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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Illustrated Summary of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

To get right to it, C.S. Lewis assigns 4 English words to 4 distinct Greek words translated love in the New Testament, with parenthetical clarification:
  • Storge = Affection (family love, the sort of love that ought to be between near relations)
  • Philia = Friendship (friendship love, defined as more than mere companionship)
  • Eros = Eros (erotic or sexual love, the special love between the sexes)
  • Agape = Charity (divine love, or love in the distinctly Christian sense)

Read by Lewis Himself
When you read The Four Loves, however, you will find that C.S. Lewis did not get right to them since he has 6 chapters total in the book. The first chapter is an Introduction and the second is titled "Likings and Loves for the Sub-human"—a clue that the first two chapters are not user friendly. Neither chapter is included in a rare and wonderful audio recording Lewis himself did of what are literally The Four Loves. Of course, that doesn't mean the first two chapters aren't worthy, but I will not emphasize them. (Comparing the audio recordings with the book chapters, I uncovered many gems from the recordings that did not make it into the book that I presented in a separate post: *. They are here included throughout this post, when appropriate and where indicated.)

C.S. Lewis was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University when he retired shortly before he died in 1963. He wrote an important academic work called The Allegory of Love: A Study of Medieval Tradition in 1936 so in one sense Lewis was an expert on love for decades. By the time he wrote The Four Loves from a set of radio talks in 1958 (which were criticized in America at the time for their frankness about sex), he was all the more an expert on love because he married a wonderful woman named Joy in 1956, lost her to cancer in 1960, yet they enjoyed a truly glorious marriage in those four years. We are privileged that C.S. Lewis wrote down what he learned about love while he still had time.

Introduction
 
"'God is love,' says St. John. When I first tried to write this book I thought...I should be able to say that human loves deserved to be called loves at all just in so far as they resembled the Love which is God. The first distinction I made was...between...Gift-love and Need-love.... Divine Love is Gift-love. The Father gives all He is and has to the Son. The Son gives Himself back to the Father, and gives Himself to the world....What, on the other hand, can be less like anything we believe of God's life than Need-love?...I was looking forward to writing some fairly easy panegyrics on the first sort of love and disparagements of the second....The reality is more complicated than I supposed....

"Every Christian would agree that a man's spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God. But man's love for God...must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need love....Our whole being by its very nature is one of vast need: incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose....Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God. For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?...


"We must distinguish two things which might both possibly be called 'nearness to God.' One is likeness to God." The other is "what we may call nearness of approach....They do not necessarily coincide....Let us suppose that we are doing a mountain walk to the village which is our home. At mid-day we come to the top of a cliff where we are...near it because it is just below us. We could drop a stone into it. But...we can't get down. We must go a long way round...further from the village...but...in terms of progress we shall be far nearer our baths and teas....What is near [God] by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer....The likeness is given to us—and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused—the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do....

"As a better writer has said [Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ], our imitation of God in this life...must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions...the Divine life operating under human conditions....

"God is love has long been balanced in my mind against the remark...that 'Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god.'...If we ignore it, the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God.... We must join neither the idolators nor the debunkers of human love.... A plant must have roots below as well as sunlight above and roots must be grubby.... The human loves can be glorious images of divine love...but also no more...which in once instance may help, and in another may hinder, proximity of approach."

Likings and Loves for Objects
 
"Most of my generation were reproved as children for saying that we 'loved' strawberries.... Nearly all speakers, however pedantic or however pious, talk every day about 'loving' a food, a game, or a pursuit.... To 'like' anything means to take some sort of pleasure in it.... Pleasures can be divided into two classes...Need-pleasures and Pleasures of Appreciation.... Need-pleasure is the state in which Appreciative pleasures end up when they go bad (by addiction).... The most innocent and necessary of Need-pleasures [such as eating and drinking]...'die on us' with extraordinary abruptness.... The smell of frying food is very different before and after breakfast.... Pleasures of Appreciation...make us feel that something has not merely gratified our senses but claimed our appreciation by right....

"How the Need-pleasures foreshadow our Need-loves is obvious enough.... The Need-love, like the Need-pleasure, will not last longer than the need. This does not, fortunately, mean that all affections which begin in Need-love are transitory.... Moral principles (conjugal fidelity, filial piety, gratitude, and the like) may preserve the relationship for a lifetime. But where Need-love is left unaided we can hardly expect it not to 'die on us'.... Our need-love for God is in a different position because our need of Him can never end...but our awareness of it can, and then the Need-love dies too.... Appreciative pleasure...is the starting point for our whole experience of beauty.... Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve...God; Appreciative love says: 'We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory'....

"Two forms of love for what is not personal demand special treatment." These are the love of nature and the love of country. "The only imperative that nature utters is, 'Look. Listen. Attend'.... Nature cannot satisfy the desires she arouses nor answer theological questions nor sanctify us. Our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on her; passing from the dawn-lit fields into some poky little church.... Nature 'dies' on those who try to live for a love of nature....

"I turn now to the love of one's country.... This love becomes a demon when it becomes a god. Some begin to suspect that it is never anything but a demon. But then they have to reject half the high poetry and half the heroic action [the human] race has achieved. We cannot keep even Christ's lament over Jerusalem. He too exhibits love for His country...."

Affection

"In Greek they have four words for love: storge (two syllables and the g is hard) means affection, the sort of love that ought to be between near relations; philia means friendship; eros is, of course, the love between the sexes; and agape (three syllables, long e) is love in the Christian senseGod's love for man and the Christian's love for the brethren. I want to talk about all four and I'll begin with storge or affection, the humblest of the loves, the love which seems to differ least from that of the animals. I do not on that account give it a lower value. Nothing in Man is either worse or better for being shared with the beasts. When we blame a man for being 'a mere animal,' we mean not that he displays animal characteristics (we all do) but that he displays these...on occasions where the specifically human was demanded..... The Greeks called this love storge (two syllables and the g is 'hard). I shall here call it simply Affection. My Greek Lexicon defines storge as 'affection, especially of parents to offspring'; but also of offspring to parents.... The image we must start with is that of a mother nursing a baby...a cat with a basketful of...kittens; all in a squeaking nuzzling heap together; purrings, lickings, baby-talk, milk, warmth, the smell of young life....

Only in the Presence of the Familiar
"But even in animal life, and still more in our own, Affection extends far beyond the relation of mother and young. This warm comfortableness, this satisfaction in being together, takes in all sorts....Almost anyone can become an object of Affection: the ugly, the stupid, even the exasperating.... It ignores the barriers of age, sex, class, and education.... It ignores even the barriers of species. We see it not only between dog and man but, more surprisingly, between dog and cat.... But Affection has its own criteria. Its objects have to be familiar. We can sometimes point to the very day and hour when we fell in love or began a new friendship. I doubt if we ever catch Affection beginning. To become aware of it is to become aware that it has already been going on for some time.... The dog barks at strangers who have never done it any harm and wags its tail for old acquaintances even if they never did it a good turn....

"People can be proud of being 'in love,' or of friendship. Affection is modest—even furtive and shame-faced. Once when I had remarked on the affection quite often found between cat and dog, my friend replied, 'Yes. But I bet no dog would ever confess it to the other dogs.'... It usually needs absence or bereavement to set us praising those to whom only Affection binds us. We take them for granted: and this taking for granted, which is an outrage in erotic love, is here right and proper up to a point. It fits the comfortable, quiet nature of the feeling." In the audio recordings C.S. Lewis adds, "The feeling of storge is so nearly organic, so gradual, so unemphatic, that you could no more pride yourself on it than on getting sleepy towards bedtime. It lives with humble, undressed private things: the thump of a drowsy dog's tail on the kitchen floor...a toy left on the lawn. It's the most comfortable and least ecstatic of loves. It is to our emotions what soft slippers and an easy, almost worn-out chair and old clothes are to our bodies. Wraps you around like a blanket, almost like sleep."

"I am talking of Affection as it is when it exists apart from the other loves ... but ... Affection ... can enter into the other loves and ...  become the medium in which from day to day they operate. They would not perhaps wear very well without it." Lewis adds here in the radio broadcast, "Every good marriage, even every courtship, makes for its eros, so to speak, a nest of storge, like the nest of rice you build for your helping of curry." It is something mellow that balances the spice in life. Lewis continues in the book, "To make a friend is not the same as to become affectionate. But when your friend has become an old friend, all those things about him which had originally nothing to do with the friendship become familiar and dear with familiarity.... There is indeed a peculiar charm, both in friendship and in Eros, about those moments when Appreciative love lies...curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship...wraps us round....

"Affection...is not primarily an Appreciative love. It is not discriminating.... The...glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically...if they had not found themselves...in the same households or community, would have had nothing to do with each other. If Affection grows out of this—of course it often does not—their eyes begin to open. Growing fond of 'old so-and-so,' at first simply because he happens to be there, I...begin to see that there is 'something in him' after all....We are learning to appreciate goodness or intelligence in themselves, not merely goodness or intelligence flavoured and served to suit our own palate....Truly wide taste in humanity will...find something to appreciate in the cross-section of humanity whom one has to meet every day. In my experience it is Affection that creates this taste, teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate, the people who 'happen to be there'...odder than you could have believed and worth far more than we guessed.

King Lear Demands Affection
"And now we are drawing near the point of danger.... Symptomatic of this, perhaps, is the odiousness of nearly all...tunes and...poems in which popular art expresses Affection. They are odious because of their falsity. They represent as a ready-made recipe for bliss (and even for goodness) what is in fact only an opportunity. There is no hint that we shall have to do anything: only let Affection pour over us like a warm shower...and all, it is implied, will be well. Affection...includes both Need-love and Gift love. I begin with the Need—our craving for the Affection of others....At the beginning of King Lear the hero is shown as a very unlovable old man devoured with a ravenous appetite for Affection....We all know that we must do something, if not to merit, at least to attract, erotic love or friendship. But Affection is often assumed to be provided, ready made, by nature....We have a right to expect it. If the others do not give it, they are 'unnatural.'... 


A Sealed Fountain
"What we have is not 'a right to expect' but a 'reasonable expectation' of being loved by our intimates if we, and they, are more or less ordinary people. But we may not be. We may be intolerable.... The very same conditions of intimacy which make Affection possible also...make possible...distaste.... Old is a term of wearied loathing as well as of endearment: 'at his old tricks'...'the same old thing.'... If people are already unlovable a continual demand on their part...to be loved...[seals] up the very fountain for which they are thirsty. And of course such people always desire the same proof of our love: we are to join their side, to hear and share their grievance against someone else.... All the while they remain unaware of the real road. 'If you would be loved, be lovable.'...

"The really surprising thing is not that these insatiable demands...are sometimes made in vain, but that they are so often met. Sometimes one sees a woman's girlhood, youth...up to the verge of old age all spent in tending, obeying, caressing, and perhaps supporting, a maternal vampire who can never be caressed and obeyed enough. The sacrifice—but there are two opinions about that—may be beautiful; the old woman who exacts it is not.

"The 'built-in' or unmerited character of Affection...invites a hideous misinterpretation. So does its ease and informality. We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation...but in fact I have been far more impressed by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents. Who has not been the embarrassed guest at family meals where the father or mother treated their grown-up offspring with an incivility which, offered to any other young people, would simply have terminated the acquaintance? Dogmatic assertions on matters which the children understand and their elders don't, ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously...insulting references to their friendsall provide an easy answer to the question, Why are they always out?...If you asked any of these insufferable people...why they behaved that way at home, they would reply, '...One comes home to relax....If a man can't be himself in his own house, where can he?...We're a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand.'...

"It is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong. Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease...but old clothes are one thing; to wear the same shirt till it stank would be another.... There is a distinction between public and domestic courtesy. The root principle of both is the same: 'that no one give any kind of preference to himself.'...Affection at its best practices a courtesy which is...more subtle, sensitive, and deep that the public kind....Affection...can say whatever Affection at its best wishes to say, regardless of the rules that govern public courtesy, for [it] wishes neither to wound nor to humiliate nor to domineer....You may tease and hoax and banter. You can say 'Shut up. I want to read.' You can do anything in the right tone and at the right moment....The better the Affection the more unerringly it knows which these are (every love has its art of love)....To be free and easy when you are presented to some...stranger is bad manners; to practice formal and ceremonial courtesies at home ('public faces in private places')" is also bad.

"We have not yet touched on jealousy....Change is a threat to Affection. A brother and sister, or two brothers [the latter being C.S. Lewis's experience] ...grow...sharing everything. They have read the same comics, climbed the same trees, been pirates or spacemen together.... Then...one of them...discovers poetry or science or serious music or perhaps undergoes a religious conversion. His life is flooded with the new interest. The other cannot share it; he is left behind.... Affection is the most instinctive, in that sense the most animal, of the loves; its jealousy is proportionately fierce. It snarls and bares its teeth like a dog whose food has been snatched away....Something or someone has snatched away from the child I am picturing his lifelong food, his second self. His world is in ruins. But it is not only children who react thus. Few things...are more nearly fiendish than the rancour with which a whole unbelieving family will turn on the one member of it who has become a Christian.... It is the reaction to a desertion...he who was one of Us has become one of Them.... Sometimes a curious double jealousy is felt....'Supposing—it can't be, it musn't be...there was something in...Christianity? How if the deserter has really entered a new world which the rest of us never suspected? But, if so, how unfair! Why him?... A [mere boy] being shown things that are hidden from their elders?' And since that is clearly incredible and unendurable, jealousy returns to the hypothesis 'All nonsense.'...

"All these perversions of Affection are mainly connected with Affection as a Need-love. But Affection as a Gift-love has its perversions too.... The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves.... Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication.... A much higher lovea love which desires the good of the object...must step in and help.... Where it does not, the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs.... My own profession—that of a university teacher—is in this way dangerous. If we are any good we must always be working towards the moment...our pupils are fit to become our critics and rivals.... This terrible need to be needed often finds its outlet in pampering an animal....

"I hope I am not being misunderstood.... Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.... Selfish or neurotic people can twist anything, even love, into some sort of misery or exploitation.... But I believe that everyone who is honest with himself will admit that he has felt these temptations. Their occurrence is not a disease; or if it is, the name of that disease is Being a Fallen Man. In ordinary people the yielding to them—and who does not sometimes yield?—is not disease, but sin. Spiritual directing will here help us more than medical treatment. Medicine labors to restore 'natural' structure or 'normal' function. But greed, egoism, self-deception, and self-pity are not unnatural or abnormal.... For who ... would describe as natural or normal the man from whom these failings were wholly absent?... We have seen only one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist's picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can't really be very well adjusted to your world if it says you 'have a devil' and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.

"Affection produces happiness ifand only ifthere is common sense [reason] and give and take [justice] and 'decency'.... This means goodness, patience, self-denial, humility, and the continual intervention of a far higher sort of love than Affection, in itself, can ever be. That is the whole point. If we try to live by Affection alone, Affection will 'go bad on us.' How bad, I believe we seldom recognize.... [All forms of love] carry in them the seeds of hatred. If Affection is made the absolute sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon."

Friendship

Few Modern Counterparts
"When either Affection or Eros is one's theme, one finds a prepared audience. The importance and beauty of both have been stressed and almost exaggerated again and again.... Very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all. I cannot remember that any poem since In Memoriam, or any novel, has celebrated it. ["'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is the most famous line from Tennyson's memorial to his college friend.] Tristan and Isolde, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, have innumberable counterparts in modern literature: David and Jonathan...have not. To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all the loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends.' But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceships which those who make it would describe as 'friendships,' show clearly that what they are talking about...is something quite marginal; not a main course in life's banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of one's time. How has this come about?

"The first and most obvious answer is that few value it because few experience it.... Friendship is...least natural of loves; the least instinctive, organic, biological...and necessary.... Without Eros none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship.... The pack or herd—the community—may even dislike and distrust it. Its leaders very often do.... This...quality in Friendship goes far to explain why it was exalted in ancient and medieval times and has come to be made light of in our own. The deepest and most permanent thought of those ages was ascetic and world-renouncing. Nature and emotion and the body were feared as dangers to our souls.... Inevitably that sort of love was most prized which seemed most independent...of mere nature.... But then came Romanticism and...the 'return to nature' and the exaltation of Sentiment...which, though often criticised, has lasted ever since. Finally, the exaltation of instinct....

"Other causes have contributed. To those...who see human life merely as a development and complication of animal life, all forms of behaviour which cannot produce certificates of an animal origin...are suspect.... That outlook which values the collective above the individual necessarily disparages Friendship: it is a relation between men at their highest level of individuality.... Some forms of democratic sentiment are naturally hostile to it....

"It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual." C.S. Lewis adds in the radio broadcast, "It doesn't at all prove that those who bring the charge are homosexuals themselves, nor would I moralize upon them if they were. How a man can feel anything but bewildered pity for the genuinely homosexual I've never been able to understand. What it does prove is that they've either never known friendship or never known eros." He goes on to explain in the book, "In some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important.... 

"True friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can...say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, 'Here comes one who will augment our loves.'... In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious 'nearness by resemblance' to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the [experience] each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.... The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have....

"On a broad historical view it is...not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors [kisses, tears, and embraces regardless of gender] but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step. I have said that...both the individual and the community can survive without [Friendship]. But there is something else, often confused with Friendship, which the community does need; something which is the matrix of Friendship. In the early communities the co-operation of the males as hunters or fighters was no less necessary than the begetting and rearing of children. A tribe where there was no taste for the one would die no less surely than a tribe where there was no taste for the other.... We men [got] together and [did] things. We had to. And to like doing what must be done is a characteristic that has survival value. We not only had to do the things, we had to talk about them. We had to plan the hunt and the battle. When they were over we had to...draw conclusions for future use. We liked this even better. We ridiculed or punished the cowards and bunglers, we praised the star-performers. We revelled in technicalities (...'I had a lighter arrowhead; that's what did it'...). In fact, we talked shop...all bound together by shared skill, shared dangers and hardships, esoteric jokes—away from the women and children.... They certainly often had rituals from which men were excluded....

"This pleasure in co-operation, in talking shop, in the mutual respect and understanding of men who daily see one another tested is...something...we all understand.... I prefer to call it Companionship—or Clubbableness. This Companionship is, however, only the matrix of Friendship. It is often called Friendship, and many people when they speak of their 'friends' mean only their companions. But it is not Friendship in the sense I give to the word. By saying this I do not at all intend to disparage the merely Clubbable relation. We do not disparage silver by distinguishing it from gold. Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, 'What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'...In this kind of love, as Emerson said, Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth?Or at least, 'Do you care about the same truth?' The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer....


Common Interest Needed
"People who simply 'want friends' can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the truth? would be 'I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend,' no Friendship can arise—though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something.... Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.

"When...two people who... discover...they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them [may] very easily pass...into erotic love. Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later. And conversely, erotic love may lead to Friendship between the lovers. But this, so far from obliterating the distinction between the two loves, puts it into clearer light. If one who was first, in the deep and full sense, your Friend, is then gradually or suddenly revealed as also your lover you will certainly not want to share the Beloved's erotic love...but you will have no jealousy at all about sharing the Friendship. Nothing so enriches...as the discovery that the Beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into Friendship with the Friends you already had: to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love but we three or four or five are all travelers on the same quest, have all a common vision....

"It could be argued that Friendships are of practical value to the Community. Every civilised religion began in a small group of friends. Mathematics effectively began when a few Greek friends got together to talk about numbers and lines and angles.... Communism...Methodism, the movement against slavery, the Reformation, the Renaissance, might perhaps be said...to have begun in the same way.... But nearly every reader would probably think some of these movements good for society and some bad. The whole list, if accepted, would tend to show, at best, that Friendship is both a possible benefactor and a possible danger to the community....

"Others...would say that Friendship is extremely useful...to the individual. They could produce plenty of authority: 'bare is back without brother behind it' and 'there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.' But [that is] using friend to mean 'ally.' In ordinary usage friend means, or should mean, more than that. A Friend will, to be sure, prove himself to be also an ally when alliance becomes necessary; will lend or give when we are in need...because you would be a false friend if you would not.... The role of benefactor, [however], always remains accidental, even a little alien, to that of Friendship.... We are sorry that any gift or loan...should have been necessary—and now, for heaven's sake, let us forget all about it and go back to the things we really want to do or talk of together.... 'Don't mention it'...expresses what we really feel. The mark of perfect Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all....

"Friendship, unlike Eros, is uninquisitive. You became a man's Friend without knowing or caring whether he is married or single or how he earns his living. What have all these 'unconcerning things, matters of fact' to do with the real question, Do you see the same truth?... In a circle of true Friends...no one cares...about anyone else's family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history. Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end. But casually. They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy...never for their own sake. That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts....

"Hence (if you will not misunderstand me) the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love. I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival." C.S. Lewis observes in the radio broadcast that
"the friend is most clearly distinguishable from the companion in that after any tract of time or any change of residence or occupation, the old unity will be intact. Everything will be taken up again as if we had been parted for only a few hours. We've no need to fall back on reminiscences, though we may do so for the pleasure of it, but we're not reduced to them. Whereas the attempted revival of mere companionship has no other coin. The difference between mere companionship and friendship depends on the nature of the shared activity."

The book goes on to explain that "the common quest or vision which unites Friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious of one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which their mutual love and knowledge exist. One knows nobody so well as one's 'fellow.' Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves. Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind. If, at the outset," we payed more attention "to him and less to the thing our Friendship is 'about,' we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not" come to know "the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your [mate]: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.

"In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is [blessed] beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions...an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life—natural life—has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?" That is why, says Lewis in the radio broadcast,
"the death of a friend may impoverish us every year or every month until we die. We are like a man who has lost a limb. The stump may not ache or not much, but no more tennis, no more mountain walks. Write it all off."

In his book C.S. Lewis observes that "in most societies at most periods friendships will be between men and men or between women and women ... for they will seldom have had with each other the companionship in common activities which is the matrix of Friendship.... It is this lack, rather than anything in their natures, which excludes Friendship; for where they can be companions they can also become Friends. Hence in a profession (like my own) where men and women work side by side, or in the mission field, or among authors and artists, such Friendship is common. To be sure, what is offered as Friendship on one side may be mistaken for Eros on the other, with painful and embarrassing results. Or what begins as Friendship in both may become also Eros.... Sensible women...if they wanted, would certainly be able to qualify themselves for the world of discussion and ideas [as opposed to mainly narrative forms of communication].... If they are not qualified, [they] never try to enter it or to destroy it. They have other fish to fry. At a mixed party they gravitate to one end of the room and talk women's talk to one another. They don't want us, for this sort of purpose, any more than we want them. It is only the riff-raff of each sex that wants to be incessantly hanging on the other." In the audio recordings C.S. Lewis emphatically states,
"I have the deepest suspicions of those wretched people who find no pleasure in the society of their own sex. Heaven protect me from a man who needs only women and a woman who needs only men!" In the book he observes that women enriched by same-sex camaraderie laugh at men "a good deal. That is just as it should be.... No one ever really appreciated the other sex...without at times feeling them to be funny. For both sexes are. Humanity is tragi-comical....

"Friendship...love, free from instinct, free from all duties but those which love has freely assumed, almost wholly free from jealousy, and free from...the need to be needed, is eminently spiritual. It is the sort of love one can imagine between angels.... Let us beware.... There is spiritual evil as well as spiritual good. There are unholy, as well as holy, angels." In the radio broadcast Lewis states plainly,
"Friends give us moral supportor immoral support....There's a moral ambivalence inherent in friendship.... Friendship is a resistance movement. It can resist God as well as society." The book takes into account the following three significant facts:

  1. The distrust Authorities tend to have of close Friendships among their subjects. It may be unjustified; or there may be some basis for it.
  2. The attitude of the majority towards all circles of close Friends. Every name they give such a circle is more or less derogatory: a set, a gang, or a mutual admiration society. Of course this is the voice of Envy. But Envy always brings the truest charge, or the charge nearest to the truth...it hurts more. The charge, therefore, will have to be considered.
  3. Friendship is very rarely the image under which Scripture represents the love between God and Men. It is not entirely neglected; but far more often, seeking a symbol for the highest love of all, Scripture ignores this seemingly almost angelic relation and plunges into the depth of what is most natural and instinctive. Affection is taken as the image when God is represented as our Father; Eros, when Christ is represented as the Bridegroom of the Church.
"Let us begin with the suspicions of those in Authority.... Alone among unsympathetic companions, I hold certain views and standards timidly, half ashamed to avow them and half doubtful if they can after all be right. Put me back among my Friends and in half an hour—in ten minutes—these same views and standards become once more indisputable.  The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders. It is therefore easy to see why Authority frowns on Friendship. Every real Friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion. It may be a rebellion...of good men against the badness of society or of bad men against its goodness.... Men who have real Friends are less easy to manage or 'get at'; harder for good Authorities to correct or for bad Authorities to corrupt.... The element of secession, of indifference or deafness (at least on some matters) to the voices of the outer world, is common to all Friendships.... As I know I should be an Outsider to a circle of golfers, mathematicians, or motorists, so I claim the equal right of regarding them as Outsiders to mine. People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often. The danger is that this partial indifference or deafness to outside opinion, justified and necessary though it is, may lead to a wholesale indifference or deafness....

"But that is not all. The partial and defensible deafness was based on some kind of superiority—even if it were only a superior knowledge about stamps. The sense of superiority will then get itself attached to the total deafness. The group will disdain as well as ignore those outside it.... I have said that in a good Friendship each member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid and counts himself lucky to be among them. But unfortunately the they and them are also, from another point of view we and us. Thus the transition from individual humility to corporate pride is very easy.... I think we have all recognised some such tendency in...circles to which we are the Outsiders. I was once at some kind of conference where two clergymen, obviously close friends, began talking about 'uncreated energies' other than God. I asked how there could be any uncreated things except God if the Creed was right in calling Him 'the maker of all things visible and invisible.' Their reply was to glance at one another and laugh. I had no objection to their laughter, but I wanted an answer in words as well. It was not at all a sneering or unpleasant laugh. It expressed very much what Americans would express by saying 'Isn't he cute?'...

"We can detect the pride of Friendshipwhether Olympian [tranquil and tolerant, making Outsiders feel like children], Titanic [militant and embittered against Outsiders], or merely vulgar [meant to make people feel like Outsiders]—in many circles of Friends. It would be rash to assume that our own is safe from its danger; for of course it is in our own that we should be slowest to recognise it.... Friendship must exclude. From the innocent and necessary act of excluding to the spirit of exclusiveness is an easy step; and thence to the degrading pleasure of exclusiveness.... The mass of the people, who are never quite right, are never quite wrong. They are hopelessly mistaken in their belief that every knot of friends came into existence for the sake of...conceit and superiority.... But they would seem to be right in diagnosing pride as the danger to which Friendships are naturally liable. Just because this is the most spiritual of loves the danger which besets it is spiritual too....


Safe Symbols
"Perhaps we may now hazard a guess why Scripture uses Friendship so rarely as an image of the highest love. It is already, in actual fact, too spiritual to be a good symbol of Spiritual things. The highest does not stand without the lowest. God can safely represent Himself to us as Father and Husband because only a lunatic would think that He is physically our sire or that His marriage with the Church is other than mystical. But if Friendship were used for this purpose we might mistake the symbol for the thing symbolised....


"Friendship, then, like the other natural loves, is unable to save itself.... Because it is spiritual and therefore faces a subtler enemy, it must...invoke the divine protection if it hopes to remain sweet. For consider how narrow its true path is. It must not become...'a mutual admiration society'; yet if it is not full of mutual admiration, of Appreciative love, it is not Friendship at all.... It must be for us in our Friendships as it was for Christiana and her party in The Pilgrim's Progress: 'They...could not see that glory each one on herself which they could see in each other. Now therefore they began to esteem each other better than themselves. For you are fairer than I am, said one; and you are more comely than I am, said another.' There is...only one way...we can taste this illustrious experience with safety. And Bunyan has indicated it in the same passage. It was in the House of the Interpreter, after they had been bathed, sealed and freshly clothed in 'White Raiment' that the women saw one another in this light. If we remember the bathing, sealing and robing, we shall be safe....
 
"In Friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the date of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meetingany of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ...can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.... At this feast it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host. Not that we must always partake of it solemnly.... It is one of the difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game."   

Sexual Love

"...I am inquiring not into the sexuality which is common to us and the beasts...but into one uniquely human variation of it which develops within 'love'what I call Eros [the state of being in love]. The sexual element within Eros I intend (following an old usage) to call Venus.... Sexuality may operate without Eros or as part of Eros. Let me hasten to add that I make the distinction simply in order to limit our inquiry and without any moral implications. I am not at all subscribing to the popular idea that it is the absence or presence of Eros which makes the sexual act 'impure' or 'pure,' degraded or fine, unlawful or unlawful....The times and places in which marriage depends on Eros are in a small minority. Most of our ancestors were married off in early youth to partners chosen by their parents on grounds that had nothing to do with Eros. They went to the act with no other 'fuel,' so to speak, than plain animal desire. And they did right; honest Christian husbands and wives [in some cases], obeying their fathers and mothers, discharging to one another their 'marriage debt,' and bringing up families in the fear of the Lord.

"Conversely, this act, done under the influence of a soaring and iridescent Eros...may yet be plain adultery, may involve breaking a wife's heart, deceiving a husband, betraying a friend, polluting hospitality, and deserting your children. It has not pleased God that the distinction between a sin and a duty should turn on fine feelings. This act, like any other, is justified (or not) by far more...definable criteria: by the keeping or breaking of promises, by justice or injustice, by charity or selfishness, by obedience or disobedience....

"There may be those who have first felt mere sexual appetite for a woman and then gone on at a later stage to fall in love with her." That is what schoolboys imagine  falling in love will be like, states C.S. Lewis in his radio broadcast, but he goes on to state there and in the book, "I doubt if this is at all common. Very often what comes first is simply a delighted preoccupation with the Beloveda general, unspecified preoccupation with her in her totality. A man in this state really hasn't leisure to think of sex. He is too busy thinking of a person. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself.... If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, 'To go on thinking of her.'... When at a later stage the explicitly sexual element awakes, he will not feel (unless scientific theories are influencing him) that this had all along been the root of the whole matter.... Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it, the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved.

"The thing is a sensory pleasure...an event occurring within one's own body. We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he 'wants a woman.' Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman...may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes). Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but one particular woman. In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give. No lover in the world ever sought the embraces of the woman he loved as the result of a calculation...that they would be more pleasurable than those of any other woman. If he raised the question he would, no doubt, expect that this would be so. But to raise it would be to step outside the world of Eros altogether....

"Eros thus wonderfully transforms ...a Need-pleasure into the most Appreciative of all pleasures.... In Eros, a Need, at its most intense, sees the object most intensely as a thing admirable in herself, important far beyond her relation to the lover's need. If we...were mere logicians, we might boggle at the conception of desiring a human being, as distinct from desiring any pleasure, comfort, or service that human being can give. And it is certainly hard to explain.... Without Eros sexual desire, like every other desire, is a fact about ourselves. Within Eros it is rather about the Beloved.... Eros, though the king of pleasures, always (at his height) has the air of regarding pleasure as a by-product." "Hence in his realm," as Lewis explains in his audio recording, "the miraculous combination of great desire with great ease in abstaining. And anyway, whose pleasure? One of the first things Eros does is to obliterate the distinction between giving and receiving," as both the book and the audio state.

"Hitherto I have been trying merely to describe, not to evaluate. But certain moral questions now inevitably arise, and I must not conceal my own view of them. It is submitted rather than asserted, and of course open to correction by better men, better lovers and better Christians. It has been widely held in the past...that the spiritual danger of Eros arises almost entirely from the carnal element within it; that Eros is 'noblest' or 'purest' when Venus is reduced to the minimum.... This is not the Scriptural approach. St. Paul, [mildly] dissuading his converts from marriage, says nothing about that side of the matter except to discourage prolonged abstinence from Venus (1 Cor. 7:5). What he fears is pre-occupation, the need for constantly 'pleasing'—that is, considering—one's partner, the multiple distractions of domesticity. It is marriage itself, not the marriage bed, that will be likely to hinder us from waiting uninterruptedly on God. And surely St. Paul is right? If I may trust my own experience, it is (within marriage as without) the practical...cares of this world, and even the smallest...of those cares, that are the great distraction. The gnat-like cloud of petty anxieties and decisions about the...next hour have interfered with my prayers more often than any passion or appetite whatever....

Antidote to Too Much Solemnity
"Eros...reduces the nagging and addictive character of mere [sexual] appetite. And that not simply by satisfying it. Eros, without diminishing desire, makes abstinence easier. He tends, no doubt, to a pre-occupation with the Beloved which can indeed be an obstacle to the spiritual life.... The real spiritual danger in Eros as a whole lies, I believe, elsewhere. I will return to the point. For the moment, I want to speak of the danger which at present...haunts the act of love. This is a subject on which I disagree, not with the human race (far from it), but with many of its gravest spokesmen. I believe we are all being encouraged to take Venus too seriously; at any rate, with a wrong kind of seriousness. All my life a ludicrous...solemnization of sex has been going on.... A young man to whom I had described as 'pornographic' a novel that he much admired, replied with genuine bewilderment, 'Pornographic? But how can it be? It treats the whole thing so seriously'as if a long face were a sort of moral disinfectant.... Our advertisements, at their sexiest, paint the whole business in terms of the rapt, the intense, the swoony-devout; seldom a hint of gaiety.... We have reached the stage at which nothing is more needed than a roar of old-fashioned laughter.

"But, it will be replied, the thing is serious. Yes; quadruply so.
  1. First, theologically, because this is the body's share in marriage which, by God's choice, is the mystical image of the union between God and Man.
  2. Second...our human participation in...the natural forces of life and fertility....
  3. Third, on the moral level, in view of the obligations involved and the incalculable momentousness of being a parent and ancestor.
  4. Finally, it has (sometimes, not always) a great emotional seriousness in the minds of the participants.
"But eating is also serious...yet we do not bring [exam books] to dinner nor behave there as if we were in church. And it is gourmets, not saints, who come nearest to doing so. Animals are always very serious about food....

"It is not for nothing that every language and literature in the world is full of jokes about sex. Many of them may be dull or disgusting and nearly all of them are old...[but if you] banish play and laughter from the bed of love...you may let in a false goddess.... Venus...herself is a...mischievous spirit.... When all external circumstances are fittest for her service she will leave one or both lovers totally indisposed for it. When every overt act is impossible and even glances cannot be exchangedin trains, in shops, and at interminable parties—she will assail them with all her force. An hour later, when time and place agree, she will have mysteriously withdrawn; perhaps from only one of them. What...resentments, self-pities, suspicions, wounded vanities and all the current chatter about 'frustration' in those who have deified her! But sensible lovers laugh. It is all part of the game; a game of catch-as-catch-can, and the escapes and tumbles and head-on collisions are to be treated as a romp." As the broadcast delightfully adds, "Only if we so treat them shall we fall soft, and lose with good temper, and win (when we do win) lightheartedly."

In the book Lewis continues, "I can hardly help regarding it as one of God's jokes that a passion so soaring, so apparently transcendent, as Eros, should thus be linked in incongruous symbiosis with a bodily appetite which, like any other appetite, tactlessly reveals its connections with such mundane factors as weather, health, diet, circulation, and digestion.... It is a continual demonstration of the truth that we are composite creatures, rational animals, akin on one side to the angels, on the other to tom-cats. It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, I grant you, at our expense, but also (who doubts it?) for our endless benefit.

"Man has held three views of his body.
  1. First there is that of those ascetic Pagans who called it the prison or the 'tomb' of the soul, and of Christians like Fisher to whom it was a 'sack of dung,' food for worms...a source of nothing but temptation to bad men and humiliation to good ones.
  2. Then there are the Neo-Pagans, the nudists...to whom the body is glorious.
  3. Third we have the view which St. Francis expressed by calling his body 'Brother Ass.'

"All three may be—I am not sure—defensible; but give me St. Francis for my money. Ass is exquisitely right because no one in his senses can either revere or hate a donkey. It is a useful, sturdy, lazy, obstinate, patient, lovable and infuriating beast; deserving now the stick and now a carrot; both pathetically and absurdly beautiful. So the body. There's no living with it till we recognise that one of its functions in our lives is to play the part of buffoon. Until some theory has sophisticated them, every man, woman and child in the world knows this.... Lovers, unless their love is very short-lived, again and again feel an element not only of comedy, not only of play, but even of buffoonery, in the body's expression of Eros.... It would be too clumsy an instrument to render love's music unless its very clumsiness could be felt as adding to the total experience...with its own hearty rough-and-tumble what the soul enacts in statelier fashion....

"Indeed we require this relief.... Pleasure, pushed to its extreme, shatters us like pain.... Amourousness as well as grief can bring tears to the eyes. But Venus does not always come thus 'entire, fastened to her prey,' and the fact that she sometimes does so is the very reason for preserving always a hint of playfulness in our attitude to her.... This refusal to be quite immersedthis recollection of the levity even when, for the moment, only the gravity is displayed—is especially relevant to a certain attitude which Venus, in her intensity, evokes from most (I believe, not all) pairs of lovers. This act can invite the man to an extreme, though short-lived masterfulness, to the dominance of a conqueror...and the woman to a correspondingly extreme subjection and surrender. Hence the roughness, even fierceness, of some erotic play.... How should a sane couple think of this? or a Christian couple permit it?

Ritual, Not Reality
"I think it is harmless and wholesome on one condition. We must recognise that...in the act of love we are not merely ourselves. We are also representatives.... In us all the masculinity and femininity of the world, all that is assailant and responsive, are momentarily focused.... A woman who accepted as literally her own this extreme self-surrender would be an idolatress offering to a man what belongs only to God. And a man would have to be...a blasphemer if he arrogated to himself, as the mere person he is, the sort of sovereignty to which Venus for a moment exalts him. But what cannot lawfully be yielded or claimed can be lawfully enacted. Outside this ritual or drama he and she are two immortal souls, two free-born adults, two citizens....

"Some will think it strange I should find an element of ritual or masquerade in that action which is often regarded as the most real, the most unmasked and sheerly genuine, we ever do. Are we not our true selves when naked? In a sense, no. The word naked was originally a past participle; the naked man was the man who had undergone a process of naking, that is, of stripping or peeling (you used the verb of nuts and fruit).... The naked man has seemed to our ancestors not the natural but the abnormal man; not the man who has abstained from dressing but the man who has been for some reason undressed. And it is a simple fact...that nudity emphasizes common humanity and soft-pedals what is individual. In that way we are 'more ourselves' when clothed. By nudity the lovers cease to be solely John and Mary; the universal He and She are emphasized. You could almost say they put on nakedness as...the costume for a charade [that includes a paper crown].... Paper crowns have their legitimate, and (in the proper context) their serious, uses.... As nature crowns man in that brief action, so the Christian law has crowned him in the permanent relationship of marriage, bestowing—or should I say, inflicting?—a certain 'headship' on him. This is a very different coronation. And as we could easily take the natural mystery too seriously, so we might take the Christian mystery not seriously enough.
King Cophetua Woos the Beggar
 
"We must go back to our Bibles. The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church—read onand give his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). This headship, then is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion: whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the Church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; He does not find, but makes her, lovely.... As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that Bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labours to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is [like the legendary African] King Cophetua, who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl [he  married] will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears.

 
"To say this is not to say that there is any virtue or wisdom in making a marriage that involves such misery. There is no wisdom or virtue in seeking unnecessary martyrdom or deliberately courting persecution; yet it is, nonetheless, the persecuted or martyred Christian in whom the pattern of the Master is most unambiguously realised.... The sternest feminist need not grudge my sex the crown offered to it either...of paper [or] of thorns. The real danger is not that husbands may grasp [headship] too eagerly, but that they will allow or compel their wives to usurp it.

Eros Is Willing to Face a Bleak Future
"From Venus, the carnal ingredient within Eros, I now turn to Eros as a whole. Here we shall see the same pattern repeated. As Venus within Eros does not really aim at pleasure, so Eros does not aim at happiness.... Everyone knows that it is useless to try to separate lovers by proving to them that their marriage will be an unhappy one.... It is the very mark of Eros that when he is in us we had rather share unhappiness with the Beloved than be happy on any other terms. Even if the two lovers are mature and experienced people who know that broken hearts heal...and can clearly foresee that, if they once steeled themselves to go through the present agony of parting, they would almost certainly be happier...even then, they would not part.... When...marriage with the Beloved...cannot even profess to offer any other life than that of tending an incurable invalid [exactly the situation C.S. Lewis was in with his beloved wife], of hopeless poverty, of exile, or of disgrace—Eros never hesitates to say, 'Better this than parting.... Let our hearts break provided they break together.' If the voice within us does not say this, it is not the voice of Eros. This is the grandeur and terror of love.

"But notice, as before, side by side with this grandeur, the playfulness. Eros, as well as Venus, is the subject of countless jokes. And even when the circumstances of the two lovers are so tragic that no bystander could keep back his tears, they themselvesin want, in hospital wards, on visitors' days in jailwill sometimes be surprised by a merriment which strikes the onlooker (but not them) as unbearably pathetic.... Until they have a baby to laugh at, lovers are always laughing at each other.

"It is in the grandeur of Eros that the seeds of danger are concealed.... His total commitment, his reckless disregard of happiness, his transcendence of self-regard, sound like a message from the eternal world. And yet it cannot, just as it stands, be the voice of God Himself. For Eros...may urge to evil as well as to good.... The love which leads to cruel and perjured unions, even to suicide-pacts and murder, is not likely to be wandering lust or idle sentiment. It may well be Eros...heartbreakingly sincere, ready for every sacrifice except renunciation.... Eros may unite the most unsuitable yokefellows: many unhappy, and predictably unhappy, marriages were love-matches....

"We must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros when he speaks most like a god. Neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality. This love is really and truly like Love Himself.... His total commitment is a paradigm or example, built into our natures, of the love we ought to exercise towards God and Man.... It is as if Christ said to us through Eros, 'Thus—just like thiswith this prodigality—not counting the cost—you are to love Me and the least of My brethren.' Our conditional honour to Eros will of course vary.... Of some a total renunciation...is required. Others...can embark on the married life, within which Eros, of himself, will never be enough—will indeed survive only insofar as he is continually chastened and corroborated by higher principles.

"But Eros, honoured without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon.... Divinely indifferent to our selfishness, he is also demoniacally rebellious to every claim of God or Man that would oppose him. Hence as the poet says: 'People in love cannot be moved by kindness, and opposition makes them feel like martyrs.'... Years ago when I wrote about medieval love-poetry and described its strange, half make-believe, 'religion of love,' I was blind enough to treat this as an almost purely literary phenomenon. I know better now. Eros...always tends to turn 'being in love' into a sort of religion.

"Theologians have often feared, in this love, a danger of idolatry...that the lovers might idolize one another. That does not seem to me to be the real danger; certainly not in marriage. The deliciously plain...and businesslike intimacy of married life renders it absurd.... Even in courtship I question whether anyone who has felt the thirst for the Uncreated, or even dreamed of feeling it, ever supposed that the Beloved could satisfy it. As a fellow-pilgrim pierced with the very same desire...the Beloved may be gloriously and helpfully relevant; but as an object for it—well (I would not be rude), ridiculous. The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros...[as if] Eros extenuates—almost sanctions—almost sanctifies—any actions it leads to. When lovers say of some act that we might blame, 'Love made us do it,' notice the tone.... The confession can be almost a boast. There can be a shade of defiance in it.... What are really (by the Christian standard) temptations speak with the voice of dutiesquasi-religious duties, acts of pious zeal to love....

"All the time the grim joke is that this Eros whose voice seems to speak from the eternal realm...is notoriously the most mortal of our loves. The world rings with complaints of his fickleness. What is baffling is the combination of this fickleness with his protestations of permanency. To be in love is both to intend and to promise lifelong fidelity. Love makes vows unasked; can't be deterred from making them.... Not hypocritically but sincerely.... The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood...and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.... Eros is driven to promise what Eros of himself cannot perform.

"Can we be in this selfless liberation for a lifetime? Hardly for a week. Between the best possible lovers this high condition is intermittent. The old self soon turns out to be not so dead as he pretended—as after a religious conversion. In either he may be momentarily knocked flat; he will soon be up again; if not on his feet, at least on his elbow.... But these lapses will not destroy a marriage between two 'decent and sensible' people. The couple whose marriage will certainly be endangered by them, and possibly ruined, are those who...expected that mere feeling would do for them, and permanently, all that was necessary. When this expectation is disappointed they throw the blame on Eros or, more usually, on their partners. In reality, however, Eros, having made his gigantic promise and shown you in glimpses what its performance would be like, has 'done his stuff.'...It is we who must labour to bring our daily life into even closer accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. We must do the works of Eros when Eros is not present.

"This all good lovers know, though those who are not reflective or articulate will be able to express it only in a few conventional phrases about 'taking the rough along with the smooth,' not 'expecting too much,' having 'a little common sense,' and the like. And all good Christian lovers know that this programme, modest as it sounds, will not be carried out except by humility, charity and divine grace; that is indeed the whole Christian life seen from one particular angle."

Love Lasts When Swimming Follows Diving
C.S. Lewis ended his radio broadcast about romantic love with some vivid illustrations: "Love makes vows without being asked; 'I will be true' are the first words he ever utters. Now, appetites don't speak with that voice. The man who is moved to over eat or over drink doesn't at all necessarily resolve on lifelong gluttony or drunkenness. If anything he is far more likely to assure himself that this is the very last time he will indulge in either. He reaches out his hand for the decanter in order to fortify with one more glass his resolution to become a teetotaler!" Eros is like the amorous man with a new woman each time you see him, but firm in his belief that "this time it's the real thing" or like the intellectual faddist who thinks he has finally found the truth. "Both trust the passion, at a very early phase of it, to do for them what no passion can do. A passion can only move us, only supply incentive and energy. It is merely the dive that gets us into the water. Once in, swimmingnot diving'sthe thing. The faddist's delight in the discovery of what he thinks is truth is to be admired, not mocked. The trouble is, he expects the possession and use of truth to be exactly like the discovery. If after his dive he used his muscles and swam, his history would be quite different. The amorist similarly expects being in love to be exactly like falling in love. When the delicious falling is over, when the dive's got him into the water, he doesn't know how to go on. He has enjoyed the incentive of the passion; he never discovers what it is an incentive to so he presently climbs out and tries a dive in a different pond. For love by itself will not keep us in love, or not for very long. Falling in love is something that happens to us; being in lovestill more, remaining permanently in loveis something we do. No passion is self-preservative. The promise Eros makes can be kept but it isn't Eros that can keep it.... In clearer language, you need a firm will to justice. You need a will already pretty well trained and disciplined; in the long run you need the grace of God. And in this Eros is like all the natural loves: they have not within themselves resources to secure their own permanence or to keep themselves from internal corruptions, nor to be innocent in dealing with those outside the circle of love." Thus Lewis prepares anyone who has ever felt like an outsider to appreciate the unique benefits of divine love.

Divine Love

"William Morris wrote a poem called 'Love Is Enough' and someone is said to have reviewed it briefly in the words 'It isn't.' Such has been the [message] of this book. The natural loves are not self-sufficient. Something else, at first vaguely described as 'decency and common sense,' but later revealed as goodness, and finally as the whole Christian life in one particular relation, must come to the help of the mere feeling if the feeling is to be kept sweet.

"To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies. It is no disparagement to a garden to say that it will not...weed itself, nor prune its own fruit trees, nor...cut its own lawns.... It will remain a garden...only if someone does all these things to it [because]...it teams with life. It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward...beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined.... The gardener's contributions to that glory [seem]...in a sense paltry compared with those of nature.... When he has done all, he has merely encouraged here and discouraged there, powers and beauties that have a different source. But his share, though small, is indispensable and laborious.

"When God planted a garden He set a man over it and set the man under Himself. When He planted the garden of our nature and caused the flowering, fruiting loves to grow there, He set our will to 'dress' them.... Unless His grace comes down, like the rain and the sunshine, we shall use this tool to little purpose. But its laborious...services are indispensable. If they were needed when the garden was still Paradisal, how much more now when the soil has gone sour and the worst weeds seem to thrive on the best?... To liberate that splendour, to let it become fully what it is trying to be...is part of our purpose.

"But only part. For now we must face a topic that I have long postponed...our natural loves as rivals to the love of God.... This...is not the place at which most of us need begin.... For most...the true rivalry lies between the self and the human Other, not yet between the human Other and God. It is dangerous to press...the duty of getting beyond earthly love when [the] real difficulty lies in getting so far. And it is no doubt easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that it is happening because we are learning to love God more, when the real reason may be quite different." As C.S. Lewis explains further in the radio broadcast, "In my critique of the loves, I have stressed their rivalry to God less than their failure without God to be completely or remain securely the sorts of love they profess to be. And this, I hope, might make it easier for us to believe and not merely to acknowledge verbally that they are, after all, second things because to let us down while legitimately attracting us is the very characteristic of a second thing which has been treated as a first thing."

The Emperor Controls the Prince
"To have stressed the rivalry earlier," states Lewis in the book, "would have been premature in another way also. The claim to divinity which our loves so easily make can be refuted without going so far as that. The loves prove that they are unworthy to take the place of God by the fact that they cannot...do what they promise to do without God's help. Why prove that some petty princeling is not the lawful Emperor when without the Emperor's support he cannot even keep his subordinate throne and make peace in his little province for half a year?... When God rules in a human heart, though He may sometimes have to remove certain of its native authorities altogether, He often continues others in their offices and, by subjecting their authority to His, gives it for the first time a firm basis.... The rebellious slogan 'All for love' is really love's death warrant (date of execution, for the moment, left blank)....

Augustine's Heart Breaks
"If the Victorians needed the reminder that love is not enough, older theologians were always saying very loudly that (natural) love is likely to be a great deal too much. The danger of loving our fellow-creatures too little was less present to their minds than that of loving them idolatrously. In every wife, mother, child and friend they saw a possible rival to God. So of course does Our Lord (Luke 14:26). There is one method of dissuading us from inordinate love of the fellow-creature which I find myself forced to reject.... I do so with trembling, for it met me in the pages of a great saint and a great thinker to whom my own glad debts are incalculable. In words which can still bring tears to the eyes, St. Augustine describes the desolation in which the death of his friend Nebridius plunged him (Confessions 4:10). Then he draws a moral. This is what comes, he says, of giving one's heart to anything but God. Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose.... Of course this is excellent sense...and there is no man alive who responds more naturally than I to such canny maxims. I am a safety-first creature. Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as 'Careful! This might lead you to suffering.'

"To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. I doubt whether there is anything in me that pleases Him less. And who could conceivably begin to love God on such...ground—because the security...is better? Would you choose a wife or a friend [or] a dog in this spirit?... I think that this passage in the Confessions is less a part of St. Augustine's Christendom than a hangover from the high-minded Pagan philosophies in which he grew up.... [Christians] follow One who wept over Jerusalem and at the grave of Lazarus, and, loving all, yet had one disciple whom, in a special sense, He 'loved.'... There is no escape along the lines St. Augustine suggests. Nor along any other lines....

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. [Imagine facing and articulating that fact in the clearest terms possible when, like C.S. Lewis, your spouse has terminal cancer!] If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one.... Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket...it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

"I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God's will than a...self-protective lovelessness. It is like hiding the talent in a [field] and for much the same reason: "I knew thee that thou art a hard man" [Matthew 25:24]. Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become, even in the natural loves, more careful of our own happiness. If a man is not uncalculating towards the earthly beloveds whom he has seen, he is none the more likely to be so towards God whom he has not. We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour....

"It is probably impossible to love any human being simply 'too much.' We may love him too much in proportion to our love for God; but it is the smallness of our love for God, not the greatness of our love for the man, that constitutes the inordinancy.... The real question is, which...do you serve, or choose, or put first? To which claim does your will, in the last resort, yield? As so often, Our Lord's own words are both far fiercer and far more tolerable than those of the theologians. He says nothing about guarding against earthly loves for fear we might be hurt; He says something that cracks like a whip about trampling them all under foot the moment they hold us back from following Him. 'If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother and wife...and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple' (Luke 14:26).

"But how are we to understand the word hate?... I think Our Lord, in the sense here intended, 'hated' St. Peter when he said, 'Get thee behind Me.' To hate is to reject, to set one's face against, to make no concession to the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil. A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will 'hate' the one and 'love' the other.... He will adhere to, consent to, work for, the one and not for the other.... In the last resort, we must turn down...our nearest and dearest when they come between us and our obedience to God. Heaven knows, it will seem to them sufficiently like hatred. We must not act on the pity we feel; we must be blind to tears and deaf to pleadings.

"I will not say that this duty is hard; some find it too easy; some, hard almost beyond endurance. What is hard for all is to know when the occasion for such 'hating' has arisen. Our temperaments deceive us.... That is why it is of such extreme importance to so order our loves that it is unlikely to arrive at all.... We may see [this] on a far lower level when the Cavalier poet, going to [war], says to his [lady]: 'I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honour more.'... [Lovelace's lady] admits, as he does, the claims of Honour. He does not need to 'hate' her, to set his face against her, for he and she acknowledge the same law. They have agreed and understood each other on this matter long before.... It is this prior agreement which is so necessary when a far greater claim than that of Honour is at stake.... Indeed, a real disagreement on this issue should make itself felt early enough to prevent a marriage or a friendship from existing at all. The best love of either sort is not blind.... If 'All'quite seriously all'for love' is implicit in the Beloved's attitude, his or her love is not worth having. It is not related in the right way to Love Himself.

How to Scale the Heights of God's Love?
"And this brings me to the foot of the last steep ascent this book must try to make. We must try to relate the human...loves to that Love which is God.... 'God is love.... Herein is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us' (1 John 4:8, 10). We must not begin with mysticism, with the creature's love for God, but with God's love for the creatures." In the audio recording Lewis states eloquently, "Love itself, God's love, is utterly disassociated from need. It is manifested first in creation and then in redemption. The doctrine that God was under no necessity to create is not a bit of useless and abstract scholasticism. It is essential, for it reveals the nature of agape: that which in itself is complete, self-sufficient, eternally blessed, which has no wants to satisfy, creates what it doesn't need, creates because it desires to give, and gives seeing in the very moment of creation the necessity for the crucifixion. Insofar as we've become capable of that sort of love, agape is entering our lives."

However, the book warns, "no sooner do we believe that God loves us than there is an impulse to believe that He does so, not because He is Love, but because we are intrinsically lovable.... It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realise for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.... This pretense that we have anything of our own or could for one hour retain by our own strength any goodness that God may pour into us, has kept us from being happy. We have been like bathers who want to keep their feetor one footor one toeon the bottom, when to lose that foothold would be to surrender themselves to a glorious tumble in the surf. The consequences of parting with our last claim to intrinsic freedom, power, or worth, are real freedom, power and worth, really ours just because God gives them....
Some Things No One Can Like But...

"We all need at times, some of us at most times, that Charity from others which, being Love Himself in them, loves the unlovable. But this, though a sort of love we need, is not the sort we want. We want to be loved for our cleverness, beauty, generosity, fairness, usefulness. The first hint that anyone is offering us the highest love of all is a terrible shock." (In a separate chapter on this love in Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explains that Charity now means giving to the poor, but it originally had a much wider meaning. "You can see how it got the modern sense," says he: "If a man has 'charity,' giving to the poor is one of the most obvious things he does, and so people came to talk as if that were the whole of charity. In the same way, 'rhyme' is the most obvious thing about poetry, and so people come to mean by 'poetry' simply rhyme and nothing more.") We all need Charity in the highest sense because "there is something in each one of us that cannot be naturally loved. It is no one's fault if they do not so love it.... You might as well ask people to like the taste of rotten bread or the sound of a mechanical drill. We can be forgiven, and pitied, and loved in spite of it, with Charity; no other way. All who have good parents, wives, husbands, or children, may be sure that at some times...they are receiving Charity, are loved not because they are lovable but because Love Himself is in those who love them.

"Thus God, admitted to the human heart, transforms not only...our [love for] Him, but our [love for] one another. This is...not the only thing that can happen. He may come on what seems to us a more dreadful mission and demand that a natural love be totally renounced. A high and terrible vocation, like Abraham's, may constrain a man to turn his back on his own people and his father's house. Eros, directed to a forbidden object, may have to be sacrificed. In such instances, the process, though hard to endure, is easy to understand. What we are more likely to overlook is the necessity for a transformation even when the natural love is allowed to continue....

"The invitation to turn our natural loves into Charity is never lacking. It is provided by those frictions and frustrations that meet us in all of them; unmistakable evidence that (natural) love is not going to be 'enough.'... In everyone, and of course in ourselves, there is that which requires forbearance, tolerance, forgiveness. The necessity of practising these virtues sets us, forces us, upon the attempt to turn...our love into Charity. These frets and rubs are beneficial.... Where they are plentiful the necessity of rising above [them] is obvious.... The necessity for the conversion is inexorable; at least, if our natural loves are to enter the heavenly life.... Nothing can enter [heaven] which cannot become heavenly. 'Flesh and blood,' mere nature, cannot inherit that Kingdom [1 Corinthians 15:50].... Only those into which Love Himself has entered will ascend to Love Himself. And these can be raised with Him only if they have...shared His death: if [by faith] the natural element in them has submitted—year after year, or in some sudden agony—to transmutation.

"The fashion of this world passes away [1 Corinthians 7:31]. The very name of nature implies the transitory. Natural loves can hope for eternity only insofar as they have allowed themselves to be taken into the eternity of Charity; have at least allowed the process to begin here on earth.... The process will always involve a kind of death. There is no escape. In my love for wife or friend the only eternal element is the transforming presence of Love Himself. By that presence...the other elements may hope, as our physical bodies hope, to be raised from the dead. For this only is holy in them, this only is the Lord.... All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.

"But...I dare not...leave any...reader...confirmed in the widespread illusion that reunion with the loved dead is the goal of the Christian life.... 'Thou has made us for Thyself,' said St. Augustine, 'and our heart has no rest till it come to Thee.'... Believing first in reunion with the Beloved, and then, for the sake of that reunion, believing in Heaven, and finally, for the sake of Heaven, believing in God—this will not work.... A self-critical person will soon be increasingly aware...he is only weaving a fantasy.... We were made for God. Only by being in some respect like Him... a manifestation of His beauty, lovingkindness, wisdom, or goodness, has any earthly Beloved excited our love. It is not that we have loved them too much, but that we did not quite understand what we were loving. It is not that we shall be asked to turn from them, so dearly familiar, to a Stranger. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His. In Heaven there will be no anguish and no duty of turning away from our earthly Beloveds. First, because we shall have turned already; from the portraits to the Original, from the rivulets to the Fountain, from the creatures He made lovable to Love Himself. But second, because we shall find them all in Him. By loving Him more than them we shall love them more than we do now.

"But all that is far away in 'the land of the Trinity,' not here in exile, in the weeping valley.... The very purpose of... bereavement ...may have been to force this upon us. We are then compelled to try to believe, what we cannot yet feel, that God is our true Beloved." The radio broadcast concludes, "Such I conceive as the world of agape: a world of unbounded giving and unashamed receiving, where all blessed creatures need and know that they need nothing but God and are therefore set free to love one another disinterestedly. And so your love shall be like His, born neither of my need nor your deserving but of plain bounty. I think those are drawing near to heaven who in this life find that they need men less and love men more and delight more in being loved without being needed.... All this time I've taken the love of God to mean solely God's love for man. St. John led me into it; I still think it's the safe and sober approach, but is there no more than this? Isn't the First Commandment to love God? Yes...there is indeed a way of loving God which is easy to none but possible to all: 'Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these, My brethren, ye did it to Me' [Matthew 25:40]. We can see the face of Christ in every man and act accordingly. And there is also the love expressed solely in obedience. There is love for the humanity of our Lord, for the Holy Child or the Sufferer. There is also the unsatisfied love thirst or longing for God. But of what is beyond all these, what is neither love of God in man, nor in obedience, nor love of the man in God, nor love longingof fruition in this life and foretaste of Beatitude [Beatific vision of God]—I'm not the man to speak. Even if I heard rumors or made guesses, I couldn't put them into this form; I'd need myths and symbols [which, in a sense, he already used in The Last Battle, the last Narnia chronicle, when describing Aslan's Country or Heaven]. All that can be said here is that even on those high levels, though something goes from man to God, yet allincluding this somethingcomes from God to man. If he rises, he does so lifted on a wave of the incoming tide of God's love for him."

Remember to check here for more nuggets: Additional Gems from C.S. Lewis's Audio Recordings of The Four Loves
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