What Kind of Love Does Valentine's Day Promote?

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We often talk about true love. Yet what many people call love is actually only infatuation, defined as a foolish, unreasoning or extravagant passion or attraction (The American Heritage Dictionary, 1994).

We often talk about true love. Yet what many people call love is actually only infatuation, defined as a foolish, unreasoning or extravagant passion or attraction ( The American Heritage Dictionary, 1994).

Infatuation is a "falling-in-love" experience brought on by drastic changes in brain chemistry. Scientists now believe that the euphoria of infatuation is induced by the action of phenylethylamine (PEA). Naturally occurring in the chemistry of the brain, it is an amphetamine-like neurotransmitter.

PEA acts with dopamine and norepinephrine—a chemical derived from dopamine—to form what family and marriage therapist Patricia Love calls the "love molecule" or the "love cocktail" ( The Truth About Love, 2001, pp. 28-29).

This "love cocktail" creates a euphoria or altered state of consciousness (ibid.). But is this love?

The Greek language in which the New Testament was written uses three different words to describe three kinds of love. One is phileo, used of fondness or brotherly love. Another is eros, which refers to erotic or sexual love. The third is agapao, a broader term used in the New Testament for a selfless, outgoing concern for others (compare John:3:16; 1 Corinthians 13).

So this brings up an interesting point: If a Valentine's Day kind of love could be defined, what would it be? Based on its origins, it actually more closely resembles infatuation, or eros, and not an outgoing concern—the kind of true love between a husband and wife. GN

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