Eros Toward the World

by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

It is not difficult to see the many divisions that exist in the world and the pain caused by such discord. For example, many recent events have reminded us that race relations are not yet healed in our nation. As Christians, we are aware that we can find oneness and unity in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). However, it seems we often struggle to know what this looks like in actual practice. Thankfully, God has given us a very concrete picture of unity to help us discover and move toward oneness.

What does it look like for two to be reconciled, joined together, and unified into one? God has given us marriage in general and the act of sexual intercourse in particular to provide the illustration. As the Apostle Paul highlights, these are pictures pointing to a deeper reality, symbols revealing a much larger story (Ephesians 5:31-32). There is much more going on than simply having a happy marriage and great sex. God is trying to show us what unity looks like. This is done in part through the gift of Eros.

A classical understanding of Eros sees it as a life force that drives us toward union with self, others, the world, and God. Much beyond the mere desire for sex, Eros is the passionate desire to be united with the ultimate truth, goodness, and beauty of life.

Eros is present whenever two become one and there is an authentic intercourse, a true connection and union of beings. It is Eros that energizes the union of lovers and the union of friends, the union of cultures and societies, and even the union between humanity and the divine. (as quoted in Borderlands)

Unity is not the same as conformity. Rather, Eros honors differences. The two become one while retaining their distinctiveness. For instance, during sex, spouses are able to transcend the boundaries of their gender while still remaining fully male or female respectively. The uniqueness of gender is not lost during sex, but rather celebrated and enjoyed, and is, in fact, a vital part in establishing the union. The same is true whether we are trying to find unity in marriage or the unity in our society. When we can honor our own uniqueness, and that found in others, we can move toward unity.

Despite our society’s obsession with sex, it appears we actually need more Eros in the world. We can provide this when we steward and promote a godly sexuality. In a fallen and broken world, we need regular reminders of what unity looks like. God has given us the gift of Eros, displayed vividly through marriage and sex, to help show the way.

How will your marriage and sexuality promote true Eros in the world? How will you take the spirit of Eros beyond your bedroom and bring greater reconciliation to the world? Will you play your role to bring light and healing to the world around you?

“A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.
–Ephesians 5:31-32

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
–Matthew 5:16