewing as manageable without ever having put any actual thought into it? I believe a life-partner absolutely has to be your best friend first, you should be able to say, do, or act in the same manner that you would with any best friend of either gender. No two people on this earth are exactly alike and no two relationships are exactly alike. Love then defines not only the bond between two people, but itself is defined by the nuances of personality, need, desire,compatibility,etc, that make us all individuals. In that sense "love" becomes a unique experience that exists between two, inimitable beyond those bonds.

smokydevil
Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 6:14 PM

Wow, good post Danny!! I can use any advice I can get, trust me....it's kind of funny. I was browsing through psychology sites regarding marriage myths, and one of them was listed as Marriage and a subsequent divorce is a learning process, you learn from your mistakes and are a better person as a result, more prepared for your next relationship. I thought, "What? That's a myth?" I was thinking this about my first marriage, seemed so true to me.....and still does. I can't imagine I'm not better prepared for the next one or that I haven't learned from my mistakes in some way.....just my opinion, but maybe I am wrong about that.

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 7:11 PM

A favorite quote of mine is one that was on a little plaque my last wife had hanging on the wall. "Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our path, is the perfect preparation for a future that only He can see." Corrie Ten Boom So yeah, to me that is how life works, maybe because a relationship didn't work out doesn't mean I can't take something positive from it, and not make the same mistakes or assumptions as before. And I know to check my baggage from the past at the door when entering a new relationship.

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 9:49 PM

So what's with the suitcase?

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.6 - Posts: 1120)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 10:53 PM

Just a few skeletons that won't fit in the closet....

luvnmexsun
Luvnmexsun  (Level: 147.4 - Posts: 711)
Tue, 9th Dec '08 11:00 PM

Oh! I thought we were going on another trip together!

davidf
Davidf  (Level: 102.1 - Posts: 746)
Wed, 10th Dec '08 11:05 AM

That's closets I guess


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