C.S. Lewis on Being in Love
There are so many deep insights from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. As much as I want to quote most of them, I’ll refrain from doing so since I’m planning to write a series of blogs about my musings on the book. This is what I will do instead: I’m going to excerpt a long portion of the book, from a chapter entitled Christian Marriage, on the topic of being in love. I’ve figured out that many will be interested. Here’s the excerpt:
What we call “being in love” is a glorious state, and, in several ways, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his sense would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, “the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.” Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can relied on to last in the full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people, the state called “being in love” usually does not last…But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense—love as distinct from “being in love” is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both parents ask, and received, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.1
1C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Walker and Company, 1987), 165-167.