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Opinions of Sunday, 22 October 2017

Columnist: Joseph Kingsley Eyiah

Understanding Love: Biblical & Cultural Perspectives


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The book Understanding Love: Biblical & Cultural Perspectives by Rev. Dr. Charles B. Mantey is one that I highly recommend.

It could be argued that the word-LOVE- has been overused and over-stretched in many circumstances. I don’t know about you but sometimes I find myself lost in my thoughts thinking about what love really is in this cosmic theatre called life.

I believe that everyone at some point during this journey called life has encountered love in one way or the other and has tried to find an answer to the question: What Is Love?

Many of us believe that love is a mental attitude that manifests itself in outward deeds. For example, one would say, ‘if you love me prove it!’ The Bible also says, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son….” And, “If you love me keep my commandments.” Thus, love is an important ‘thread that runs through the fabric of every society’ and, it is also the foundation of the Holy Scriptures.

In this book, Rev. Mantey carefully takes us through his ownjourney of love with his wife, Faustina, for forty years now and,teaches us what love really entails using expositions from Biblical as well as cultural perspectives.

These perspectives are well researched and documented, thus, making this book a useful textbook for students, especially those studying religion and culture as well as good source of knowledge for every reader.

Also, it academically removes the misconceptions about love that ‘torture human understanding everywhere.’ References made to literature on the subject by both orthodox and contemporary writers make this book classic.

In my opinion, each of the thirteen chapters of this book discusses a unique issue on love from the meaning of love; through the ingredients of love; what love does best;misunderstanding love; biblical perspectives on love; marriage and divorce from the African Cultural point of view; love from the Western and Eastern perspectives, to the question: who needs love? Interestingly, the author aptly touches on the power of faith which is a huge topic on its own to stress the fact that love is the greatest of all the virtues of life.

It is also evident from the addition of a section on ‘discussion questions’ at the end of this book that the author seeks to engage his readers in an ‘academic exercise’ of comprehending the true meaning of love.

Unlike in his first book, African Spirituality which Rev. Manteyused a story to narrate the content, this book is written in the expository form analyzing biblical concepts as well as cultural perspectives (African, Western and Eastern) on love.

Overall, from reading this book I’m sure that many will come to understand love from the biblical and cultural perspectives and will find the courage to confront that which is not love such as hatred, envy, pride and selfishness wherever and whenever these negative concepts of life arise. Humankind craves for love and the validation of its deeds.

SOME FAVOURITE LINES FROM THE BOOK:
1) ‘Love is an emotional feeling that is expressed through various aspects of life. Songs, dramas, movies, books, poems, speeches and gestures are filled love stories ’
2) ‘To most Africans, love is understood in the broader context in relation to family, the community and the environment.’
3) ‘To the Ancient Greeks, love was defined and understood in four different ways-Agape, Phileo, Eros and Storge.’
4) ‘The mercies of God prompt us to show kindness when we remember how He has been kind to us.’
5) ‘God’s intention for marriage is for couples to be in love and live happily in permanent monogamous union.’
6) ‘Love was primarily understood as self-sacrificing and unselfish, implying a compassionate, affectionate, kind and benevolent relationship between people rather than a romantic sentiment.’

KEY LESSON: Love ultimately comes from God (God is Love)and is manifested through our gifts, talents, and abilities in our relationship with God and with our fellow human beings.

BIG QUESTION: Who needs love? BIG ANSWER: We all need love!

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