Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Theological Proposition

A friend asks this theological question:
Who should one love more, one's spouse or one's children?
I think there needs some clarifying pre-considerations here.

#1 English is really lacking in the area. Love is a kinda catch all phrase which lumps together eros, agape. Greek has three kinds of love: eros, agape and philia. Eros is erotic love, "an overpowering of reason by a 'divine madness.' " Philia means love of friendship and it is used in the New Testament to describe Jesus' relationship to his disciples.

In fact, Pope Benedict addresses this in the very beginning of his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

we speak of love of country, love of one's profession, love between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love between family members, love of neighbour and love of God. Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison.
So, I think the Pope nailed it: the love of a man and a woman bound together in holy matrimony outstrips even the love between parent and child. This love has a higher spot in the hierarchy of loves one may have. The love of God needs to be even higher that of love of one's spouse. I guess that's why He made it numero uno.

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