The word Eros from which we get our English word erotic wasn’t used by the NT writers, for a few reasons which we will now consider. Firstly the Eros is the name of the Greek primordial god of sexual love and beauty. He was also worshipped as a fertility deity, hence it is clear why this Eros was never used in the NT.
Eros is best understood as the state which we would call ‘being in love’. Although we would associate our English word erotic with sexual activity, sexuality only really is part of Eros when it becomes an ingredient in this complex state of bring in love.
Eros is particular in its nature, for example one does not have eros simply for women, but for a particular woman. The object of eros is considered as ‘beautiful’, ‘desirable’ by the subject.
Consider this example, you go into a china store and there see the most ugly vase in my opinion, but you find it of supreme beauty, you would be expressing the first characteristic of eros love towards it. If you then looked at the label and saw the price, you may not find it as attractive as you first did, but presuming that it matched your value of it, you’d get the Credit Card out and make a purchase, thus possessing the object that you’d fixed your affection on. Very simply, this is how eros love works.
Marriage is often based upon an expression of eros love. A man sees a woman who is, to him, an object worthy of his attention and he goes about seeking to have her in marriage (or, outside marriage). Eros, called ‘love’ by the present generation, is, at its worst, an unquenchable fire that consumes its owner. It seeks to find self-satisfaction in its object but the failure to possess it only enflames the desire more. This side of eros cannot be satisfied and will destroy the man who gives free vent to its leading. The Greeks used the term theia mania (“madness from the gods”.
Eros was not the word used for ‘the love of God’ because of the twin concepts that lay behind it. God didn’t send His Son into the world because He found mankind attractive and desirable to possess. On the contrary, sin had driven a wedge between Himself and man and His face was turned away from us. Isaiah 64:4, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
There is something amazing that Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter. For we the church have no beauty but what the Bridegroom (Jesus) give us. The love which God shows us is much bigger then eros and we shall look at this tomorrow.