CS Lewis: The Four Loves – Quotes

Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter Theological Themes: Human Condition, Incarnation, Christian life/living, Love and Hate, Idolatry

“I still think that if all we mean by our love is a craving to be loved, we are in a very deplorable state. But I would not now say (with my master, MacDonald) that if we mean only this craving we are mistaking for love something that is not love at all. I cannot now deny the name love to Need-love”

Theological Theme(s): Human Condition

“Hence, as a better writer has said, our imitation of God in this life—that is, our willed imitation as distinct from any of the likenesses which He has impressed upon our natures or states—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. For this, so strangely unlike anything we
can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions.”

Theological Theme(s): Incarnation, Christian living/life

“We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons. Then they will destroy us, and also destroy themselves. For natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves. They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred.”

Theological Theme(s): Love and Hate, Idolatry

Chapter II: Likings and Loves for the Sub-human

Chapter Theological Themes: Christian life/living, Loves, Finiteness and Eternity, Revelation, Idolatry, Patriotism, Ethics, Justice

“Our Need-love for God is in a different position because our need of Him can never end either in this world or in any other. But our awareness of it can, and then the Need-love dies too.”

Theological Theme(s): Christian living/life

“Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative-love says: “We give thanks to thee for they great glory.””

Theological Theme(s): Types of love

“And perhaps that is because nothing about us except our neediness is, in this life, permanent.”

Theological Theme(s): Finiteness and Eternity

“Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one.”

Theological Theme(s): Revelation

“Nature will not verify any theological or metaphysical proposition (or not in the manner we are now considering); she will help to show what it means.”

Theological Theme(s): Revelation

“When the natural love become lawless they do not merely do harm to other loves; they themselves cease to be the loves they were—to be loves at all.”

Theological Theme(s): Idolatry

“Where the sentiment of patriotism has been destroyed this can be done only by presenting every international conflict in a purely ethical light. If people will spend neither sweat nor blood for “their country” they must be made to feel that they are spending them for justice, or civilization, or humanity. This is a step down, not up. Patriotic sentiment did not of course need to disregard ethics.”

Theological Theme(s): Patriotism, Ethics, Justice

“A false transcendence is given to things which are very much of this world.”

Theological Theme(s): Finiteness and Eternity

Chapter III: Affection

Chapter Theological Themes: Human condition, Providence, Grace

“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, and only these, on occasions where the specifically human was demanded.”

Theological Theme(s): Human Condition

“By having a great many friends I do not prove that I have a wide appreciation of human excellence. You might as well say I prove the width of my literary taste by being able to enjoy all the books in my own study. The  answer is the same in both cases—“You chose those books. You chose those friends. Of course they suit you.” The truly wide taste in reading is that which enables a man to find something for his needs on the sixpenny tray outside any secondhand bookshop. The truly wide taste in humanity will similarly 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.” Made for
us? Thank God, no. They are themselves, odder than you could have believed and worth far more than we guessed.”

Theological Theme(s): Human Condition, Providence

“It is as if, on a far higher plane, we argued that because no man by merit has a right to the Grace of God, I, having no merit, am entitled to it. There is no question of rights in either case.”

Theological Theme(s): Grace, Human Condition

Chapter IV: Friendship

Chapter Theological Themes: Human Condition, Community, Sexuality, Friendship, Post-modernism, Joy, Authenticity, Outreach, Openness, Christian life/living, Free Will, Honor, Humility, Pride, Providence, Diversity

“Again, that outlook which values the collective above the individual necessarily disparages Friendship; it is a relation between men at their highest level of individuality. It withdraws men from collective “togetherness” as surely as solitude itself could do; and more dangerously, for it withdraws them by two’s and three’s.”

Theological Theme(s): Human Condition, Community

“It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual. The dangerous world really is here important. To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly
homosexual would be too obviously false; the wiseacres take refuge in the less palpable charge that it is really—unconsciously, cryptically, in some Pickwickian sense—homosexual.”

Theological Theme(s): Sexuality and Friendship

“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair.”

Theological Theme(s): Community

“On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step.”

Theological Theme(s): Post-modernism, Community

“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.””

Theological Theme(s): Joy, Community

“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. It was a distraction, an anomaly. It was a horrible waste of time, always too short, that we had together. Perhaps we had only a couple of hours in which to talk and, God bless us, twenty minutes of it has had to be devoted to affairs!”

Theological Theme(s): Authenticity, Outreach, Openness

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Theological Theme(s): Joy

“But the dangers are perfectly real. Friendship (as the ancients saw) can be a school of virtue; but also (as they did not see) a school of vice. It is ambivalent. It makes good men better and bad men worse.”

Theological Theme(s): Christian life/living, Free Will

“I said above 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.”

Theological Theme(s): Honor, Humility, Christian life/living

“The danger of such pride is indeed almost inseparable from Friendly love. Friendship must exclude.”

Theological Theme(s): Pride and Humility, Community, Free Will

“Friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates 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 meeting—any 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.”

Theological Theme(s): Providence and Free Will

“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 a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them.”

Theological Theme(s): Diversity, Human Condition, Community

Chapter V: Eros

Chapter Theological Themes: Soul, Desire, Need, Body, Mind Spirit Integration, Human Condition, Community, Idolatry, Marriage, Husband and Wife, Sacrificial Love, Christian life/living

“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.”

Theological Theme(s): Soul, Desire and Need

“For I can hardly help regarding it as one of God’s jokes that a passion so soaring, so apparently transcendent, as Eros, should be thus 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. In Eros at times we seem to be flying; Venus give us the sudden twitch that reminds us we are really captive balloons.”

Theological Theme(s): Body, Mind and Spirit Integration, Human Condition

“Christian writers (notably Milton) have sometimes spoken of the husband’s headship with a complacency to make the blood run cold. 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 on—and give his life for her
(Eph. V, 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.”

Theological Theme(s): Marriage, Husband and Wife, Sacrificial Love, Christian life/living

“Eros never hesitates to say, “Better this than parting. Better to be miserable with her than happy without her. Let our hearts break provided they break together.” If the voice within us does not say this, it is not the voice of Eros.”

Theological Theme(s): Community, Human Condition

“The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros himself.”

Theological Theme(s): Idolatry

Chapter VI: Charity

Chapter Theological Themes: Faith, Trust, Surrender, Christian life/living, Heaven and Hell, Idolatry, Suffering, Salvation, Imminence, Spiritual Growth, Imago Dei, God as Creator, God as Faithful

“This is what comes, he says, of giving one’s heart to anything but God. All human beings pass away. Do not let your happiness depend on something you may lose. If love is to be a blessing, not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away. Of course this is excellent sense. Don’t put your goods in a leaky vessel. Don’t spend too much on a house you may be turned out of. 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… Even if it were granted that insurances against heartbreak were our highest wisdom, does God Himself offer them? Apparently not. Christ comes at last to say, “Why hast thou forsaken me.?””

Theological Theme(s): Faith, Trust, Surrender, Christian life/living

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. 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—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbation of love is Hell.”

Theological Theme(s): Surrender, Faith, Christian life/living, Heaven and Hell

“But the question whether we are loving God or the earthly Beloved “more” is not, so far as concerns our Christian duty, a question about the comparative intensity of two feelings. The real question is, which (when the alternative comes) do you serve, or choose, or put first? To which claim does your will, in the last resort, yield?”

Theological Theme(s): Idolatry, Faith, Christian life/living

“But Divine Gift-love in the man enables him to love what is not naturally lovable; lepers, criminals, enemies, morons, the sulky, the superior and the sneering.”

Theological Theme(s): Christian life/living, Suffering

“There is of course a sense in which no one can give to God anything which is not already His; and if it is already His what have you given? But since it is only too obvious that we can withhold ourselves, our wills and hearts, from God, we can, in that sense, also give them. What is His by right and would not exist for a moment if it ceased to be His (as the song is the singer’s), He has nevertheless made ours in such a way that we can freely offer it back to Him. “Our wills are ours to make them Thine.””

Theological Theme(s): Salvation, Christian life/living, Imminence

“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”—unmistakable, unless we are blinded by egotism.”

Theological Theme(s): Spiritual growth, Christian life/living

“In Heaven I suspect, a love that had never embodies Love Himself would be equally irrelevant. For Nature has passed away. All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”

Theological Theme(s): Finiteness and Eternity, Heaven and Hell

“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.”

Theological Theme(s): Imminence, Imago Dei, God as Creator

“But all that is far away in “the land of the Trinity,” not here in exile, in the weeping valley. Down here is all loss and renunciation. The very purpose of the bereavement (so far as it affects ourselves) may have been to force this upon us. We are them compelled to try to believe, what we cannot yet feel, that God is our true Beloved.

Theological Theme(s): Suffering, Faith, God as Faithful