Teaching Kids Three Different Types of Biblical Love
By Erin Mohring
Love, love, love…
That word is everywhere this month, but it is not always used to mean the same thing. We LOVE pizza and we LOVE our children and we LOVE our spouse and we LOVE the new dress our friend is wearing. Love gets used a lot, so we have a responsibility to teach our children about the different kids of love, especially love shown and described in the Bible.
We recently saw Frozen, the newest Disney movie, and it made me think about how we can use these fun animated films to teach our children about love in different forms!
This is the kind of love portrayed most often in chick-flicks and romantic movies of any kind – based on physical attraction and very ooey gooey romantic love. It’s when the princess sees the handsome prince for the first time and gets all starry-eyed. It’s Cinderella and the Prince, Jasmine and Aladdin, Elsa and Hans.
The last example, Elsa and Hans, is an important one. They have a chance meeting and appear to fall head over heels based on what they see. They make rash decisions based on love at first sight. And because eros love is easy to fabricate, someone ends up getting hurt. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t spoil it for you!
Eros love is not always bad and many times it is the start of a long, beautiful relationship. In fact, God created man and woman to be physically attracted to each other. But eros love cannot and should not stand on its own.
While eros love is based on physical attraction, philos love is based on shared interests. You feel the philos kind of love towards a friend, a pal, a buddy. I think of Mike and Sully on Monsters, Inc. or Mater and Lightning on Cars! The relationship of Elsa and her sister Anna also begins as philos love.
It could also be described as “brotherly love.” Philos is the kind of love our children show to their siblings on a regular basis. Sibling love can be a tricky thing, especially at younger ages. My older two boys, ages seven and five, will be best of buds when they want to play Legos or spies together, but the minute one wants to go his own way, the love is gone. This is what happens with philos love – shared interests bring two people together as friends, but the relationship can sour quickly. While this may be the kind of love our children show one another now, we will want them to grow and mature to love one another with our last kind of love… agape.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~John 15:13
Agape love is not based on any circumstances or feelings. It is unconditional love, acted upon on a regular basis, with no expectation of love in return. Love in action. Agape love is how God loves each and everyone of us and it is how He wants us to love one another.
This kind of love requires sacrifice, whether it is the laying aside of feelings or even a life to show that love. God the Father and His Son, Jesus, are the ultimate example. God let His only Son die on the cross for you and me and our children and Jesus willingly endured the suffering and death because of the Greatest Love.
There is a beautiful book called My Friend Jesus which presents the Gospel in a format accessible to kids in the five to ten years-old age range. The book not only tells the gospel story about Jesus, but it also introduces children to a personal relationship with Him. A prayer at the end of the book guides children into that life-changing friendship with Jesus. This is the book author Kathryn Slattery wishes she had when her own children were young—which is the reason she wrote it!
For an example of agape love outside of the Bible, you can point your children to Anna’s sacrifice for her sister at the end of Frozen. There is great discussion to be had about the kind of love exhibited by Anna after everything she has gone through in the movie.
Whatever the examples you may use for describing the different forms of love, constantly pointing them to the unwavering, never-ending love of God will keep the most important kind of love in the forefront of their minds!
Read more on FaithGateway: *Bible Verses about Love* about how the four different words for love in the Bible – Philos, Agape, Storge, and Eros – are used in the Scriptures.
What examples of each kind of love can you think of which your children will relate to well?
Lover of Jesus, family, home. Wife, mommy, writer, runner. Erin finds joy in her life as a Jesus-follower, doctor’s wife, mama to three handsome guys, writer at Home with the Boys, and co-founder of Raising Boys Media.