Most people have a passion for chocolate cake. Unfortunately, many of us can obsess over chocolate cake to the point of sitting down before a large chocolate cake and eating until we are sick. The obsessed eater reaches the point were he or she gags to take just one more bite of chocolate cake. Once the lust for chocolate cake is satisfied, the eating is over. Our passion for chocolate is satisfied, and with a sickened stomach, we move on.
The ancient Greek word eros would be used to define our passion for chocolate cake. The English word “erotic” comes from this word. This is erotic passion that once satisfied, moves on until the next time when a craving arises. The Greek word eros is never used in the Bible.
In ancient times, the word eros was used often in reference to erotic sexual activity. It is the passion that is experienced for a moment, but then is satisfied. When the satisfaction is realized, the “lover” then goes on his or her way.
Eroticism is passion without commitment. In a marital relationship that is exclusively based on passion, one is focused more on one’s self than his or her partner. The use of the word eros in a marital context would explain that there are some dysfunctions in the marriage. Eros would be applied to the individual who has had a moment of sexual satisfaction, but then moves on to the appointments of the day. This would be a relationship that grows dim over time as the passion of the sexual experience fades from the marriage. Therefore, after the honeymoon is over, it is then the time to determine if the married partners truly love one another.
Some people grow tired of being married because the passion of the sexual experience of the marriage has faded away. In such cases, the couple may have been married only on the basis of a passionate sexual relationship. But when the passion of the sexual relationship has faded, then they fade from one another as partners. Their sexual eros was a weak foundation upon which their marriage relationship was initially established.
In the sexual activity of a world that lives in fornication, eros would define the sexual relationship between many men and women. This is erotic sex without any commitments. Sexual encounters without any commitments defines a hedonistic society in which individuals seek relationships only for the purpose of satisfying their sexual impulses.
In a marriage relationship, two individuals have taken the first step in honoring a commitment to one another. Newly married couples must focus on their commitment to grow together for life, enjoying the sexual relationship as God’s blessing for the expression of love within the marriage. Jesus’ parable in reference to receiving the word of God illustrates too many young marriages. In the parable, Jesus identified those who initially were excited about receiving the word of God, but did not have a deep commitment to continue in their relationship with God.
But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. However, he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away (Mt 13:20,21).
This sounds like some marriages. Some people immediately receive the word (get married), but immediately fall away from the word when times get tough (when disagreements come). Those in the parable fell away from their relationship with Jesus because their passion for the Lord had no depth. It was shallow. It was initially based on excitement, but the excitement eventually passed away when hard times came.
In his youth, John Mark may have had this initial burst of passion for the Lord. He sailed with Paul and Barnabas on their first mission journey. Unfortunately, the exciting passion that Mark initially experienced for the Lord was not strong enough to take him through all the trials of the journey for which he volunteered (1 Jn 4:18). He eventually turned back from the journey (At 15:38).
Fortunately, there is a happy ending to Mark’s story. His initial passion eventually grew into a committed love that sustained his relationship with the Lord until the end of his life. Many years later, and while Paul was in prison in Rome, he called on Timothy to “get Mark and bring him …, for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (2 Tm 4:11).
Mark’s life illustrates the initial commitment of many young people to one another when they are first married. Marriage begins with love and erotic excitement, but then come the trials of stony places. Nevertheless, if a couple hangs tight, the initial eros (passion) of the relationship will eventually grow into a lifetime relational love that will deliver great rewards in old age. “Chocolate cake” passion alone for one another will not take a married couple to the rewards of marriage in old age. However, when the passion of two young people eventually morphs into sacrificial love, then the couple is on their way to holding one another’s hand into an inexpressible love commitment until they part in death.
Passion will initially connect two people in marriage, but it takes sacrificial love to keep them connected until death do them part.
[Next lecture: August 26]