How C.S. Lewis Changed My Perspective on Love

{By Taylor Turner}

Love.

One simple word, yet, with so much gravity to our souls and permeating ramifications in our world.

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Culturally, we dilute its weight and narrow its definition and thus lose much of its beauty and true meaning. This devalued love bleeds into all of life. But let us be honest: that is our default. Naturally, we idolize and conversely demonize a multitude of things in life – we idolize money and thus demonize not having money or we idolize sex and thus demonize singleness. The solution to this, though, is not balance.

We should never strive to balance idolization with demonization of other things in life.

What a shallow goal. What is the goal? And what is the fullness of this simple word “love”?

In a most precious exposé, “The Four Loves,” Lewis pleads for a holistic, realistic, and rekindled view of love. Our culture functionally, knowingly or unknowingly, views love as simply a feeling and more specifically a feeling usually in conjunction with sex. However, lives are sparsely soaked with the depths of genuine love.

It is as though we sit in Plato’s cave with the candle’s illumination on the wall never to turn around and see the source of light but only to cover our eyes and have our pupils blessed with a mere glimmer of light. The goal is then to grow in Christ-likeness to see not the light only but the source of all light for who He truly is.

Lewis explains this much fuller sense of love in four categories: affection, friendship, Eros, and charity. And rather than bore you with random, intellectual commentary about a book, I want to share some quotations from this book that helped me see commonplace ideas in new ways.

“There is indeed a peculiar charm, both in friendship and in Eros, about those moments when appreciative love lies, as it were, curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship (free as solitude, yet neither is alone) wraps us around. No need to talk. No need to make love. No needs at all except perhaps to stir the fire.”

“If affection is made the absolute sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon.”

“The ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs. It will do this all the more ruthlessly because it thinks (in one sense truly) that it is a Gift-love and therefore regards itself as “unselfish.””

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“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all [their] facets.””

“Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities.”

“We may love [another] 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 inordinacy.”

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This being my second time through “The Four Loves,” I am struck anew with the fact that I have so much to learn and experience in life – this realization only grows with time.

I encourage you to add this book to your library so that you too can soak in Lewis’s admonitions and musings on life and love – this is a practical, pensive compilation of Lewis’s own life experiences.

Lewis admonishes the reader to cultivate, according to St. Augustine, a life of right-ordered loves: Christ, Christians, then Creation.

Godspeed!

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