One more King quote (thank you Ken Homer):
Now I know somebody’s saying to me, “All this talk about love can be meaningless. It can be just empty words. And what do you mean when you say love your enemies and love those who oppress you, and those who seek to misuse you? What are you talking about?” Now, I will agree with you that I’m not talking about love your opposers as you love your wife, or as you love your personal friends. That would be nonsense. I’m not talking about a sort of sentimental thing now, I’m not talking about that or an affectionate type of love. I’m talking about something more. You know the Greek comes to our aid at this point. The Greek language talks about love in several senses. It talks about eros. And Eros is a sort of aesthetic love. Plato talks about it a great deal in his dialogues. It’s a sort of romantic love–that’s what it has come to mean to us and that’s a meaningful type of love. That’s one type of love that we have for our wives and husbands, and those people that we love in a romantic sense. I guess that’s what Shakespeare was talking about when he said,
Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: It is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempest and is never shaken; It is a star to every wandering (Yes) bark.
Now you see I remember that. I remember that. [applause] Now my wife can tell you that I know that because I used to quote it to her when we were courting. [laughter] That’s eros. That’s eros. Eros is significant.
But then the Greek comes and talks about philia. (Philia) Philia is a love between personal friends. It’s a sort of reciprocal love. It loves because it’s loved.(Yes) That’s the kind of love you have for the people that you visit, and they’re your friends you call up, your roommates in school, and that type of thing. That’s philia. Now when we talk about loving those who oppose you, we’re not talking about eros or philia. But the Greek comes out with another word. It comes out talking about agape. Agape is more than eros. Agape is more than philia. Agape is the love of God working in the lives of men. (All right) Agape is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. (Yeah) It’s a love that seeks nothing in return. It’s a love that just begins to love everybody because God loves them, not because they’re so likable. (Yes) It’s because God loves them. [applause] It’s the type of love that causes you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. That’s agape. And I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m very happy he didn’t say, “Like your enemies,” because there’s some folk I don’t like and I never will like them. Like is an affectionate something. Like is a sentimental something. I will never like Eastland until he changes his ways. I don’t like what he says. I don’t like his attitude toward Negroes. I don’t like what he’s doing in Washington. But Jesus said, “Love him” (Yeah), and love is greater than like. Not a sentimental thing. [applause] So when we talk about loving your enemies, we are talking about something of a creative, redemptive sort of love. It is greater than eros and philia. I will never love some people like I love my wife or like I love my personal friends. It is agape that we are talking about now and it is this type of love, my friends, which I think is the solution to all of the problems that we confront in the South and all over the world. It is this love of God, which we find expressed throughout our Christian faith, this love of God working in the lives of men. (Amen) This is the love I’m talking about, that we’re talking about when we say love those who oppose you. And it is this love that will bring in this new age, too.