Monday, February 14, 2011

God is love, but love isn't God (C.S. Lewis)

From the introduction to this edition of The Four Loves.

St. John's saying that God is love has long been balanced in my mind against the remark of a modern author (M. Denis de Rougemont) that "love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god"; which of course can be re-stated in the form "begins to be a demon the moment he begins to be a god." This balance seems to me an indispensable safeguard. If we ignore it the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God. (pp. 6-7)

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. (p. 8)

Good words on this day devoted to love from the wisest book I've ever read on the subject. It's worth noting that Lewis isn't denigrating human loves. Romantic love, love of family, friendship, and love of country are all examples of love to be celebrated. They all reflect aspects of the divine love. It's when these loves become the ultimate thing, the highest good, that they carry within themselves seeds of poison.


Carla said...

Excellent point. Many times today people substitute something "good" in their lives for God and it becomes their idol. In many cases it is the overly obsessed love of another. It other cases it can actually be one's ministry. We need to remember to always put God first, to love Him with our whole being, and make sure all our motives and actions start with Christ and the love He instills in us.

Stephen Ley said...

Carla, thanks for stopping by. . . and for the on-point comment!