Religious views on love vary widely between different religions.
Specific religious views
"Love is the mystery of divine revelations! Love is the effulgent manifestation! Love is the spiritual fulfilment! Love is the light of the Kingdom! Love is the breath of the Holy Spirit inspired into the human spirit! Love is the cause of the manifestation of the Truth (God) in the phenomenal world!. Love is the necessary tie proceeding from the realities of things through divine creation!"
`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá v3
Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, taught that God created humans due to his love for them, and thus humans should in turn love God. `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh's son, wrote that love is the greatest power in the world of existence and the true source of eternal happiness. The Bahá'í teachings state that all genuine love is divine, and that love proceeds from God and from humans. God's love is taught to be part of his own essence, and his love for his creatures gives them their material existence, divine grace and eternal life.
The Bahá'í teachings state that human love is directed towards both God and other humans; that the love of God attracts the individual toward God, by purifying the human heart and preparing it for the revelation of divine grace. Thus through the love of God, humans become transformed and become self-sacrificing. It is also stated that true love for other humans occurs when people see the beauty of God in other people's souls. The Bahá'í teachings state that Bahá'ís should love all humans regardless of religion, race or community, and also should love their enemies.
In Buddhism, kāma is sensuous, sexual love. The vast majority believe it to be an obstacle on the path to enlightenment, perceiving it as selfish.
Karunā is compassion and mercy, which reduces the suffering of others. It is complementary to wisdom, and is necessary for enlightenment.
Advesa and mettā are benevolent love. This love is unconditional and requires considerable self-acceptance. This is quite different from common conceptions of love which are often confused with attachment and sexual desire, and can be self-interested. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and unselfish interest in others' welfare.
The Bodhisattva ideal in Tibetan Buddhism involves the complete renunciation of oneself in order to take on the burden of a suffering world. The strongest motivation one has in order to take the path of the Bodhisattva is the idea of salvation within unselfish love for others.
Christian theology of love
Most Christians also believe that God is the source and essence of love, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8 NIV)
Most Christians believe that the greatest commandment is "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment"; in addition to the second, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself", these are what Jesus Christ called the two greatest commandments (see Mark 12:28–34, Luke 10:25–28, Matthew 22:37–39, Matthew 7:12; cf. Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 11:13, Deuteronomy 11:22, Leviticus 19:18, Leviticus 19:34). See also Ministry of Jesus#General ethics.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus said: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34–35; cf. John 15:17). Jesus also taught "Love your enemies." (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27).
"Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 (NIV)
The New Testament, which was written in Greek, only used two Greek words for love: agapē and philia. However, there are several Greek words for love.
Agapē. In the New Testament, agapē is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional. It is parental love seen as creating goodness in the world, it is the way God is seen to love humanity, and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for others.
Philia. Also used in the New Testament, philia is a human response to something that is found to be delightful. Also known as "brotherly love".
Eros (sexual love) is never used in the New Testament but is more prominent in the Old Testament.
Storge (needy child-to-parent love) only appears in the compound word philostorgos (Rom 12:10).
Saint Paul glorifies agapē in the quote above from 1 Corinthians 13, and as the most important virtue of all: "Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." (13:8 NIV).
Christians believe that because of God's agapē for humanity he sacrificed his son for them. John the Apostle wrote, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:16–17 KJV)
In Works of Love (1847), Søren Kierkegaard, a philosopher, claimed that Christianity is unique because love is a requirement.
In Hinduism kāma is pleasurable, sexual love, personified by the god Kama. For many Hindu schools it is the third end in life.
In contrast to kāma, prema or prem refers to elevated love. Love in Hinduism is sacrament. It preaches that one gives up selfishness and love without expecting anything in return.
Main article: Jewish views on love
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."
In Hebrew Ahava is the most Commonly used term for both interpersonal love and love of God. Other related but dissimilar terms are chen (grace, good will, kindness) and chesed (kindness, love), which basically combines the meaning of "affection" and "compassion" and is sometimes rendered in English as "loving-kindness" or "steadfast love."
As for love between marital partners, this is deemed an essential ingredient to life: "See life with the wife you love" (Ecclesiastes 9:9). The Biblical book Song of Songs is a considered a romantically-phrased metaphor of love between God and his people, but in its plain reading reads like a love song.
Different cultures have deified love, typically in both male and female form. Even though in monotheistic religions, the God is considered to represent love, there are often angels or similar beings that represent love as well.
Áine – goddess of fertility and passionate love in Irish mythology
Amor or Cupid – god of passionate love in Roman mythology
Antheia – goddess in Crete mythology of love, flowers, gardens, and marshes
Aonghus or Aengus— god of beauty, youth, and sensual love in Irish mythology
Aphrodite – goddess of beauty and passionate love in Greek mythology
Astarte – goddess of love in Canaanite mythogy
Eros – god of passionate love in Greek mythology
Freyja – goddess of love, fertility and war in Norse mythology
Hathor – goddess of love in Ancient Egyptian religion
Inanna – goddess of sexual love in Sumerian mythology
Ishtar – goddess of love and war in Babylonian mythology
Kama – god of sensual love in Hindu mythology
Mihr – spirit of love in Persian mythology
Rati – goddess of passionate love in Hindu mythology
Venus – goddess of beauty and passionate love in Roman mythology
Xochipilli – god in Aztec mythology