I was at a wedding last weekend where the priest who married the couple spent a few minutes in the homily talking about the different sorts of love - eros, agape and philia to use the greek words. The homily was talking about how a good marriage will involve all three sorts of love and, although the point was not stressed, also pointed out that a marriage can (and should) survive the temporary loss of eros. This is not the only time when it is appropriate to consider the different sorts of love. It is to be a sad reflection on the world today that many people seem to only understand love in the first of the three senses and to actually treat the other two with great suspicion. The prime example of this lack of understanding in recent days is Steven Vincent's relationship with his translator as described by his wife - with whom by the way it is clear he had a relationship that comes close to the ideal of the homily:
This is not to say that Steven did not love Nour - he did. And he was quite upfront about it to me. But it was not sexual love - he loved her for her courage, her bravery, her indomitable spirit in the face of the Muslim thugs who have oppressed their women for years. To him she represented a free and democratic Iraq, and all of the hopes he had for that still-elusive creature. And he loved her for the help she gave him - endangering herself by affiliating with him because she wanted the truth to come out about what was happening in her native city of Basra and the surrounding area. Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that it is possible to love someone in a strictly platonic way, but I assure you, it can happen - even between men and women.
The fact that even despite his wife's explanation linked to above (of what had been hitherto rather confusing news reports) was greeted with a cynical "...yeah RIGHT" by some people is more of a statement on their smallness of character than of Mr Vincent's. It seems to me that the people who don't understand that humans can feel love for each other in the Agape and Philia senses without this crossing over into Eros are themselves emotionally stunted and unable to compre. If there is one thing that I still respect about Christianity it is that Christianity is all about love - in the Philia and Agape senses. Indeed it occurs to me that this is the primary difference between the sorts of Christian that I like and the sorts that give Christianity a bad name (this means YOU Fred Phelps and Pat Robinson) and I think the same applies to other religions as well. The fundamentalist flavours of Islam show precisely the same small minded lack of trust in others that the skeptics of Mr Vincent's relationship do.
In fact I wonder whether that explains why the atheistic antiwar politically correct left seems so happy to embrace the Islamists as both require clear public adherence to every last detail and seem constitutionally incapable of trust. This also explains why both seem unclear on the concept of Honour, which goes hand in hand with the Trust required to permit oneself or one's spouse love others, and Responsibility to oneself or others.