"The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union ... from all the other kinds of union that were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again. As a consequence, Christianity teaches that marriage is for life."
"Churches all agree with one another about marriage a great deal more than ... with the outside world.... They all regard divorce ... like cutting up a living body ... than it is like dissolving a business partnership.... What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else.... The idea that 'being in love' is the only reason for remaining married...leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise.... Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something that is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously [what] their passion ... itself impels them to do.... A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way.... But what ... is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons: to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married)."
|What Keeps the Engine Running in Marriage|
|What the Mature Thrill Teaches about Marriage|
"If you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them....
"So much for the Christian doctrine about the permanence of marriage. Something else, even more unpopular, remains to be dealt with. Christian wives promise to obey their husbands. In Christian marriage the man is said to be the 'head.'... The need for some head follows from the idea that marriage is permanent.... When there is a real disagreement ... they cannot decide by a majority vote, for in a council of two there can be no majority.... Either they must separate and go their own ways or else one of them must have a casting vote.... Why the man?... Is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? Even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say, 'Poor Mr. X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.'... The relations of the family to the outer world--what might be called its foreign policy--must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband.... She is the special trustee of their interests.... The husband ... has the last word ... to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubts me, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress?"
SPECIAL NOTE: C.S. Lewis married late in life and enjoyed a particularly blessed marriage, described at the end of my illustrated biography of his and J.R.R. Tolkien's lives. During that special period of Lewis's life, he wrote his masterpiece The Four Loves, which I have summarized and illustrated. The excerpt above is from chapter 6: Christian Marriage, book 3: Christian Behavior in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Click here for a clear view of how this chapter on marriage relates to the whole book.