When one thinks of love, many thoughts may come to mind. Among them being memories of love shown to you or a time you gave love to someone you care deeply about. Love is referenced in scripture over 800 times between the Old and New Testament. However, it does not mean the same thing in each reference. No, the word love is translated in scripture in both Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament). In Greek, there are at least 13 different definitions for love and in Hebrew there are more than 13; each one having a little different meaning than the other.
In the English language, as with many others, love has many levels of meaning but still only one word—love. But in Biblical times there were different words for love to denote the level or type of love being expressed or accepted. I find that to be utterly amazing! This series of writings, beginning with the introduction, focuses on better understanding the word “love” and its contextual meaning as it refers to scripture and then utilizing that understanding to apply Godly love in our everyday lives. I pray we all draw closer to God as we grow deeper in knowledge of the kind of love he has for us!
One of the first definitions that we as human beings are very familiar with is the physical love between a man and a woman; a sexual love that unites a husband and wife as one (Mark 10:7-8, Genesis 2:24). In Greek, this love is called Eros and in Hebrew it is referred to as Dowd. Thus we hit our first two definitions:
Greek – Eros – an erotic, sensual love
Hebrew – Dowd – beloved, as in husband and wife, a love token, a
Love expressed through physical intimacy is very beautifully laid out before us in the Song of Solomon. The purity and sacredness of physical love has been long misrepresented by the world. It has been distorted into something that is everyday and common, something that is of no importance or value above and beyond the pleasure it brings. The world teaches that sexual immorality means freedom, that perversion is natural, and that commitment to one person is old fashioned. Socially, affairs have become the norm and media is saturated with sexual escapades that have turned God’s purpose for physical intimacy into illicit, casual bursts that are to bring self gratification of lusts.
In reality, however, physical love or sexual intimacy is sacred, holy, pure, and good when displayed in the Biblical context in which it was intended—to unite a husband and wife in commitment, beauty, and to connect them emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Sex is indeed God’s gift to his creation. It is one of the many expressions a couple can use to show their love for one another. Physical love was intended by God to celebrate love, produce children, experience pleasure, and reinforce the marriage commitment.
In the very beginning of this elegant love story between a lover and his beloved, this breathtaking love is described as “being more delightful than wine” (1:2). Solomon dotes over his beloved showering her with accolades fit for a queen and she in turn draws closer to him and relishes in the delight that her lover brings her. They share a love, eros, that is uniting them mentally, emotionally, and ultimately physically and there is great beauty and elegance in their love as it is God centered and brings Him delight. So the next time, you are dating or find yourself falling in love, remember to save physical love (eros/dowd) for the right time—marriage. Pray for strength to resist the temptations and influences of the world who beckons you to share this love with anyone that feels right at any time. That is not God’s intention for physical love, not His purpose in creating it! God created sexual love and all He has created is good (1 Timothy 4:4). As His creation we must be responsible and wise in how we use this beautiful gift. When enjoyed within marriage, physical love is pure and holy and brings honor to the Lord as a husband and wife enjoy one another on every level possible.
May the Lord convict your heart to focus on the purpose of Eros, the reason He created sexual love. May you seek His strength and wisdom in how to use it and may you remain pure until that blessed wedding day calls you. If you have fallen, as so many do, turn to God, repent, and seek to wait and honor God in your waiting. Prepare your body as the temple that it is, to be used of God and to be clean and holy for your wife or husband to be. God bless you and keep you in the shelter of His wings.