The questionability of eros

“Eros” as a Greek term isn’t found anywhere in the Scriptures.

Every time I hear a Christian refer to how love in marriage is “eros” I somewhat get the inkling feeling that it’s questionable.

Now, I suppose you could tie this somewhat back to my previous post, especially the discussion on yoga in the comments. Calisthenics and various stretches and other movements are not necessarily “pagan” by nature, but when you codify a system of movements in celebration or a ritual of a pantheon of gods it may be questionable. The arguments in the commentary have somewhat begun to sway me to the “avoid yoga” side of the argument.

“Eros” in particular is based on a Greek god and cult. It has ties to illicit love, homosexuality, and the idolization of attraction and sex. Just like chivalry or “courtly love” is based in the idolization of romance, eros is about the idolization of sex with or without marriage.

The Scriptures tie the morality of sex to marriage, and thus justify the wholeness of passion within the bounds of the marital bed. Everything outside of that concept is sin. While Christians have tried to redefine “eros” as meaning sex within marriage (and that this is true), redefining a pagan concept as Christian is dubious.

Similar veins of thought:

  • Redefining game within a Christian context is also dubious.
  • Why I don’t respect women.
  • “Marriage” by the Supreme Court is not just “one man and one woman” anymore, but when Christians talk about marriage we automatically assume that it is “one man and one woman” even though we know that is not what the law of the land says currently.

My overall conclusion is that the lines and terminology should be used as how they were defined by the Scripture.

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30 Responses to The questionability of eros

  1. I totally agree with you about the idolization of sex, even within marriage. That is a huge problem today, and rather than calling out this idolatry, Christians often merely co-opt it by adding “within marriage” to their idolatry of sex.

    When it comes to Eros, are you trying to say that an Eros type love/passion is immoral within a Christian marriage? Or just that we shouldn’t use that word?
    Because there are many different kinds of and reasons for sex in marriage. It seems useful to have different words to describe them.

  2. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    There is a problem with aversion to words like eros, that is the contemporary context is eliminated with the word. When Christians rally against eros they inevitably are arguing for passionless marriage beds and purely functional sex. Desire for one’s wife sexually becomes an evil lust etc.

    It is much like arguing against Easter because it was originally a pagan celebration of fertility or Christmas because it was originally a pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice. One ends up with no special remembrances of the incarnation or the resurrection, but ay least they can claim pietistic purity because they are not like others who celebrate “unbiblical” holidays.

    Proverbs 5:19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love.
    Song of Solomon 4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle, Which feed among the lilies.

    Eros may not be a Biblical word but erotic love manifest in passionate sex within marriage is a Biblical concept and a command.

  3. @ Jonadab-the-Rechabite

    Definitely agree it can go bad too far in the other direction.

    Something straight forward like “sexual passion” rather than Eros if that makes sense.

  4. @ seriouslyserving

    When it comes to Eros, are you trying to say that an Eros type love/passion is immoral within a Christian marriage? Or just that we shouldn’t use that word?

    Mainly the word itself.

    Overall, feminists have “won” the war with defining the meaning of various words in language.

    Patriarchy is probably the best example as I’ve noted before. Even when non-informed Christians hear the word Patriarchy they think it’s bad or evil.

    Fighting back by using sound terminology is important.

  5. I see what you’re saying about the word ‘patriarchy’, but I agree with jonadab here that it’s closer to the Christian appropriation of Christmas and Easter.
    Sometimes in marriage you just have sex for the sake of having sex, and that is good and holy. Eros seems like the best word to describe that.

  6. feeriker says:

    Proverbs 5:19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And always be enraptured with her love.
    Song of Solomon 4:5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle, Which feed among the lilies.

    Eros may not be a Biblical word but erotic love manifest in passionate sex within marriage is a Biblical concept and a command.

    We said. Exactly.

    I’ll let deti take over now and explain, once again, that the reason this rarely happens in most marriages is because most wives simply are NOT sexually attracted to their husbands (i.e., they’ve either lost what sexual attraction they had, or never had any to begin with).

  7. feeriker says:

    That should read well said. Stupid smart phone …

  8. infowarrior1 says:

    I encountered this which argues that the structure of marriage is meant to be egalitarian:
    http://christianthinktank.com/not2obey.html

    What do you think?

  9. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    @ infowarrior1
    The author ignores Titus 2:5 (wives).. to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

    It destroys his premise and negates his egalitarian eisegeses. Further he clings to postulates that have been disproven such as “kephale” means source. Anti-authority is not a tenant of Christianity. The very use of the word “Lord” conveys authority. Sarah’s calling Abraham “lord” (1 Pe 3:6) was her vocalization of submission and obedience, an example that all women are called to follow. So by example and by command as to what wives are to be taught, wifely obedience is indeed a mark of the Christian wife and of her heart of submission. The article is a cancerous blight that destroys homes and the image of the gospel of Christ, a blasphemy against the Word, and no that is not hyperbole.

  10. @ infowarrior1

    What Jonadab said… but also,

    Egalitarians always ignore the fact that Colossians 3, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3 and other parts of the Scriptures tell wives to submit to their husbands. They always try to attack Eph 5 and only Eph 5 because they have no counterargument for the other ones that just flat out say it.

    Voluntarily submitting is obedience.

    John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

  11. donalgraeme says:

    Not sure how I missed this post, but I did until now.

    Eros, like many words, has a lot of baggage. I try and use only in the context of the other Greek words for love.

    The thing is, if we abandon the word, we need an acceptable replacement. So what works? Sensual love is the best I can think of. That would include both romance as well as purely physical acts of love (sex only).

    DS, since your knowledge of Greek is vastly better than mine, what words for passion are used in Scripture? Is there anything which would include the full context of what I mentioned above in sensual love?

  12. donalgraeme says:

    My overall conclusion is that the lines and terminology should be used as how they were defined by the Scripture.

    Scripture rarely defined any of that DS. Perhaps you mean to say they should be used as they were meant in Scripture- as in, what they meant from 50-100 AD or so.

    That aside, I do agree with relying on a fixed point when it comes to essential definitions.

  13. infowarrior1 says:

    @Deep Strength

    I understand but he did respond to the 1 Peter 3 passage that you guys mention whilst referencing many “scholarly” sources and their interpretation of Greek to justifying equality. Its a worthwhile read in regards to how they regard passages that flat out equate submission with obedience and calling husband Baal or “Master” and how it doesn’t really mean what it looks like it is saying.

  14. infowarrior1 says:

    @Jonadab the Recabite
    As with 1 Peter 3. The Author would with Titus 2:5 would be considered only applicable to the Patriarchal world of the Romans. And that it is only conditional at the time given such a cultural climate.

  15. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    @infowarrior

    1 Corinthians 11:7-10 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head

    The apostle Paul seems to think a husbands authority and rule are not a result of “the Patriarchal world of the Romans” but part of created order. Further he writes that it reflects the authority of Christ over the church (Eph 5:23) and Peter likens suffering for obedience to Christ obeying the Father (1Pe 2:21-3-2). Paul tells Timothy to make sure the younger women are taught to obey their own husbands lest the Word of God, not the traditions of the Romans, be blasphemed (Titus 2:5)

    See how much of a contortionist one must be to deny authority and become a good woman worshiper. To chose to dismiss the inscripturated writings of the apostles as only cultural is to deny the authority of scripture, it is a pernicious practice with toxic consequences.

  16. thedeti says:

    wordpress ate my post….

  17. thedeti says:

    Eros isn’t to be idolized, sure. But a prime issue in marriages, probably the number one problem, is the wife’s lack of sexual attraction to her husband. All other claimed marital issues are ruses and pretexts for the wife’s lack of attraction. Most women are marrying men they’re not as attracted to as the men they used to have sex with as younger women. Some women are marrying men they’re not attracted to at all. Most women are settling when they marry, and they are angry and resentful about having to settle, and that eventually comes out in the marriage.

  18. thedeti says:

    The problem of lack of sexual attraction isn’t new. What is new, is that her lack of sexual attraction is used as a basis to end an otherwise functional marriage, even among Christian women. But in Christian circles, her lack of sexual attraction isn’t called that. It’s called

    “he just doesn’t love me enough to give me what I need”

    “he just goes too fast”

    “I’m a slow cooker and he’s a microwave”

    “he won’t do enough chores and if he would just do more chores around here I’d be in more of a mood to have sex”

    “he’s just not Godly enough/doesn’t pray enough/doesn’t submit to our pastor enough/doesn’t go to church enough”

    All ruses and pretexts. All of them are essentially wife saying

    “I’m not sexually attracted to my husband”

  19. thedeti says:

    I found the post WordPress ate. Here it is:
    _____________________

    DS: “eros is about the idolization of sex with or without marriage.”

    Jonadab: “Eros may not be a Biblical word but erotic love manifest in passionate sex within marriage is a Biblical concept and a command.”

    Sex isn’t to be idolized, to be sure. But sexual attraction and sex are appropriate in marriage; and in fact you can’t have much of a marriage without them.

    Marriages just don’t work without strong and sustained sexual attraction flowing both ways. They can work in the sense that couples can and do stay together when there’ no attraction or very little, or the attraction has dissipated for one reason or another. But they probably aren’t very happy or satisfying. And in today’s society, a marriage lacking in sexual attraction will likely be quite unhappy and the odds of marital friction, cheating and divorce go way, way up, even in Christian marriages.

    Is this a good thing? No, it’s a quite modern thing, really. It’s a symptom of how modernity has infected everything, even the Church and even marriage. The problem of lack of sexual attraction isn’t new; what is new is that lack of attraction is now a basis for ending an otherwise valid, useful and beneficial partnering. And more and more men are seeing this, and simply refusing to enter into it.

    The number one problem in marriages in the US today is the wife’s lack of sexual attraction. Everything else is a pretext. Money? Pretext, when women (including Christian women) are willing to have sex with attractive, broke men. Lack of love? Pretext. Women (including Christian women) are willing to have sex with attractive good looking men they don’t even know, much less like or have some affinity for. Fighting? The prime reason women (including Christian women) fight with and otherwise don’t get along with their husbands is because they don’t respect those men; and the prime reason they don’t respect those men is that they aren’t sexually attracted to them. Women are reflexively submissive and respectful to men they’re sexually attracted to.

  20. @thedeti:

    It’s pretty much the same way Tattoos. The inner heart, much like with the mouth, will always finally be displayed on the flesh. One way or the other.

  21. Lost Patrol says:

    Call it Eros, or a more accurate or appropriate name, Deti well articulates a severe problem that is barely acknowledged to exist in many religious circles.

    If a man marries a woman that is not warm for his form no one is going to be satisfied. Many women will eventually divorce the man, while many men for a variety of reasons will remain married to the woman if possible, whilst leading “lives of quiet desperation” to appropriate from Thoreau.

    In churches this can become a real death spiral. Sexual attraction and passion are rarely addressed in any forum, and if they are the standard incorrect pronouncements are made, which seem almost intentionally designed to bring out the most effeminate, and therefore least desirable qualities of the man from a woman’s perspective.

    If a woman desires for reasons of faith to marry a “good churchman”, she is hard pressed to find one that in fact exudes enough actual manliness to appeal to her created instincts to bond with him physically. The church man for his part has been brought up to suppress the masculine qualities she might actually be drawn to, in favor of a mode highly deferential to, and almost worshipful of the woman; which he only later or never learns she actually finds distasteful.

    To bring any of this into the open would be anathema. If a breach ever were made so that the topic was given credence as a problem, the wrong conclusions would be drawn and useless or harmful advice would be given/preached.

  22. infowarrior1 says:

    @Jonadab-the-Rechabite
    Actually aside from the King James Bible all other translations talk about being subject to their husbands without the word obedience. Hence allowing egalitarians to skirt the issue.

    As for Christ’s headship could you point to any scholary sources that point to Kephale not as meaning source but Authority and disproving the usage of such as source? All that google turns up is egalitarian arguments for how Kephale is source.

    Notice also the translation of 1 Peter 3 he uses is “even if they do not believe the word” NIV 2011?
    http://biblehub.com/1_peter/3-1.htm

    hence allowing him to make the argument that this command only applies to unbelieving non-Christian Husbands.

    Now the NIV 201:
    http://www.waynegrudem.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/An-Evaluation-of-Gender-Language-in-the-2011-NIV.pdf

  23. @ Donal, etc.

    I was thinking just use the descriptive terms from Song of Songs and Proverbs and so on.

    “Sexually passionate” is an accurate descriptor.

  24. thedeti says:

    Lost Patrol:

    There are lots of reasons why we in the Christian community don’t talk about sexual attraction and the fact that most women just aren’t sexually attracted to the men they’re marrying.

    If we talked about it, we’d have to admit a lot of uncomfortable things about ourselves. We’d have to admit that

    –most Christian women are having sex before they marry

    –most Christian women are having sex with sexually attractive non-Christian men

    –most Christian men are hopelessly unattractive, don’t know how to be attractive, and don’t know what “sexually attractive” really is

    –parents have utterly failed their children in teaching them about how to go about becoming attractive and how to leverage their attractiveness to maximum advantage

    –we really don’t know what the Bible says about sexual attraction and its role in getting men and women together, and in marriage

    –nonChristians know more than we do about what sexual attractiveness is, how it works, and what women find sexually attractive

    –we don’t really live out Christian sexual morality. We talk a good game, but we don’t really believe what the Bible actually says about Christian sexual morality, and we don’t live it. We, and the Church, have been completely modernized.

    –we don’t really live out Biblical principles on marriage. We don’t really believe Ephesians 5 or I Pet. 3. If we do believe it, we don’t live it because we’re afraid to. Women are afraid to submit to men they see as beneath them. Women are afraid to follow what the Word and tradition say about proper roles of husband, wife, children, and Church. Men are afraid to lead and to insist on their wives’ submission because they’re afraid of what their wives will say or do, and they’re afraid their wives will start withholding sex. Men are afraid to insist on getting anything they need from their marriages.

  25. thedeti says:

    We’d also have to admit the Church, and its self-proclaimed “leaders” and “marriage/relationship ministries”, have absolutely NO idea what they’re talking about when they hold forth on creating and sustaining good marriages, that these “ministries” should be put out of business, and that they be held up as the ignoramuses they are. And in saying they’re ignorant I don’t mean it as an insult or casting aspersions. I mean it literally – they are ignorant, as in they don’t know what they’re talking about or doing.

    If we start talking about why there are so many divorces and troubled marriages even in the Church, we’d have to admit that women are marrying men they’re not attracted to; in large part because they spent some time having sex with men they ARE attracted to but couldn’t get to marry them.

    We’d also have to admit that most of the men in our churches are unattractive men, indeed; most are inveterate girlymen who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves, can’t dress well, are fat and out of shape, and don’t know what they want to do with themselves. And we would have to admit that these men are this way because everyone around them – the church, their schools, their pastors, their families, their parents – told them they should be like this; that the hypersensitive, overly dramatic, overly emotional men wearing their hearts on their sleeves and crying to Jesus with uplifted hands is “sexually attractive”.

  26. @thedeti:

    At the bigger picture level, we’d say that the Church has wholly accepted the World’s metaphysics. Which is a nice way of saying, “you all failed; you’ve failed so hard only Divine Intervention is going to save you lot”.

    I’d also go a little further and point out that, as much as we talk about what the Church’s environment has done to Men, pretty much all of them leave from 18 through 30. Which means the entire system & structure is a dumpster fire. It’s hard to listen to hypocrites, regardless of how earnest they are.

  27. Lost Patrol says:

    thedeti,

    You have summed it up. I am myself complicit in some of the failings.

    Looking Glass points out a fact about the window of time in which most men leave. It is often the ones that leave wherein hope lies. They reject the emasculation pressed upon them by churches. Some return better educated, and stronger than before.

    It’s my personal hobbyhorse. The perpetual emphasis only on a “meek and mild” Savior breeds the men you describe as “hypersensitive, overly dramatic, overly emotional”. No press is given to the very evident and plainly obvious masculine characteristics of The Son of Man. There is a reason “Son of Man” is included in the title. He always operated and prevailed from a position of strength and vitality – “amused mastery” if you will. Thousands of people followed Him around and the elites and one percenters of His day saw all of their challenges to Him fail. They were in fact left speechless. Only when He had proven incontestable dominance did He voluntarily set the power aside to complete the mission.

    18-30 year old men will often enough follow such a leader if they get to learn about Him, but they usually aren’t afforded such learning.

  28. But why marry someone that you have no sexual attraction too? it seems pointless to me

  29. thedeti says:

    “But why marry someone that you have no sexual attraction too? it seems pointless to me”

    Men almost never do this. Women do this frequently. Main reason women do it is because she ran out of time and waited too long, she spent too much time with more attractive men who would not marry her, and now has to settle for a less attractive man she likes, but is not sexually attracted to.

    Most women would rather be married than not married. It’s extremely important to a woman that she have the commitment of a man, even a less attractive man she doesn’t care all that much for, so she has access to his resources and therefore the security those resources represent. It’s better to have an undesirable man and a claim to his money; than to have no man at all. It’s better to have an undesirable man and the security and “approval” he provides, than to have no man at all. Women have a need for monetary and bodily security and predictability that men just don’t experience.

    I know that women earn their own money, and many can support themselves and (claim they) don’t have a need for a man or his resources. That said, given the choice, women would rather not have to get their own money, and would much rather have a man, any man, even an unattractive man, do it for them. Women would much rather not work and rely on the financial support of a man, any man, even an unattractive man (particularly when age 30 or 35 or 38 looms), than to be in a position where they HAVE to work.

    Women are willing to trade sex for provisioning. They dont’ really WANT to, but they’re WILLING to. This is a prime difference between men and women. Women will have sex with men they’re not attracted to if those men bring provisioning and commitment. Men will not have sex under any circumstances with women they’re not attracted to. Men just won’t do it. If given a choice between a thoroughly unattractive woman and celibacy, almost all men choose celibacy.

  30. thedeti says:

    Another reason women really really want marriage is to signal to others (particularly other women) that a man, any man, thought well enough of her to commit to her and declare that commitment publicly. She wants to be able to show the world a tangible affirmation of her worth and value as a woman. She wants to be able to demonstrate to the world (and therefore to herself) that, yes, she has worth and value. She wants affirmation and validation of her value and worth.

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