Love has reached the saturation point. In the last few years there has been a desperate, and justifiable, search for a cure-all for the deteriorating plight of mankind. The Vietnam war and the civil-rights movement made the search more urgent, and the answer that has emerged is a great big warm something called “Love.” Love has now become an overworked, overused word and consequently has lost much of its true meaning. Just a few years ago people hesitated to use the word “love” unless the degree of feeling or commitment warranted it. The present loose usage is the result of the release of emotion in the sixties with the new morality and the decay of traditional moral standards. Love-ins were held, in the vague belief that for hundreds of young people to exchange daisies in the park could accomplish some good. But the feeling of warmth soon wore off because love-ins were not based on love.

Much has been written about filial love and agape love; that is, brotherly love of man for man, which is a horizontal love, and agape love, God’s self-giving love for man, which is a vertical love. Although this distinction is repeatedly pointed out in religious books and articles, the word “love” still bounces around in conversations, group discussions, sermons, and writing, meaning many different things to different people.

It is interesting to see how certain words come into popularity. They catch on as an interesting turn of phrase, such as “no way,” and “right on.” They get pressed into service as catch-all adjectives, such as “great” and “fantastic,” now used to describe anything from a new toothpaste to a sermon. When such words and phrases are overused, they eventually lose their impact, but there is no real harm done. However, the ...

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