MARRIAGE AND LOVE

This essay owes much to C.S. Lewis who, although married later in life, had a lot to say about marriage. He also had a lot to say about sex and chastity.


Lewis’s first analogy about sexual pleasure is that, like eating, there is nothing wrong with it. But “you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.” Lewis says that we cannot go on promising to feel in love in a certain way any more than we can promise not to have a headache. However, “love is the great conqueror of lust” and is far better than common sensuality. We are “living in a world of new thrills all the time,” but we will get weaker, and they will become fewer if we “try to prolong them artificially.” Today we are seeing the weakening of love in our society and the worshipping of sex.


An example of the wide influence Lewis had in his comments on marriage can be found in a book published by the Mormons: In The Restored Gospel According to C.S. Lewis, (Chapter 14) by Nathan Jensen (Bonneville Books, 1998), Jensen writes that “C.S. Lewis has wise counsel and perspectives on the delicate are of marriage. His wisdom is worth considering, even though it runs counter to the prevailing portrayals of love in the media and elsewhere. He understood that sacrifice is just as essential for a long-term marriage as romance. Is it any coincidence that couples are married at an altar—the age-old symbol of sacrifice?” Lewis suggested that lovers are always laughing at each other “until they have a baby to laugh at.”


Kevin Livermore (The Theology of C.S. Lewis. Costa Mesa, CA, 2014) examined love, marriage, and fidelity from a theological perspective. He noted the main perspective that Lewis brings to marriage is that it is God’s design to form a man and a woman into one organism. Because of this, there is pain that can end a marriage for any reason, and it is like “having your legs cut off.” Furthermore, it is a monstrosity when intercourse occurs outside of marriage.


Lewis also speaks of the dimensions of love in his book The Four Loves. The ‘loves’ Lewis describes are:

1) Affection, “the humblest and most widely diffused of love, the love in which our experience seems to differ least from that of the animals…. The Greeks called this love storge… ‘affection, especially of parents to offspring.’” “Affection would not be affection if it was loudly and frequently expressed; to produce it in public is like getting your household furniture out for a move.” Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease, of the unguarded moment, of liberties which would be ill-bred if we took them with strangers….”;

2) Friendship “seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides the wife and family a man needs a few ‘friends….” Lewis notes that it arises when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste that the others do not share;

3) Eros—“By Eros I mean of course that state which we call ‘being in love.’” Eros is like the other loves, but more striking because of its “strength, sweetness, terror, and high port”;

4) Charity. “Hitherto hardly anything has been said in this book about our natural loves as rivals to the love of God.” St. Augustine describes the desolation in which the death of his friend Nbridius plunged him This is what comes, Lewis says, of giving one’s heart to anything but God. All human beings pass away so we should not let our happiness depend on something we may lose. “If love is to be a blessing and not a misery, it must be for the only Beloved who will never pass away”; Lewis says that we are all receiving Charity and yet there is something in each of us that “cannot be naturally loved.” It is an experience that outlines “the shape of that gap where our love of God ought to be.”


It should be obvious that in a Christian marriage love is intertwined to such an extent that the two cannot be reasonably separated. However, our American culture has torn them apart to such an extent that divorced couples will claim that they still love one another. Statistics show that 50% of marriages end in divorce, including that of Christians.


Symbolically and as a bridal paradigm doctrine, Christ is married to the church, his bride. However, in many cases, the Church today seems to be unenlightened and defeated. Because it does not see Christ as the Bridegroom, there is no love, and it cannot be “intimate” with Him—it has divorced Him.



Karl Franklin