There is a slogan that has been getting a lot of media attention in Australia in recent times. It is usually accompanied by rainbow coloured flags and claims that “Love is Love.” So how can you best describe love?
The limitations of the English language, compared with others such as Hebrew and Greek means we only have one word for love. That is love. It is used widely to refer to people, objects and activities. When I say I love my AFL team; fresh brewed coffee; steak (medium rare thanks!); reading; my wife and family, the english word for each is the same, LOVE. However, the depth of meaning for each time it is used is vastly different. I get alot of pleasure from the success of my AFL team in recent years, my son responds with excitment and high fives when he sees my excitment and happiness. I greatly enjoy a fresh brewed coffee, and not much beats a juicy steak. But does the love I have for those tangible items and activites realy match the love that I have for my wife and family?
In the ancient texts, known as the Bible, there is at least nine different Hebrew words and at least six Greek words for LOVE. Here’s a few with a brief English translation.
aheb – to be attracted (like a nail to magnets) or attached to (as in parent and child).
hasad – an expression of emotional or economic loyalty amongst relatives, neighbours and friends.
raham – a one way love such as with a caregiver to the receiver.
ahava – to have affection or to be intimate with another person.
dode – a love by implication, most commonly refering to a relative.
eros – a love for the body, shown through physical passion and desire.
agape – a selfless love with no limitations on whom it is shown to.
phileo – rich in emotion and feeling, relates to the love of the soul, often associated with a parents love for their child(ren).
philautia – a love for self often associated with narcissism.
pragma – long standing love, often making compromises to help develop the depth and longevity of a relationship.
Some quick research will uncover other non-English words for love. Why not do your own research and you will discover that loving your spouse the same way as your favourite sportsteam might not be very romantic or provide a good foundation for longevity! Here’s just a few.
French – Amour sans fin: endess love.
German – Ich liebe dich: a deep affection for another person.
Italian – amore: affectionate love.
So why the rainbow?
As a follower of Jesus Christ and beliver in the Holy Bible, I am convinced that the rainbow was created by God. It was done so as a symbol of His commitment (such as the Greek word listed above – agape) never to destroy human kind again as was done in the time of Noah and the great flood.
In Genesis chapter 9, verses 12 and 13, it reads that God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
This was, and will always be a sign of God’s covenant, not a flippant suggestion or for the sake of brightening up the sky when its couldy, but His covenant. As a covenant is usually a formal agreement between two parties to do a specific thing, this is also a reminder back to God of His part of the agreement. So if you think that God doesn’t or cannot love you, or wonder how He can exist with the turmoil in the world, then remember this: each time you see a rianbow in the sky, while it can be a sign to you of the God who loves you and will never destroy you, it is also His reminder to Himself that He desires a relaitonship with you and has already made the ultimate sacrifice for that relationship to be possible.
What do you think of when you see a rainbow?