By Candice Lucey, Crosswalk.com
People who don’t believe in God will often say they believe in love. They might even love Jesus because he was loving, but what do they mean by that? How does the Bible define love? Bible scholars typically highlight four types of biblical love: storge, eros, phileo, and agape. You might never have heard of storge love, but you have felt it.
What Does Storge Love Mean?
Storge (pronounced storjay) refers to “familial love,” a “deep and caring bond that develops naturally between parent and children, husbands and wives, siblings” and also others who are close enough to be called “family.” According to Dolores Smyth in her article “The Four Types of Love in Scripture and How to Experience Them Today,” storge love “can withstand many trials, is protective, and loyal.”
Are the Words 'Storge Love' in Scripture?
The word “storge” is not used in the Bible. It is derived from the Greek “philostorgos” which means “tenderly loving.” The opposite of philostorgos can be found in the Bible according to Smyth: astorgous, “used in the Greek translation of Scripture to mean ‘without natural affection,’” and seen in Romans 1:31.
The word “astorgous” is translated as “heartless.” Paul is describing people “who suppress the truth” about the gospel “by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18) and whom he calls “gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful” (Romans 1:29-30) These people “disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.” (Romans 1:30-31)
Therefore, the opposite is a person who is wise, loyal, loving, and merciful, and obeys his or her parents. This person is respectful and humble, shares the truth, doesn’t spread rumors, and loves God.
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Where We See Storge Love Depicted in Scripture
Any time love is merciful, loyal, obedient, truthful, and humble...there you see storge love. When Paul writes to Philemon to intercede for his runaway slave, Onesimus, he reminds Philemon “although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.” Paul is humble: “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus.” (Philemon 1:8-10)
Onesimus was not Paul’s biological child, but in the early church, “all the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God.” (Acts 2:44-47)
They were the family Paul longed for when he was in prison or far away on a mission trip.
While the word “storge” never comes up, “the concept is there. Storge is based on familiarity. A person will love their family regardless of whether they are people the person would be drawn to otherwise; family members often have nothing in common except familiarity and blood” writes Alyssa Roat in “What Does Agape Love Really Mean in the Bible?” They weren’t related by blood, but the new believers loved each other as a family in Christ.
Bible Verses about Storge Love
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12
Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:50
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. – 1 John 3:16
None of these verses uses the word “storge,” yet each one depicts familial love. There are many times when Paul writes to his “brothers” and his “beloved” in one church or another. There is so much tenderness between fellow believers because they are united by the same Father in heaven.
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6 Ways Christians Can Show Storge Love
Even if you aren’t married, or you are an only child; even if your parents are long gone, you can still show familial love to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Believers should relate to one another in fellowship in ways similar to how members of a loving family relate to each other. There should be more than affection but also unity, even sacrifice.
Here are six ways to show deep, familial love to members of your church, care group, Bible study group, or other fellowship.
1. Pray for them. You may never have to place yourself in harm’s way for the sake of a loved one, but taking time to pray for the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ is a sacrifice of your time. In a way, this actually does put you in harm’s way—Satan will do his best to distract the faithful.
2. Forgive them. Mercy is punishment not given because of grace, which is an undeserved gift. If someone in your close circle hurts you, offer mercy. Don’t hold a grudge. Remember, love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
3. Don’t be afraid of the truth. Speak it. Accept it. Superficially “good” and “peaceful” families aren’t always loving; sometimes they’re just hiding and avoiding.
Love will take the risk to call you out on a sin you are committing. And loving others with the devotion of a parent or sibling might involve taking that same risk for the sake of another person’s relationship with Christ.
4. Be a good role model. Demonstrate love for Christ by reading Scripture, praying regularly, forgiving one another, and sharing the truth. I realize how hard this can be when I see my kids watching me. Am I merciful? Humble? And if so, am I merciful and humble when it is easy, or also when it was hard?
I hope my children see me exhibit true storge love, but I also hope they see me fail—so they can witness the amazing storge love of Christ when he forgives my sins.
5. Help one another learn about storge love. Actively demonstrate the principles of this kind of affection for one another, instead of just talking about it. If a friend thinks Christianity is a religion bent on making you feel terrible about yourself, this is a chance to exemplify how storge love courses through the veins of God’s word. It really comes alive when you can show someone “here is where God showed familial love; and here.”
It’s not always obvious until a person understands that discipline and love are closely tied. Use personal testimony and examples from your own lives. It might start with “I thought my parents were just being mean when they wouldn’t let me take the car out” or “I thought my sister betrayed me when she told mom and dad I’d been drinking.” Use your story to bring the meaning of “church family” to life.
6. Stick Together. You and your church family won’t agree on everything, but the world needs to see a united front. It's an honor to show fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t let petty disagreements pull you apart.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? – James 4:1
If you don’t like the music, or the pastor isn’t as charismatic as you would like, swallow personal desire and keep going to the church you call “home.” Of course, if they’re preaching lies, that’s different, but again: family speaks truth in love. Talk to your pastor. Leaving the church is a last resort.
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A Prayer to Show Storge Love
Father, sometimes we get mixed up about what love is. We think we want true love, when what we’re really after is a big sister who’ll just wink at us when we steal mom’s car keys. This isn’t love at all. A good sibling, one who shows storge love, will tell us when we’re doing the wrong thing. She’ll take the chance that her little sister will say she hates her and not speak to her for days, even years.
It happens, God; family love is risky. You know that better than anyone. You sent your Son to be our brother, our friend. And as our Heavenly Father, you paid the price for us to be made right with you.
So many times in our lives we reject that love. We storm off like spoiled brats, but your faithfulness endures. Please, Lord, help us to be faithful, like your Son, and show genuine love to our brothers and sisters. Expand your family through our interactions with non-believers.
In this, we have the honor and privilege of showing our love to you, because you said “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
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Candice Lucey loves Christ and writing about His promises brings her much pleasure. She lives in the mountains of BC, Canada with her family.
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