Four Levels of Love
Our culture embraces powerful, emotional love stories, and the great love stories throughout history all include sacrificial love.
Yet, this sacrificial love (divine love) is one aspect and Christians call it Agape Love, which is the unconditional love of Jesus Who gives his life for his Church, and in so doing frees us from the enslavement of death and sin.
Yet, for a believer to accept this Agape Love and also love in this unconditional way, we must first know we are Beloved by the Father: Storge Love (/ˈstɔːrɡi/.
Storge Love is Familial Love. That is the Love of the Father for his Son Jesus as we read when He is baptized by John in the Jordan: “This is my beloved Son.”
Storge Love of the Father for the Son is the same love that the Father has for us, for we are his sons and daughters. He is well pleased with us, not because we are good enough, but that we are good: created in his image and likeness.
Parents are to love in this same way, and if a child does not experience this Storge Love in some meaningful way, the child will struggle looking for this love which upholds the child as unconditionally good, created in God’s image. This is the source of addictions and sin.
Philia Love is Brotherly Love. We are the brothers and sisters of Jesus and we must see Jesus as our elder brother who teaches us and mentors us. Remember the two brothers of the Prodigal Son story? The father loved them both and gave them all he had; yet, the two competed with each other, one acting self-righteously and the other acting like a pig.
Finally is Eros Love, which is where we get the erotic or emotional love. This love, as understood in its original context, is to see the goodness, truth, and beauty of the other and embrace and enhance these transcendentals by embracing the other — not using the other because they are beautiful.