Titlul original: The Four Loves
Autor: C.S. Lewis
Localitate: New York
Editura: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Anul apariţiei: 1991
Nr. de pagini: 156
Articol de Valentin Teodorescu
C.S.Lewis starts The Four Loves confessing that when he first tried to write this book, he had a wrong image (or rather a very simplistic image) of the subject.
It seems that the-view he had then is common among Christians; before I read his book I had the same image too: the idea that the only true love is the love that gives, because the love of God is a Giving love (a Gift-love by definition). For that reason – in that perspective – we really love just in so far as our love resembles that Love which is God. In that respect, when we tell to our beloved: „I need you, I cannot live without you”, we do not really love him (or her). The real love is that love which says: I do not need you, I can live without you; in fact, exactly because I can live without you, and I am a complete person, perfectly fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can enter in a love relations hip. The goal in that relationship will be not to find my fulfillment, not to receive something (I am already fulfilled by God), but to give, to make the other happy.
This image is not bad (in fact the final arguments of C.S.Lewis are very close to these ideas), but it is not perfectly good because it is not complete. The reality of love is more complex – says Lewis. It is difficult, in his opinion to affirm that the Need-Love is not a real love, firstly because our love for God is – more than everything – a Need-Love. We come to God utterly aware that our whole being is one vast need, crying out for Him when we need forgiveness or support in our tribulations, or many other things. On the other side, even in our daily situations, it is difficult, for example, to affirm that a child’s love for his mother, which is more than anything else a Need-love, is not a real love.
Thus, understanding the complexity of the situation, Lewis begins to analyze more deeply five kinds of loves: Loves for Sub-Human, Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity (Agape). In this essay, my interest will be especially focused on the last two kinds of love, Eros and Charity. But I will present also shortly the first three kinds of love, in the measure in which to understand them is absolutely necessary for a better comprehension of the last two loves.
As we will see, Charity (Agape) still remains the most important love; but the other four loves will be also accepted as true loves. In that way God’s Creation (in the area of affections) will be honored and redeemed.
1) Loves for the Sub-Human
Describing the Loves for Sub-Human, Lewis begins with a distinction between two Kinds of Sub-Human Loves. (The Sub-Human love is not the love for humans or even for animals, but the love for things; for that reason we may call them rather pleasures than loves. But in any case, they resemble very much the human loves). These types of Sub-Human loves are the Need-pleasures and the Pleasures of Appreciation.
An example of the first would be a drink of water. That is a pleasure when we are thirsty. But usually no one would drink a glass of water just for the fun of the thing. And in generally, as soon as we drink the water, this need-pleasure will disappear.
An example of the second would be the unsought and unexpected pleasures of smell – for example the breath from a garden with roses: We were in want of nothing, completely contented before it – the pleasure is an unsolicited, super-added gift.
When Need-pleasures are in question, we tend to make statements about ourselves in the past tense: „I wanted that”. When Appreciative pleasures are in question, we tend to make statements about the object in the present tense „How lovely the smell is„.
The Need-pleasures – although not despised once we have had them – they certainly „die on us” with extraordinary abruptness, and completely. In the same way Need-loves, like the Need-pleasure, will not last longer than the need.
The Pleasures of Appreciation are very different. They make us feel that something has not merely gratified our senses, but claimed our appreciation by right: the rose deserves our full attention (the object of our interest itself is important); in drinking the water only our sensation matters (our thirst was satisfied), not the water itself. There is in the Appreciation’s pleasures (and in their correlate love), even from the beginning, an invitation to disinterestedness. (Even if I like the rose, that does not mean that I want to posses it too).
Lewis shows us in a relevant example how these two loves function (and in addition to these loves, a third one, the Gift-love):
„Need-love says of a woman ‘I cannot live without her’. Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort and protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist, even if not for him”.
After discussing the nature of the Sub-Human loves – from a necessity to define some important terms which will be used in the following chapters of his book –, Lewis starts to present the four loves for the human: Affection (storge), Friendship (philios), Being in love (eros), and Charity (agape).
Affection is the humblest and the least discriminating love. It is manifested as a warm comfort of being with those people (or pets) who are familiar, even if they are very different from oneself. Affection teaches us to appreciate people whom we would not have chosen. For example we may say that we have chosen our friends and the woman we love for their various excellences: goodness, frankness, beauty, intelligence or wit. But it had to be a particular kind of wit or of beauty or of goodness.
The special glory of affection is that it can unite people who, if they had not found themselves put down by fate in the same community, would have had nothing to do with each other.
The interesting fact about this love is that it has a somehow paradoxical definition: it is a Gift-love, but in the same time a Gift-love who needs to be needed.
An evident example in that sense i s the love of a mother for her children: she gives birth, gives suck, gives protection; in that respect she has a Gift-love. In the same time, sometimes she must give birth or die, or to give suck or die. And generally, a mother „needs to give” not only in the human world, but wherever in the living world (the animal world). In that respect her love toward her children is a Need-love too.
However, the Affections are not enough in themselves. Because they are in a sense Need-loves, they can be easily distorted.
For example, we feed our children in order that they may feed themselves; we teach them in order that they may not need our teaching. The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in the state where he no longer needs our gift. Thus, the heavy task laid – upon Gift love in Affection is that it must work towards its own abdication. The instinct of Affection is to desire the good of its object, but only the good it can itself give.
For that reason a higher love is necessary – a love, which desires the good of its object, from whatever source that good comes. Otherwise the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs. Exactly this kind of distortion we can see in the mother of Michael, (in The Great Divorce), whose love for her child became obsessive and idolatrous, being „ready to have rather her brat in hell with her than to know him happy in Heaven but without her”.
The same distortion of the Affection-love we can see in Till We Have Faces where Orual loves her sister Psyche with an Affection-love which she realizes only at the end that was selfish. This egoism can be shown by the fact that, in a subtle way, she is ready to rather separate her sister from the divine love – and in fact from Joy – than to lose the possibility of being with her and expressing toward her her own affection.
Lewis describes the friendship love as being the least natural, the least biologically necessary from the loves .
Friends are absorbed not in each other like lovers, but in a mutual interest. Friendship is the least jealous of loves, because its circle is not restricted to two; each new friend adds to the pleasure of all.  The very condition of having friends is that we should want something else besides friends: Where the answer to the question „Do you see the same 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, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing.
An interesting thing about Friendship is the fact that when two people who discover that they are on the same road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass into erotic love. 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 lovers.
Another interesting difference between Eros and friendship is that if Eros wants naked bodies, Friendship wants naked personalities. A real friend ship presupposes mutual openness. One of the great problems in the marriage of Jane and Mark Studdock (That Hideous Strength) is the fact that they stopped to be open to each other, to be friends; each one tries to have his own separate life.
Like all loves (except Charity), friendship can be distorted; the shared interest itself may be dangerous or evil, or the interest may turn to a collective arrogance and isolation if the group takes pleasure in the exclusion of others, becoming an inner ring. That Hideous Strength provides a good example of what can be a good friendship (the group from St. Anne), and what can be a distorted and demonic friendship (the group from Belbury), when the shared interest of a group i s good or on the contrary, is evil.
4.1 Definition and clarifications; Eros and Venus
Lewis means by Eros that state which is called „being in love”.
It is important to understand that he makes here a distinction between Eros and what we usually mean by eroticism. Eroticism or Sexuality (which Lewis calls Venus) is not equivalent with Eros.
The sexual experience (Venus) can occur without Eros (being in love). In fact the history shows that the times and the places in which the marriage depended on Eros were as mall minority. In the same time, Eros includes many other things besides sexual activity. In fact, very often in the beginning Eros is simply a delighted preoccupation with the Beloved – a general preoccupation with her in totality. A man in this state really has not 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. When at a later stage the explicitly sexual element awakes, he will not feel that this had all along been the root of the whole matter.
The difference between Venus and Eros is that Venus, the sexual desire, wants the thing in itself; Eros wants the Beloved. Without Eros sexual desire, like every other desire, is a fact about ourselves. Within Eros it is rather about the Beloved. It becomes almost a mode of expression, a metaphor.
As we saw in the discussion about the loves for Sub-Human, in our love for another person (Eros) we meet all three types of love: the Need-love, the Gift-love and the Appreciative love.
What Eros is doing is to transform a Need-pleasure in the most Appreciative of all pleasures. The nature of a Need-pleasure is to show us the object solely in relation to our need. But 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.
Thus, Eros transforms a Need-love into an Appreciative love. And if Eros becomes in that way an Appreciative love, it is easy to understand why it naturally becomes also a Gift-love: when we really appreciate somebody it is easy to understand why we are so willing to offer him (or her) the best we have. In that respect Lewis’ idea that „Eros obliterates the distinction between giving and receiving” becomes clear. It is natural both to desire and to be willing to offer when we admire someone.
4.2 The danger in Venus; the spiritual significance of Venus
Lewis considers that the greatest danger in Venus is that of taking it too serious; or in any case, with a wrong kind of seriousness. He felt that in his times people used to take Venus with a „ludicrous and portentous solemnization”.
On the contrary, in his opinion nothing is more needed in that respect than a roar of old-fashioned laughter. The motive is that „if we banish play and laughter from the bed of love, we may transform Venus in a false goddess”. That happens because Venus is a „mocking, mischievous spirit, who makes game of us”. When all external circumstances are fittest for her service, she will leave one or both lovers totally indisposed to it. Those who took her too serious will then be terribly frustrated; Those who deified her will have a lot of resentments, self-pities, suspicions and wounded vanities.
But sensible lovers laugh; they know that this is all part of the game.
It seems that is one of God’s jokes that a passion so apparently transcendent as Eros should be linked in incongruous symbiosis with a bodily appetite which, like any other appetites, „reveals its connections with such mundane factors as weather, health, diet, circulation an digestion. That is a continual demonstration of the truth that we are composite creatures: ‘rational animals’, akin on the one side to angels, on the other to tom-cats.”
But Lewis considers also that there is a spiritual signification behind Venus that is very serious. In the very 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. The man ” does play the Sky-Father and the woman the Earth-Mother; he does play the Form, and she Matter”.
However, one should give full value to the word „play”. A woman, who accepted as literally her own her extreme surrender in Venus, would be an idolatress, offering to a man what belongs only to God. And a man would be a blasphemer if he arrogated to himself the sort of sovereignty to which Venus for a moment exalts him.
But in any case, these observations send us- in Lewis’ opinion – to the Christian mystery of marriage. Here we arrive to the well-known ideas from Ephesians that the husband is the head of his wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church.
In That Hideous Strength, one ofthe greatest problems that Jane Studdock should solve when she enters under the authority of God (Maledil), is to accept to be submissive to her husband- even if he does not deserve in fact her submission. On the other side Mark, her husband, reali zes – after he escapes the demonic power of N.I.C.E. – that he neglected his wife, that he took for granted as his own possession, „a beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear”. In other words he experiences „the humility of the lover”, discovering that he loved Jane at that moment but also that he no more deserves her love and patience. In that respect Lewis agrees here with Paul’s advises to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5.
However, this position does not necessary excludes the point of view which sees these commandments given to husbands and wives in the context of the calling to reciprocal submission (Eph 5:21).
Craig Keener observes that Christ’s love is explicitly defined in this Pauline passage not in terms of His authority but in terms of His self-sacrificial service (Eph 5:25-27). Paul calls the husband to serve her wife as Christ served the Church. In fact, Lewis observes that: „the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the Church – and give his life to her” (his underlining). His comment on this verse is that „the husband’s headship then is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be – in the context of a good marriage –, but in him whose marriage is the worst marriage possible, a marriage seen most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him”. „For the church has no beauty but what the Bridegroom gives her; He does not find, but makes her lovely.”
4.3 The danger in Eros; Eros as a means of’Approach
The danger in Eros has for Lewis a certain similarity with the danger in Venus: to take it too serious. Eros tends sometimes to an obsessive preoccupation with the Beloved which can be an obstacle to the spiritual life.
In fact- as Lewis will explain later, when he will discuss about Charity – the danger will be not necessarily the fact that we love the other too much; rather that we tend to love him idolatrously. That means that we may love him too much in proportion to our love to God; but – as Lewis explains – it is the smallness of our love to God, not the greatness of our love for man, that constitutes the inordinacy.
„There is grandeur and terror in Eros”. An example is very relevant in that respect. Everyone knows that it is useless to try to separate lovers by proving them that their marriage will be an unhappy one. This is not because they will disbelieve that. Even if they believed, they would not be dissuaded. For it is the mark of Eros that when he is in us we had rather share unhappiness with the beloved than be happy on other terms. Eros never hesitates to say in situations like this „Better be miserable with her than happy without her. Let our hearts break provided they will break together.” If the voice within us does not say this, it is not the voice of Eros.
It is in this grandeur and beauty of Eros that the seeds of danger are concealed. He has spoken like a God. His total commitment, his reckless disregard of happiness sound like a message from heaven.
And yet it cannot, just as it stands, be the voice of God Himself. For Eros, speaking with that very grandeur and displaying that very transcendence of self, may urge to evil as well as to good. The love which leads to cruel and perjured unions, even to suicide-pacts and murder, may be Eros in all hi s splendor; ready for every sacrifice except renunciation. For that reason, says Lewis, we must not give unconditional obedience to the voice of Eros when he speaks most like a God.
But neither must we ignore or attempt to deny the god-like quality. This love is really and truly like Love Himself. In it there is a real nearness to God (by Resemblance); but not, therefore and necessarily, a „nearness of Approach”. However, Eros may become in us even a means of Approach. His total commitment is a paradigm or example – built in our natures – of the love we ought to exercise towards God and Man. In that way, Eros gives content to the word Charity (agape). It is as if Christ said to us through Eros: „Thus, just like this, not counting the cost, you are to love me and the least of my brethren.”
It is very relevant in that sense the signification of the personage Psyche in Till He Have Faces. Beyond the fact that she is a Christ-like figure in the novel, she also represents „the perfect humanity”: by her total love and obedience toward her lover, Eros, and by her longing for the eternal realm „where beauty, truth and love are not corrupted as they are on earth” The typological analogy between Eros-love and Charity-love, and the idea of Eros as a means of approach are even more clear when we understand that in the novel the god Eros is only a metaphor for God.
In any case, some people – with Eros as their fuel – will enter in the married life. As we will see later, in the married life Eros will never be enough; it will survive only if it is continually chastened and corroborated by higher principles.
As we already saw, the real danger is that Eros, honored without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon. (In The Great Divorce it appears as a manipulative tragedian, a personage who is in fact only a mask of a real person; But a mask with such a force that in the end it devours its owner). Lewis develops this idea more clearly: he considers the real danger in the marriage is not so much the fact that the lovers might idolize one another. In fact, he observes that „the deliciously plain prose and businesslike intimacy of married life render it absurd”. Even in courtship he questions whether anyone that has felt the thirst for the uncreated or ever dreamed of feeling it, ever supposed that the Beloved could satisfy it. The real danger seems to him not that the lovers will idolize each other, but that they will idolize Eros himself. That idolatry can be seen very clear when the pair says to one another: „It is for the love sake that I neglected my parents, left my children, cheated my partner, failed my friend at his greatest need.” Somehow, love seems to be a kind of god who can legitimate all kind of ugly acts, that we would never have accepted in any other situations.
And what is stranger than everything is the fact that Eros, whose voice seems to speak from the eternal realm, is not himself necessary permanent. He is notoriously the most mortal of our loves. And what is baffling is „the combination of his fickleness with his protestations of permanency”.
Because to be in love is both to intend and to promise lifelong fidelity. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. (The Christian law is not forcing upon passion of Eros something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is only demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do ).
But – as we know –, „Eros is driven to promise what Eros himself cannot perform”. We all heard of people who are in love again every few years; each time sincerely convinced that „this time it’s the real thing”, that their wanderings are over, that they found their true love and will them selves be true till death. And unfortunately even between the best possible lovers Eros i s intermittent. When they are in passion, it is very easy for them to be altruists, to consider personal happiness a triviality and to plant the interests of the other in the center of their being. But after a time the old self returns – as after a religious conversion.
These lapses are common in a marriage. But they will not destroy a marriage between „decent and sensible” people. The couples whose marriage will be endangered and possibly ruined by these lapses are those who idolized Eros. They thought he had the power and truthfulness of a God. When this expectation is disappointed, they throw the blame on Eros or, more usually, on their partners. Some good examples in that sense could be Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, whom that „deification” of Eros made them to commit adultery, and in the end to commit suicide. Another example (this time from reality), is the Romantic poet Shelley, who – for similar reasons – destroyed his wives (one of them committed suicide).
But Christian lovers know that in reality, Eros – having made his gigantic promise and shown them in glimpses what its performance would be like –, has „done his job”. He made the vows; it is they who must keep them. It is they who must labor to bring their daily life into a close accordance with what the glimpses have revealed. And all good Christian lovers know that „this program, modest as it sounds, will not be carried out except by humility, charity and divine grace”.
 C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, (New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1991), 3.
 Ibidem, 10-11.
 Ibidem , 12-16.
 Ibidem, 17.
 Ibidem, 36.
 Margaret Patterson Hannay, C.S. Lewis, (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1981), 221.
 C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, (HarperSanFrancisco: Zondervan Publishing House, 200 I), 97- 104.
 C.S .Lewis, Till We Have Faces, (New York: A Harvest Book, 1984), 304-305.
 M.P. Hannay, C.S. Lewis, 221; C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves, 61.
 C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves, 66.
 Ibidem, 67.
 C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, (New York: Simon & Schuster , 1996), 13, 72-73.
 C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves, 91-95.
 Ibidem, 96.
 Ibidem, 100.
 Lewis, That Hideous Strength, 117 , 316.
 Lewis, Ibidem, 380.
 Craig Keener, Paul, Women & Wives, (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), 158-169.
 Lewis, The Four Loves, 105.
 Ibidem, 119, 122.
 Ibidem, 106-107.
 Ibidem, 108-110.
 M.P. Hannay, C.S. Lewis , 124, 125.
 C.S.Lewis, Till We Have Faces, 304.
 Lewis, The Great Divorce, 117-127.
 Lewis, The Four Loves, 111.
 Ibidem, 113.
 C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 98.
 Lewis, The Four Loves, 114.