Why Did God Give Us a Desire for Love?

By Brian Lowther

Today I continue my series exploring six common human desires and why God instilled them into us. You can read the first three installments here: The Desire for Survival and Pleasure, The Desire for Power, and The Desire for Creativity. As I noted in those three posts, I’m writing from the assumption that our desires at their roots are good and programmed into us by God for a good reason. Specifically, I think his reason is to help us participate with him in bringing his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, which is essentially a battle against darkness and evil.


Beyond survival, pleasure, power, and creativity I have a deep desire to be loved. In my experience, there is no greater feeling than the engulfing bliss of first love. Romance and fireworks, queasy stomachs and strong sensual passion, it is all absolutely dynamite. I’d go back in a heartbeat to when my wife and I fell in love. Not to change anything, but to relive the intensity of those sublime feelings.

These feelings are undoubtedly good, something I would wish for everyone. But, ultimately they’re just feelings. And, “no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all…But…ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love.” [1] In the best cases, being “in love” matures into a second kind of love, that of deliberate commitment and companionship. This is at the core of what many of us desire: a lasting and happy marriage, where infatuation has faded some but a deeper, quieter devotion has replaced it.

The result of either type of love is often children. And, while children are demanding and often infuriating, I never seem to tire of the pitter-patter of small feet, the funny ways they understand the world, or the joy of their affection after a wearisome day.

Not all of us desire marriage or family, but we all desire meaningful friendships. Friendships are the only form of love that everyone can have: i.e., not everyone has a spouse or a child or even parents.  

Why Did God Give Us this Desire to be Loved?

The ancient Greeks gave humanity something very important when they defined human love with the words: eros (romantic love), storge (family love), and philia (companionship love). [2] I think God gave us the desire for human love for reasons that coincide with these Greek words. 

Eros (romantic love)

If we’re talking in strictly military terms, God may have wanted human beings to fill and replenish the earth (Genesis 1:28) because logically, the bigger army usually wins the battle. Eros is perhaps the most expedient way to ensure that humans would “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28).

Storge (family love)

Parental nurture is in some ways, equivalent to bootcamp. It is preparation for battle. Storge protects us as children, shields us from horror and life-threatening situations, trains us until we’re mature enough to fight for and defend others and ourselves. Not every young person has this protection or training of course, because some children are orphans, or suffer child abuse. But it seems that God’s ideal was and is for us to be protected for a time from battle until we are sufficiently prepared.

Also, God must have foreseen that humanity would learn about him and his enemy in a very gradual way, a progressive arc of revelation through the centuries. Thus, he would have to instill a desire for storge (i.e., respect for elders) as a way to pass down that knowledge from one generation to the next, alleviating the need to start from scratch with every successive generation. 

Philia (companionship love) 

Philia in my mind is very closely related to camaraderie, which is a common word; but it has a very specific meaning in the military. It refers to something much deeper than mere friendship and denotes a strong, shared team spirit, a harmony of purpose and companionship. A close French term is “Esprit De Corps,” which indicates the capacity of a group's members to maintain will power and belief in an institution or goal, especially in the face of opposition or hardship. One can easily see how important this is in war. 

Occasionally we hear of a military group or team bonding as if it were an important milestone. This bonding occurs in the process of toiling together in the heat, marching in the cold, struggling for a common goal, fighting a common foe. When a group strives together and triumphs together, they bond. When they battle side-by-side and face death together, they become closer than family. When soldiers bond in this way, they will give their lives for each other. On the battlefield, it is not so much that you are willing to die for your country, but that you are willing to die for your brother in the trench next to you. This may be what Christ meant when he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).

This is the essence of philia. My hunch is that God programmed us with a desire for philia because in order to destroy any work of the devil, he knew we would need the byproducts of camaraderie: teamwork and invincible morale. On their own, individuals can’t “win a war.” To win a war you need a lot of organized effort. Think of the eradication of smallpox, or the Civil Rights Movement – these things required organized human effort on a massive scale.


One last thing I find most interesting about the desire for love: as with my desire for power and creativity, my thought process goes, “If others love me that means I am lovable. If I am lovable, then I can love myself.” That’s at the root of the desire for love. The deeper motivation is self-love. I’ll explore this desire for self-love a bit more in my next and last entry.


[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
[2] The Greeks had a fourth word for love, “Agape,” or divine love, which I’ll cover in my next entry.

Photo Credits: 
1.  Felipe Bastos/Flickr
2. PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE/Flickr
3. Darren Johnson / iDJ Photography/Flickr
4. Ikhlasul Amal/Flickr

Brian Lowther is the Director of the Roberta Winter Institute

Posted on July 16, 2015 and filed under Blog, Fourth 30.