Agape love and women

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.–1 Timothy 1:7

I am in the process of writing a bible study on the use of agape and its variants, not only in the New Testament but in the Septuagint as well.  The Septuagint is the Old Testament as translated into Greek  by Jews living in Alexandria.  Part of the problem with using the Septuagint is that the Hebrew texts use the much broader word “ahava” for love, so that we must look at context and usage to determine whether agape is what was really intended.

One question that many have is how a woman can experience agape, and I will address that today.  Later on, my plan is to show that Song of Solomon is not strictly an erotic love story, but one of agape and tender affection.  The Jews have a strong sense that marital intimacy include loving the whole person and not just the body.  If eroticism were all that was intended in the Song, then that would be stripping the woman of her humanity and turning her into a sex object alone.  God certainly intended that women were made for more than just their husband’s physical pleasure.  They have souls, they have a strong need for affection, and God did not intend that men should not be loving, and tenderly affectioned toward their wives.

Agape is described in Greek lexicons as “commitment to love, affection and high esteem”.  Agape literally means “I love”  and it’s primary meaning in the Biblical sense is the love that God has for man.   God is Love, and the highest quality our Christian walk has to be the shared love that we have for each other because of the love He had for us.

In the New Testament, agape is used to express love for God, love for our neighbor, love for our enemies, love for each other as Christians, the love of a man for his wife.   Since the very meaning of agape includes affection, that is caring, fondness, liking, tenderness, then it is inherent in each of these situations.  It has been expressed that agape love can only be expressed in a superior to subordinate manner, but this would undermine the usage of it in terms of agape for our enemies, agape for our neighbors and agape for our fellow Christians, who may or may not be an authority over us.  Agape is a commitment to love, plain and simple, and so we can commit ourselves to loving someone unconditionally.   Indeed, the above verse in 1 Timothy shows us that agape is an inherent quality of the Holy Spirit.  All Christians, men and women possess the ability to express agape love.

Although a woman is not commanded of God to express agape love for her husband directly, this does not mean that a woman is incapable of showing the same commitment to love that a man is.  If she is able to commit herself to loving God, loving fellow Christians (of which her husband should be one), loving her enemies and loving her neighbors, there is nothing to presuppose she is incapable of expressing the same level of commitment and love to her husband, just because he is her superior.

As I will show in my future study on the Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman does express the tender affection and commitment of agape.  Indeed, one key phrase that the Septuagint expresses the agape concept in here is “the one who my soul loveth”.  The woman loves Solomon from her soul.  What deeper love is there?  The Bible tells us to love the Lord our God with all our might, all our soul, all our strength, from our very heart.  For it certainly our hearts and souls that God wants and not just our lipservice.    Would a woman give herself sacrificially for a man?  I know many women who do have that level of love that they sacrifice for their husbands.

Women may seem like an afterthought in the book of Genesis, but God certainly has a purpose and a value for us.  He used women throughout the Bible to fulfill His purposes, and not only as wives and mothers, though that is our primary role.  God loves women, and set men to protect them, provide for them and love them with affection, not as a lesser creation.

Love in Strong’s Concordance: Love

See also: Agape Love

Pamela Parizo © 2017