By Mike T. Rogacs
“Love is the anticipation of pleasure.” This statement was made by an obscure self-proclaimed leader of the now dated “free-love movement” which this author happened to hear in a speech. Thankfully, there are signs that the concept of “free-love,” once so popular to talk about and to practice, is being abandoned by many who once expounded its supposed virtues. Not deceiving ourselves, we realize that many misguided individuals still press for this misnomer of freedom of the mind and bodily desires .(which is in reality not a freedom but a bondage of sin and empty vanity of gratification). But we seem to be witnessing a decline of the philosophy.
But the definition of “love” which was presented is an offspring of that movement and is a definition which far too many have accepted in one form or another. I almost cringe at the worldliness and ignorance which is represented by the statement in question. Having taken two sociology classes in college under a most liberal instructor, the statement “love is the anticipation of pleasure” smacks of modern sociological concepts. The concepts to which I was exposed, I thankfully was able to discern what in fact they were: empty and vain babblings, which in the realm of religion would quickly be labeled false doctrine. Throughout these lectures I was aware of the harm being done to other minds younger than mine. The sociological concepts of which we speak are ungodly and pitiful attempts (in the sense of how ridiculous the logic was expressed) to explain the nature of man and his actions, without any consideration being given to Biblical concepts about man. In fact, belief in God is treated as one stage of man’s development, a stage which should be changed or left behind as he develops further. Under the philosophy of sociology, there is nothing called sin and righteousness. Unusual conduct (or sin) is just deviant behavior, and normalcy (either righteousness or at least the current status quo) was itself deviant behavior at one time; but society learned to accept past deviant behavior as the present normalcy. In this “science” of thought, man is reduced to a higher evolved-animal whose behavior patterns have more impact on his mind than what similar behavior would have on lower forms of life. Therefore, the sociologist attempts to “improve” society by seeking to understand the deviate individuals and then adjust to them. Such a philosophy denies the existence of one unchangeable standard of morality and a supernatural author of the same.
We have gotten away from the definition of love twice stated before. But we have found it necessary to have the reader understand a little about the basis of the terminology. The Lord would call this background an example of “philosophy of vain deceit” and “science falsely so called” (Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:20). It is a classic attempt to deny God in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary (Rom. 1:18-22). When one reads the verses we have cited in Romans chapter one, he will see the somber connection to this subject when it is understood that the instructor of my classes in sociology used to be a Congregationalist preacher. The Bible speaks of those who deny God in the face of abundant evidence. Indeed! Here is a man who was a preacher in a religion which. at least feigns a belief in the scriptures, who now teaches this brand of sociology.
Bear in mind the sociologically inspired definition of love with which we started while we in turn notice a few definitions of Biblical terms:
1. Above all remember that “sin is the transgression of law” (1 John 3:4), transgression of God’s law, that is. We will see the connection with this topic in a little bit.
2. “Love.” There are two Greek words for this English word as used in the Scriptures: a) agapato-that which “seeks the welfare of all” (W. E. Vine) or the indication is “active good will.” b) phileo-“represents tender affection”, i.e. “the love of the Father for the Son” (W. E. Vine).
From these two usages of the word “love,” we can see that .the word was not intended to convey an “anticipation of pleasure.” To be more exact, the woman who used the alien definition was referring to an anticipation of sexual pleasure. That is, to “love” someone is to anticipate the sexual pleasure you hope to achieve in the relationship. Indeed, there is no room for this interpretation of the concept of love as the word was first used by our Lord!
Notice two further Biblical definitions:
3. “Pleasure”-from the Greek hedone. “The gratification of the natural desires or sinful desires” (W. E. Vine). Note again: pleasure is a fulfilling of the desires of sin (transgressions of law) and the natural desires of the flesh.
4. “lust”-from the Greek orexis. “A reaching or stretching after, a general term for every kind of desire . . . .
We wonder if the reader can see our point coming? From all that is Biblical, it cannot be said that love is something as lowly as the seeking after of the fleshly desires of man. Love is of a higher estate. It is a. tender affection between two individuals akin to the divine union between Christ and the Father, or it can be a feeling of active good will toward others.
Then what is a word for “anticipation of sexual pleasure”? Notice again definitions number three and four. Anticipation of pleasure is simply lust, To put it as Webster might have and the way our young “free-love” advocate should have: “Lust is the anticipation of pleasure.”
What we really have is a modern day demonstration of the age-old attempt at making that which is sinful appear to others to be a form of righteousness. To a “”free lover,” immoral sexual practices have become the center of his existence and he cannot bring himself to live with labels which brand him for what he is. So he calls his practice “love” hoping that in giving his sin a respectable name he can deceive others into believing that sin is not sin.
Yet the truth still remains in force: that sin is the transgression of law. God has given men and women a lawful way to fulfill the natural desires of the flesh, and this is in the union of marriage (Gen. 2:24; 1 Cor. 7:6-9). This is God’s law on the matter. Any other form of gratification of natural desires is a transgression of law-it is sin. Sexual activity is the result of lust, but God, who has promised a way to escape all temptation unto sin (1 Cor. 10:13), has granted unto us the way of marriage. But this God has not labeled the lawful or unlawful methods of fulfilling the natural desires “love.” Lust is lust. We are to choose between a lawful or an unlawful way to gratify such lust. But we are not free to make any transgression appear to be better than what it is by changing the labels!
It is no wonder then that the same people who have changed the word “lust” to “love” have also called for the overthrow of the institution of marriage. It is a natural impulse for the ungodly to try to destroy all that is good and right as they themselves go down in sin. An attempt must be made to justify their sinful actions to themselves-to someone-and opposition to godliness becomes the twisted solution.
Let us learn what we can from this and similar lessons. If what we learn is a motivation to gird up our loins and prepare to battle those who oppose our Lord in this matter, then so be it. The kingdom will be better for it. But let us learn also that there is yet a better form of pleasure we as God’s people can enjoy. In the Greek, the word for this pleasure is eudokia: “good pleasure; implies a gracious purpose, a good object being in view” (W. E. Vine). Let us learn to recognize sinful and righteous pleasures in this life and to seek. and do that which is pleasing to God. Our lives on this earth can only be more fulfilling, and we will find that we will gain our eternal home with the Father from this wisdom. In fact, as we examine the above definition of eudokia, is not the good pleasures that achieve gracious purposes the beginning of active good will toward others? We close by concluding that “Love is . . . active good will.”
Truth Magazine XIX: 41, pp. 647-648
August 28, 1975