Everest, lawlessness and the coldness of the Modern Heart

I have been thinking a lot about Everest lately, and its symbolism as the highest of loves. That got me looking at blogging sites for those who have an interest in climbing Everest.

It turns out the 2012 Everest climbing season had some colourful characters and inspiring stories that need to be told.

I was surprised to learn that 4 people died on the face of Everest that year. The ascent was limited to two brief windows of opportunity in mid and late May. Some seasoned Guides wisely pulled the plug on their clients very expensive dreams to make the summit, but of those remaining (200+), most took the first window, creating a traffic jam that caught some unprepared, running out of oxygen and energy, causing them to succumb to the seductive lure of a deathly, frozen sleep.  As four souls quietly perished, hundreds of other climbers pressed on, walking past the dying, unstoppable in their own ambitious goal to reach the summit. Only one, a young jewish boy, confident to become the youngest person ever to climb Everest, sacrificed his dream for his fellow man, a reformed New York street person, who originally had wanted to carry his bike to the top. Nadav Ben-Yehuda, only 300 meter away from the summit, abandoned his climb and carried Aydin Irmak back down to base camp.

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Read more about it here

Then I thought about it and I realised it’s true. Cold is the modern heart. Why? the answer is tied up in the Greek word anomia, meaning without God’s law, often translated “iniquity”, as it is in this verse in Matthew 24:12

and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.

The word translated “love” is the Greek word “agape”, the mature, sacrificial kind of love. The kind of love that puts others before ourselves. The kind of love that Nadav displayed when he abandoned his own dreams to save another.

There is another scripture, 1 John 3:4, which says

..sin is anomia (lawlessness)

When society is ignorant of, or consciously abandons God’s laws, the result is cold love. Coldness brings hurt. Hurt leads to bitter sin and hatred, hatred breeds coldness and around we go again, cycle upon cycle, generation upon generation, till we arrive at where we are today. We have generations of sin and hurt and bitter hatred and pride parenting us, teaching us, overseeing us, marrying us… and hurt people do not allow themselves to love.

So how can we unravel this? Is it even possible? Is loving another like climbing Everest? Will our human frailty leave us cold and abandoned by her dangerous tempests? Will anyone rescue us when our most valiant attempts have failed? All I know is Everest has been scaled, and once that happened it became possible, and that inspired others to put themselves to the test. If Jesus is our Hillary, the Holy Spirit is Tenzing our guide, inspiring us to press on towards the summit of highest love.

I suppose the ultimate point of life is what road will you choose?  Will you seek to overcome the ruts in your psyche and learn to love and then continue to love though the world grows cold and selfish? Will you adopt the laws of love shown by the teachings and example of Jesus as the one who perfectly fulfilled the law, though the powers that be considered him anomia (a law breaker). Will you forgive your enemies, pray for them and as a lamb led to the slaughter, silently bear their sin and murderous rage, blessing them while they seek to tear you apart? Will you accept the laws of love even the the whole world rejects them?
Hear Nadav speak.

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Four Kinds of Love; Eros, Agape, Phileo & Storge

The Greeks had four words to describe what we call love, Eros, (romantic love), Phileo, (enjoyment, fondness, friendship), Storge (family loyalty) and Agape (unconditional love with stick-ability). I like to think of them broadly as;

  1. Eros-A love felt particularly within the body (trembling excitement, elation, joy), coloured and underpinned by deep and beautiful procreative urges. C.S. Lewis distinguishes Eros from natural sexual urges and lusts, because Eros is a state of the heart and while it is intimately related to sex, sex can exist, and often does exist, without Eros enlivening it. It leads to children, family, joy and laughter. It is good and right, but it is usually not enough to sustain a relationship long term. Eros is an exulted and beautifully idealistic love, usually between a man and woman, but can also be “platonic” and extend to deeply intimate friendships.  Socrates defined Eros as also working with the soul to recall knowledge of beauty, and in that capacity contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth;  While Eros can simply be an earthy thing, when Spirit infused and elevated to it’s true position, it speaks deeply of universal mysteries, and is usually most keenly expressed within the most sacred of all relationships, that between husband and wife. Eros suggests that even sensually-based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence.  The elevated buzz of Erotic love is said to naturally fade within a year of its beginning. Perhaps it is too exhausting and all consuming? Perhaps we just get lazy? I don’t necessarily think it has to fade at all, and part of the purpose of this blog is to record my thoughts and experiences on Eros and how we can nurture and maintain this beautiful love in our lives.
  2. Phileo- If Eros is the love of the body, Phileo is the love of the soul. It is easy love and affection, it is bent towards our natural tastes and preferences. It embodies culture and beliefs. It’s about the friendship you feel towards people like you, with the same interests, social graces, and style. In the scriptures, this kind of friendship love is used to describe many relationships. God is said to have this kind of love for us and Jesus. Jesus felt this kind of love for his disciples, parents felt it about their children and children to their parents. It is not then a shallow love, but rich in emotion and feeling, like when your heart beams towards your child when they do something wonderful. However it is also described as a negative shallow love, natural and exclusive and conditional. Phileo is soul love, and it’s strength and value will depend on the elevation of the soul of the bearer.
  3. Agape-Is more of a parental, mature, sacrificial kind of love. The Thayer Lexicon describes agape beautifully when it says “to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above all other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it.” In a way it is as idealistic as Eros, in that it is a crazy love that will not let go. Agape loves, usually at cost to the bearer. Agape puts the beloved first and sacrifices pride, self interest and possessions for the sake of that beloved. This is the love that God has for us which inspired him to sacrifice His son and for His son to obey and sacrifice himself. It is the kind of love we are commanded to have for one another. It is a love of supreme greatness.
  4. Storge-This is the love of community and family. Often dutiful, sometimes unfeeling, but very strong none the less. It is a natural, carnal love, but powerful enough to be a real hindrance to spiritual growth, especially when family and culture are holding you down. It is a love that may pull you towards a lesser path. 

Obviously, all of these loves work together, but only Agape is free from the error of our humanity. Agape is the glue that holds the other loves fast and gives us the wisdom and patience when the other loves fail. If we make it our goal to always be forgiving and merciful and believe in doing good to all men, and then do it, the other loves will stand, and your life will be full of the rich blessings of Phileo friendships and intimates of the sweetest and loveliest kind. You will stand up in the midst of your family and people and call them back to walk on pleasanter paths and on smoother highways. So, seek first the high love Agape; that sacrifices, forgives and believes; the love of Christ, freely given to those who ask and receive. Drink deeply of Christs love for you, for the fathers love for you, of this eternal and perfect love and all these other loves will be added unto you.

Song of Songs and keys for sexual bliss – chapter 2:1-7

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

Our song opens with the heroine reflecting dreamily on these words, ” I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Perhaps these are words her lover spoke during their last leisurely encounter, and now they burn in her soul, as if to make a clearing for the garden of love.

A man must first esteem his woman. He finds her beautiful and he tells her. This is rule no.1 for marital harmony. The man must genuinely love and adore his wife. It’s easy to do when she is young and perfect, at the height of her beauty. All of this is to help you bond as one and so fulfill and experience the mystery of love, and maintain it into old age where beauty fades, but the heart shines.

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love.” Proverbs 5:18,19

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” Ephesians 5:25

Does your man love you? Does he speak such wondrous things into your soul? Does he make you feel beautiful and you know he really believes it?

Love starts because He first loved us.

I believe love is at the heart of the foundational dynamic required for a successful erotic relationship. I believe it is not until the man genuinely adores and appreciates, as a valued treasure, his woman, that a relationship can begin to go forward sexually.

If a man is in a relationship for any lesser reason ie, comfort, easy sex, financial benefit, boredom, loneliness, a need for a house cleaner etc, sex will always be plagued by the emptiness and insatiability of lust. These days, women choose and pursue men, but I don’t think a woman’s love can hold a man. He must love her or learn to love her by filling his mind and soul with the heavenly imparted love that Gos has for each one of us.

In a successful erotic relationship, the male adoration of his beloved stirs a trembling response and flowering of self-acceptance in the woman. She feels and looks more beautiful when she is in love. Eros is a divine potion for a woman’s health and beauty.

“As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Now the lover makes his voice heard, pledging his fidelity with single-eyed focus. There is no comparison, his woman alone attracts his attention, so far above all others is she prized and esteemed by her King.

This builds the second pillar of Agape within the erotic relationship. When the woman feels that her man only has eyes for her, it gives her confidence and a safe environment where she can relax and express more sexual openness and trust.

“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”

The third pillar is her adoration, preference and care that she bestows on her beloved. He also is set apart in her world. In this case, the woman’s lover is represented as a wild apple tree in the woods. This was a particularly delicious tree, sweet to her taste. She would watch over it and enjoy observing the naked form blossoming in spring. Then she would eagerly await the full ripening reward of Autumns fruit.

The esteem and favor she bestows on her beloved inspires a rested, easy, delight-driven submission (I sat down under his shadow with great delight), which she knows protects and shelters her from life’s hardships. At this point she becomes vulnerable. Many women never can let themselves go there. This is another road block for your consideration.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love”

When a woman can move into a place of natural joyous submission, and honors her beloved by esteeming him more greatly than all others, it sets the stage for the fourth pillar, the response now comes from the man.

Female vulnerability inspires and draws out another of Agape’s treasures, the male desire  to protect, nurture and provide a feast for a soft woman ‘s soul. Letting a man be a man is what it is all about.

“Stay me with cakes of pressed dried raisins, comfort me with apples: for I am weak because of love”

The reward of this woman’s adoration and submission is an overwhelming depth of sexual experience that makes her weak, melting in a rest of responsiveness to her lovers movings.

“His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me”

After lovemaking is a glowing time of repose and embrace. Make the most of these comforting moments of peaceful unity.

“I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.”

There are many levels upon which one can consider these lines. Satisfying sex promotes deep feelings of relaxation and well being which one should allow our man to enjoy. Do not cut it short but indulge him. Sex will often make him sleepy. It’s ok as long as had the energy to make you happy. You might get up and clean, but let him sleep in on the weekends. Make life easy for him. You will get more good sex if he’s happy, fed and rested.

These lines could also be seen, on another level, to be the wise cry of advice from the Lover, Queen and Bride, triumphant in love. Her advice, let the man take the lead in love and be patient as he learns to do so. Adore and prefer him to all others and allow yourself to feel the natural submission that comes as a result of esteeming your man. 

 So ends the first section of the Song of Songs.