The Four Loves

I finally finished another book…The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.  It’s not that long, I just don’t make time to read often enough…

First off, C.S. Lewis is amazing.  If you haven’t read anything by him (most likely would be the Chronicles of Narnia), you probably should.  That said, I find him difficult to read because the language is a little outdated (or maybe just British, I wouldn’t know 🙂 ), and he writes at a pretty high level.

So, I can’t do him very much justice.  Therefore, I will just do a tiny bit of summary, and you should read this book. 🙂

In this book, C.S. Lewis breaks love down into “Need-love” vs. “Gift-love”, and then divides the “natural loves” into categories; Affection, Friendship, and Eros.  Each category can be expressed in both Need-love and Gift-love.  He talks about the best versions of each of these loves, and the perversions.  I will only summarize his distinctions between the loves.  Affection is basically a love caused by familiarity and nearness; common examples are the love you have for your family members, or the love you have for a pet.  Friendship is what you think it is, but C.S. Lewis states that it arises from people having common interests and sharing those things together.  Eros is romantic love, and happens for no good reason, but it happens nonetheless.  You can, of course, feel more than one of the loves for the same person.

The fourth love is Charity, which he states is not a human love but a Divine love, because it doesn’t come naturally to us.  However, it is what holds the other loves together.  C.S. Lewis notes that we tend to make Love into a god, and can do terrible things for the sake of “love”.  The easiest example is Eros, because we generally make that love into a god more often than the others.  We will sacrifice anything for Eros.  So, if we are with someone who we once felt Eros for, but currently do not feel it, but we find someone else who we feel Eros for at the time, we have a tendency to say “But I’m in love!” and leave the first for the second.  In this instance, Charity would be what would make us still love the first even when they seem unlovable, and stay with them.  That is what Charity is, loving someone even when they do not deserve to be loved, which is why it is a Divine love.

I can’t really go into any more detail, because I would go into way too much detail, so you should just read it for yourself.  But one thing I do want to include is an excerpt from the chapter on Eros (as that is what this blog is about), for contemplation and/or discussion.  C.S. Lewis is discussing Eros vs. Venus, which he is calling sex, and how they are connected.  I find it interesting and, as he is addressing how men feel specifically, I am wondering if it is true, because my impression was that it was not.  But maybe partially at least…?

To the evolutionist Eros (the human variation) will be something that grows out of Venus, a late complication and development of the immemorial biological impulse. We must not assume, however, that this is necessarily what happens within the consciousness of the individual.  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.”  But I doubt if this is at all common.  Very often what comes first is simply a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved – a general, unspecified pre-occupation 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.  He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned.  If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, “To go on thinking of her.”  He is love’s contemplative.  And when at a later stage the explicitly sexual element awakes, he will not feel (unless scientific theories are influencing him) that this has all along been the root of the whole matter.  He is more likely to feel that the incoming tide of Eros, having demolished many sand-castles and made islands of many rocks, has now at last with a triumphant seventh wave flooded this part of his nature also – the little pool of ordinary sexuality which was there on his beach before the tide came in.  Eros enters him like an invader, taking over and reorganising, one by one, the institutions of a conquered county.  It may have taken over many others before it reaches the sex in him; and it will reorganise that too.


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