Eros vs. Agape

One of the chief take-a-ways from your reading of the Old Testament “church” is that what begins with idolatry ends with gross immorality.  They just seem to always go together.

Recently, within a culture of so-called “progress” has come gross digression towards spiritual ruination.  True religion is not rotting because of the cultural decline in America; rather, the culture is declining because of that which we call “true religion” in 2013 America.  Within this ever-widening societal decline has been a deliberate attempt at re-inventing church.  “Traditional” has become the new F-bomb of religious terms.  

In many circles today the music of the church is set to the beat and groove of the world.  Within our churches is a lack of gender identification and modesty in dress.  This is the “come as you are, even if you are immodest” generation.  We approach God by casual means, instead of intentional holiness.  

One of my observations concerning the new music and Contemporary theology is the blurring of the lines between the sexual and the sacred.  Yes, within the walls of what should be a safe place (the local, New Testament church), free from worldliness, sexual impurity and cultural experimentation, is a blurring of people’s idea of love to God.  What, then, are the words needed for our observation?

  • eros- sensual love; of human origin.  Used as a noun, eros is the name of the primordial Greek God Eros, the god of love.  
  • phileo- tender affection, often seen as philadelphos, or brotherly love (Romans 12:10)
  • agape- God’s love; sacrificial love; “Calvary love”

In contrasting two terms eros and agape we see that they are different in origin, aim and outcome.  Eros is sensual love, having an earthly origin.  Eros is a flesh love, righteously satisfied only within God’s holy parameter, the institution of marriage.  Although this word is not found in the Bible, the idea is borne throughout the Scriptures.   In that it is sensual its outcome cannot be spiritual, for we cannot begin with the flesh and end in the Spirit or vice versa (Galatians 3:3).   When the Apostle Paul admonishes husbands in the book of Ephesians, He does not say, “Husbands, eros your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it” (5:25).

Paul uses the word agape.  Agape, then, is the miracle of the universe.  It is the love of God.  It is a love that proceeds from the heart of God (Romans 5:5).  It is not earthly; it is heavenly.   Agape is the love God has for the world (John 3:16), and out of that love, Christ descended from Heaven and came to the cross.  Husbands, then, are to have a Calvary love for their wives!  

How, then, do we love God?  We love Him with agape love.

It is my belief that the same philosophies used by the rock ‘n roll crowd to “set the mood” for a concert full of swooning fans are the same techniques and same foundational principles being practiced in our churches.  Accordingly, Jesus is no longer seen so much as a Saviour but a lover.  To illustrate, CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) groups often sing songs  which have a secular origin and an erotic flare.  These songs, then, are sung in worship to God, Jesus Christ becoming the object of affection.  

Lest we think this impossible, consider that fornication and sexual perversion were synthesized with true worship recurrently in the Old Testament (see I Corinthians 1:10-11, I Samuel 2:22).  

A.W. Tozer wrote the following words in 1959:

“THE period in which we now live may well go down in history as the Erotic Age. Sex love has been elevated into a cult. Eros has more worshipers among civilized men today than any other god. For millions the erotic has completely displaced the spiritual.

“How the world got into this state is not difficult to trace. Contributing factors are the phonograph and radio, which can spread a love song from coast to coast within a matter of days; the motion picture and television, which enable a whole population to feast their eyes on sensuous women and amorous young men locked in passionate embrace (and this in the living rooms of “Christian” homes and before the eyes of innocent children!); shorter working hours and a multiplicity of mechanical gadgets with the resultant increased leisure for everyone. Add to these the scores of shrewdly contrived advertising campaigns which make sex the not too slyly concealed bait to attract buyers for almost every imaginable product; the degraded columnists who have consecrated their lives to the task of the publicizing of soft, slinky nobodies with the faces of angels and the morals of alley cats; conscienceless novelists who win a doubtful fame and grow rich at the inglorious chore of dredging up literary putridities from the sewers of their souls to provide entertainment for the masses. These tell us something about how Eros has achieved his triumph over the civilized world.

“Now if this god would let us Christians alone I for one would let his cult alone. The whole spongy, fetid mess will sink some day under its own weight and become excellent fuel for the fires of hell, a just recompense which is meet, and it becomes us to feel compassion for those who have been caught in its tragic collapse. Tears and silence might be better than words if things were slightly otherwise than they are. But the cult of Eros is seriously affecting the Church. The pure religion of Christ that flows like a crystal river from the heart of God is being polluted by the unclean waters that trickle from behind the altars of abomination that appear on every high hill and under every green tree from New York to Los Angeles.

“The influence of the erotic spirit is felt almost everywhere in evangelical circles. Much of the singing in certain types of meetings has in it more of romance than it has of the Holy Ghost. Both words and music are designed to rouse the libidinous. Christ is courted with a familiarity that reveals a total ignorance of who He is. It is not the reverent intimacy of the adoring saint but the impudent familiarity of the carnal lover.

“Religious fiction also makes use of sex to interest the reading public, the paper-thin excuse being that if romance and religion are woven into a story the average person who would not read a purely religious book will read the story and thus be exposed to the gospel. Leaving aside the fact that most modern religious novelists are home talent amateurs, scarcely one of whom is capable of writing a single line of even fair literature, the whole concept behind the religio-romantic novel is unsound. The libidinous impulses and the sweet, deep movings of the Holy Spirit are diametrically opposed to each other.

“The notion that Eros can be made to serve as an assistant of the Lord of glory is outrageous. The “Christian” film that seeks to draw customers by picturing amorous love scenes in its advertising is completely false to the religion of Christ. Only the spiritually blind will be taken in by it.

“The current vogue of physical beauty and sparkling personalities in religious promotion is a further manifestation of the influence of the romantic spirit in the Church. The rhythmic sway, the synthetic smile and the too, too cheerful voice betray the religious worldling. He has learned his technique from the TV screen but not learned it well enough to succeed in the professional field, so he brings his inept production to the holy place and peddles it to the ailing and undersized Christians who are looking for something to amuse them while staying within the bounds of the current religious mores.

“If my language should seem severe, let it be remembered that it is not directed at any individual. Toward the lost world of men I feel only a great compassion and a desire that all should come to repentance. For the Christians whose vigorous but mistaken leadership has wooed the modern church from the altar of Jehovah to the altars of error I feel genuine love and sympathy. I want to be the last to injure them and the first to forgive them, remembering my past sins and my need for mercy, as well as my own weakness and natural bent toward sin and error. Balaam’s ass was used of God to rebuke a prophet. It would seem from this that God does not require perfection in the instrument He uses to warn and exhort His people.

“When God’s sheep are in danger the shepherd must not gaze at the stars and meditate on “inspirational” themes. He is morally obliged to grab his weapon and run to their defense. When the circumstances call for it, love can use the sword, though by her nature she would rather bind up the broken heart and minister to the wounded. It is time for the prophet and the seer to make themselves heard and felt again. For the last three decades timidity disguised as humility has crouched in her corner while the spiritual quality of evangelical Christianity has become progressively worse year by year.”

If Tozer saw the iniquity of such diabolic perversion in 1959 imagine the acceleration of his perception to 2013.  

Let’s wake up!  Let us not be deceived by the newest trends of worship that arouse our soul to worship but be strictly in love with Calvary as we worship Christ in spirit and in truth.

 

 

 

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