“…and it looks like Nathan’s just another victim.”
Frank Loesser, Guys and Dolls
When #1 Son was about 9, he and his friend, Mr. Know-It-All, went to try out for a musical at a community theatre. Mr. Know-It-All broke me up with his enthusiastic performance of the title song from “Guys and Dolls,” particularly the way he put over the following:
When you meet a mug lately out of the jug
And he’s still lifting platinum folderol
Call it hell, call it heaven
It’s a probable twelve to seven
That the guy’s only doing it for some doll.
Even little kids know that love is about doing wild or crazy things to please the object of your fantasies, right?
The word “love” has some baggage, and that we cannot deny.
I’ve been thinking about the people of 2000 years ago, living in a world where marriages were arranged for profit or advantage or security, and love meant something completely different. You probably know those three Greek words for love that influenced our friends in the first century of the Common Era. Eros is the kind of love we associate with physical attraction. Philia is the love we have for our friends. And Agape is a sacrificial love for others. Agape is that kind of love that undergirds a love ethic, an attitude toward living based in loving others in a way that isn’t about attachment or satisfaction or even having a great time together. It’s that kind of love that makes it possible to get through the day when people around us are at their most trying.
(I’m happy to say my husband seems to have figured that last bit out, and we seem to be able to grant each other the Agape when the other two have flown out the window for the moment.)
This Saturday, I will preside at a Renewal of Covenant for a couple married 25 years. They had each been married before, and between them had a large number of children. They struggled financially, and it is a favorite family story that you had to watch out when Mom got near the shampoo or the juice or the ketchup. She made things go further by diluting them with water or vinegar. And that is the work of love, when we stretch ourselves as far as we can go in order to care for others.