Who doesn’t enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day with a special someone? Dinner. Love notes. Flowers. It’s all good. And, we can celebrate other types of love, too. Like the nurturing love a parent has for a child. Or the non-judgmental love of a good friend. Or the family member who always has your back.

Love comes in many forms and from varied sources.

The Semantics of Love

While the English language uses the single term love to express various types of affection, other languages differentiate the various types by using a different term for each one. The Greek language, for example, recognizes four types of love with four different terms.

  1. Eros — Romantic love
    a. The kind of love between dating and married couples
  2. Storge — Familial love
    a. The kind of love between a parent and a child
  3. Phileo — Platonic love
    a. The kind of love between comrades, deep friendship, brotherly love
  4. Agape — Unconditional, selfless love
    a. The kind of love God has for His children

Eros — Romantic Love

Eros love, which is celebrated on Valentine’s Day, is the stuff of which movies and love ballads are made. Sadly, these movies and songs typically depict an unhealthy kind of romantic love filled with pain, sorrow, and drama—what every good movie and song needs to top the charts. Right? However, such things are not desirable in a healthy relationship.

Two of Rawhide’s house parents, Ed and Patti, on the other hand, provide a healthy example of this romantic love: they respect and treat each other well. In doing so, they are healthy role models for our guys.

Storge — Familial Love

Also as house parents, Ed and Patti’s objective is to create a loving family environment. They commit to loving the guys as their own children: respecting, accepting, guiding, and disciplining them with love. Some of the Rawhide guys aren’t familiar with healthy familial love. Some have never felt loved at all.

When asked “What makes the guys feel loved?” Ed replies “It varies from guy to guy.” Each guy has his own “love language” just as we do. One guy might feel loved when the household has a daily routine he can count on such as knowing that “pop” will be reading the paper with a cup of coffee each morning in the same chair when he bounds down the stairs.

Another guy might feel loved by being rewarded with a special privilege, such as staying up an extra half hour to read or getting the basketball court alone to shoot buckets. Initially, guys don’t understand why people do kind things for them. Some guys assume Ed and Patti expect something in return because they aren’t used to receiving a privilege or gift without a catch. Ed and Patti love these young men as their own children, and when the guys follow the rules, Ed and Patty desire to bless them.

Over time, Ed and Patti see changes in a guy’s ability to express love outwardly. They attribute it to the family structure and the familial love (Storge) environment. They may express their love by having Patti’s back if someone disrespects or talks back to her. Ed sees the guys return love by listening to him when he guides them or sets boundaries.

Phileo — Platonic Love

This brotherly or friendship type of love is what our guys may develop with other guys who are going through the Rawhide program. We often hear back from alumni, years after they leave the ranch, that they have remained close to one or two guys who lived in the same house with them. They offer support and encouragement to each other as they create healthier lives.

Agape — Unconditional Love

At Rawhide, we accept the guys where they’re at and strive to show them unconditional love, while simultaneously equipping them to lead better lives. As house parents, Ed and Patti commit to selflessly loving their guys. Most importantly though, we want the guys to understand the unfailing, Agape love their heavenly Father has for them.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

What does love mean to you?

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below! Thanks!!