CS Lewis’s The Four Loves–a humble summary


The Four Loves

This is a short book summary  of CS Lewis’s classic, the Four Loves.

The four loves come from the Greek who use four words to describe what we use one for.

Storge: Affection Love

Phileo: Friendship Love

Eros: Romantic Love.

Agape: Divine Love. 

Storge Love: [The frosting on the cake] Affection is the most humble of the loves. It is the love of enjoying someone or something. Storge is the joy in seeing Les Miseribles. Liking this play can be a sort of this love. Also for people, it can be the enjoyment of their company, whether they believe what we do or not. Ice-Cream, watching 24 the series, being with good friends, quality as Storge love. Now this kind of love is the jacket that clothes the other loves that we may enjoy them. But even in this innocence their is the danger of selfishness. Of hoarding something or someone to their pain, or our.

“Love, having become a god, becomes a demon.”

Phileo Love: [The punch on the side] Friendship is the least needed says Lewis of the Loves. This is the least jealous of the loves. “Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure or burden.”

This friendship is pointing somewhere, going somewhere, while Eros points the people at each other Phileo points them toward that certain goal.

Funny that Lewis also states that if a male and female of same interests and goals, who are not repulsive to each other and love no one else, will eventually grown into Eros love. No true friendship, for single male and single female for Lewis. But although he speaks of this love as the least needed, it seems the most enjoyed and the longest lasting of the earthy loves. 

Eros Love: [My cake!]  This is also the love that creates the hottest of fires in our emotions. It can be a wonderful light, or a scorching fire.  Romantic or erotic love: Lewis calls this “being in love.” Now there is a difference in being in love and “falling in love.” You can control the former but not the last one. It is the love that is least thought about but most felt. It will be completely destroyed says Lewis as destroying the mountain view when you locate it in the retina, by analyzing it. It is sexual and not. It seeks one and only one person. “The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself.” This love does not aim at happiness, but on a particular person at all cost. “Better to be miserable with her than happy without her.” He writes

“When the two people who thus discover that they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them will very easily pass – may pass in the first half hour – into erotic love. Indeed, 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 the lovers. But this, so far from obliterating the distinction between the two loves, puts it in a clearer light. If one who was first, in the deep and full sense, your Friend, is then gradually or suddenly revealed as also your lover you will certainly not want to share the Beloved’s erotic love with any third. But you will have no jealousy at all about sharing the Friendship. Nothing so enriches an erotic love as the discovery that the Beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into Friendship with the Friends you already had; to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love but we three or four or five are all travelers on the same quest, have all a common vision.”

Agape Love [Do you want my cake?]: This is the highest and most unselfish of the loves, the 1 Corinthians 13 love. Also called Charity. It is not natural, It goes against our very natures. It loves the unlovable, undeserving, the ugly. It gives all and asks for not a thing in return. It is the one that takes the greatest chance. And is hit with the most loss. But Lewis pens word that echo down the very core of our souls as a hated truth:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable, love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make of keeping it intact…you must give your heart to no one not even an animal…lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -safe, dark, motionless, airless-It will change, it will not be broken it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

This is our choice, take a chance, tis better to love and die, than to not love and cry. God is Love, and that love we all will slowly develop as we grown in Him: We begin to change from natural to supernatural.

It is a wonderful thing to have all four of the loves aimed at one person.  They all do for my precious wife.  But they must fall in order, least we treat them as a means and not an end.

In all, it is one of my favorite books  Again Lewis amazes me, and inspires me in his work.

What do you think? Is there more to love than these four? If so what are they?

The Four Loves four loves book cover

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mike

    Khaldoun, concerning the last kind of love of which you speak, the agape love, can you honestly say you love everyone? Do you want to love everyone? I’ll be the first to say that I don’t love everyone and I don’t want to love everyone. I have no problem admitting this. But back to my question, Khaldoun, if you don’t love everyone, but want to love everyone, why is this a goal of yours? What is it good for? Also, I’m not sure the deity, or deities, in the Bible practice this agape love. In the psalms, it explicitly says that God hates people. Many of the calvinist persuasion would be more than happy to affirm this.

    • Pauline McCaig

      Hi Mike
      It’s me again— I am having trouble responding to your last post on the other thread– it appears to be a technical hitch– so using this one just to say that I look forward to future conversations with you, as and when the ‘ spirit’ moves either one of us to speak ! Thank you for the background info.– it sounds as if though we have maybe started from very different points, we may well have arrived at similar points.

      Whilst I am here though— agape for me has always suggested attempting to act towards others as if one ‘ loved’ them, rather than actually doing so in terms of having a felt emotional attachment to them. Something to strive for for most of us I guess rather than achieve! Interestingly though it was the centrality of that within Jesus’s teachings which led to me a few years ago deciding that it was time I took another look at this thing called Christianity! Still looking!!

      • Mike

        Hi Pauline, sorry you had trouble responding on the previous thread. Are there times when it is the best thing to love someone or something who is “unlovable”? I guess. I have to be honest, though. The turn-the-other cheek mindset may sound peaceful and loving, but taking it out to its logical conclusions, such a mindset immobilizes people and enables others in bad behavior. I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t love people who needlessly mistreat others.

        • Pauline McCaig

          Hi Mike

          I think that it all depends upon what one perceives acting as if one loved someone entails—I don’t necessarily equate that with turning the other cheek—as I agree that that may well ‘ enable’ or certainly reinforce’ bad behaviour. Albeit if it was a straight choice between that and retribution I tend to think that in many cases the former produces the best outcome. If, however, acting as if one loved someone, even the unlovable, or perhaps particularly the unlovable, entailed also considering what was in their best interests as well as, or maybe even instead of my own, than yes I think that is a ‘good philosophy ‘ to live by! I struggle with people whom mistreat others as well, but mistreating them in turn in my experience only tends to reinforce that dynamic. A very complex subject, not really possible to explore it seems to me in such a forum as this, but good to hear from you anyway!

        • Anonymous

          Benevolent love is a desire for the good of others. Sometimes this means confronting someone about their sin and refusing to enable them.

      • socratricknight@gmail.com

        Thanks Pauline.
        Love is much more than a feeling as you rightly point out. To love someone is a deep thing. Looking out for someone’s best interest is one definition of love we cannot ignore.
        KS

  • Mike

    Khaldoun, I hope you don’t mind me posting this comment here, but I just want to say that I think it’s really cool of you to allow me to post my thoughts here on your blog. At times, you and I have clashed and for the times I have overreacted, I apologize. I’d like to think I’ve turned over a new leaf in my life, although I still stumble plenty. Hope you and I can let bygones be bygones and put our past skirmishes behind us. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you, in a civil and friendly manner of course. 🙂

  • socratricknight@gmail.com

    Hello Mike

    Yes God is love. But God is also Truth, and he is also Just. I don’t think I ever said “God loves everyone.” We love and hate because God loves and God hates. We are made in his image. Contrary to popular opinion, hating is not a bad thing. Hating evil, child abuse and rape is a good thing to hate! God hates sin and wickedness. And when we do these things enough, we become almost one with what we consume or allow to consume us and thus face the hate of God. But that hate can change when we change. His justice is based on his holiness and his love. A judge who does not hate evil is not a good judge.

    Nowhere in the Bible does it say the love the sinner and hate the sin, although that is a good lesson we can draw from scripture. God hates those who do evil (Psalm 5:4–6; 11:5). Proverbs 6:16–19 outlines seven things the Lord hates: pride, lying, murder, evil plots, those who love evil, false witness, and troublemakers. Notice that this passage does not include just things that God hates; it includes people as well. The question that begs to be answered at this point is why does God hate these things? God hates them because they are contrary to His nature—God’s nature being holy, pure and righteous. In fact, David writes, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 emphasis added). God is holy and hates sin. If He did not hate sin, He would not be holy. God is love, but He is also wrath, justice, and vengeance. But His wrath is a holy wrath and His justice and vengeance are holy as well. God’s love is holy.

    Therefore, He cannot “love everyone all the time no matter what they do,” as some like to claim. Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves righteousness and holiness and hates sin and evil. If He did not, He would not be a Good God.

    Because God is Holy, He hates our sin—our sin. In fact, He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Is there a sense in which God loves everyone? Yes. Does that love preclude God from also hating sin, wickedness, and evil? No. ( SOURCE Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010).

    You are right, Mike over a dozen times in the psalms, it says God hates the sinner. In the Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Rom. 1:18ff.) and on the sinner (John 3:36). There is a sense where God loves sinners, and another sense where he hates them He hates what we are when we sin, he hates it so much, it is evil, he illustrates it with blood, or animal sacrifice, a hideous thing to symbolize a greater hideous thing, evil in our hearts or sin. But he loves us so much he offers us a way out of that hideous thing called evil. He hates what man becomes when he sins, thus, but loves us enough to provide a way out. Hate is not the opposite of love. I will post about this soon.

    DA Carson writes

    “Our problem, in part, is that in human experience wrath and love normally abide in mutually exclusive compartments. Love drives wrath out, or wrath drives love out. We come closest to bringing them together, perhaps, in our responses to a wayward act by one of our children, but normally we do not think that a wrathful person is loving. But this is not the way it is with God. God’s wrath is not an implacable, blind rage. However emotional it may be, it is an entirely reasonable and willed response to offenses against his holiness. But his love, as we saw in the last chapter, wells up amidst his perfections and is not generated by the loveliness of the loved. Thus there is nothing intrinsically impossible about wrath and love being directed toward the same individual or people at the same time. God in his perfections must be wrathful against his rebel image-bearers, for they have offended him; God in his perfections must be loving toward his rebel image-bearers, for he is that kind of God.” [D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God]

    Two great books on this issue are “God’s love” By RC Sproll and the DA Carson I quoted from “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.

    “http://www.ligonier.org/store/the-difficult-doctrine-of-the-love-of-god-paperback/
    and
    http://www.ligonier.org/store/gods-love-paperback/

    I have a lot more to say…in fact, I will start a new post about this issue soon! Thanks for your insights.
    KS

    • Mike

      Khaldoun, thank you for your detailed response. In addition to being a very good speaker, you are a very good writer. You’re just a good overall communicator. You make several points. I won’t be able to address all of them due to time constraints. Also, I’m trying to be more precise and less longwinded. I’ll just say the following for now:

      We agree that there is objective moral truth, along with objective good and objective evil. However, I don’t believe in sin….at least the evangelical/fundamentalist (I’m not using fundamentalist in a derogatory sense, by the way) view of sin. There are several reasons for this. Who and what defines what sin is? The Bible? I don’t think the Bible is consistently clear on what is a sin or not. I find the morality in the bible to be pretty relativistic. Heck, even people who claim to follow the Bible (Christians of various kinds) can’t even agree completely on what’s a sin or not or whether something is sinful according to the Bible. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Bible is unclear on everything, but from my research it’s not the consistent and coherent rulebook that evangelical/fundamentalist Christians make it out to be. I also think a lot what is called “sin” by theologically conservative Christians is often just part of being human and is not harmful. That being said, I understand that too much of something can be harmful, but let me emphasize that that could apply to anything, including several legal, law-abiding, harmless behaviors.

      On a related subject, I will say that even if “sin” exists, I find the Roman Catholic position on sin, with it’s distinction between mortal and venial sins to make more sense than the Evangelical “sin is sin” view.

      The whole blood sacrifice for “sin” concept makes no sense to me….at least it doesn’t anymore. But that’s another discussion for another day, and I don’t feel like writing a book.

      Thanks again for the response. I see you have a new blog post. I’ll check it out.

      • Hello Mike

        Yes God is love. But God is also Truth, and he is
        also Just. I don’t think I ever said “God loves everyone.” We love and
        hate because God loves and God hates. We are made in his image.
        Contrary to popular opinion, hating is not a bad thing. Hating evil,
        child abuse and rape is a good thing to hate! God hates sin and
        wickedness. And when we do these things enough, we become almost one
        with what we consume or allow to consume us and thus face the hate of
        God. But that hate can change when we change. His justice is based on
        his holiness and his love. A judge who does not hate evil is not a good
        judge.

        Nowhere in the Bible does it say the love the sinner and
        hate the sin, although that is a good lesson we can draw from scripture.
        God hates those who do evil (Psalm 5:4–6; 11:5). Proverbs 6:16–19
        outlines seven things the Lord hates: pride, lying, murder, evil plots,
        those who love evil, false witness, and troublemakers. Notice that this
        passage does not include just things that God hates; it includes people
        as well. The question that begs to be answered at this point is why does
        God hate these things? God hates them because they are contrary to His
        nature—God’s nature being holy, pure and righteous. In fact, David
        writes, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not
        dwell with you” (Psalm 5:4 emphasis added). God is holy and hates sin.
        If He did not hate sin, He would not be holy. God is love, but He is
        also wrath, justice, and vengeance. But His wrath is a holy wrath and
        His justice and vengeance are holy as well. God’s love is holy.

        Therefore,
        He cannot “love everyone all the time no matter what they do,” as some
        like to claim. Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves
        righteousness and holiness and hates sin and evil. If He did not, He
        would not be a Good God.

        Because God is Holy, He hates our sin—our
        sin. In fact, He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Is
        there a sense in which God loves everyone? Yes. Does that love preclude
        God from also hating sin, wickedness, and evil? No. ( SOURCE Got
        Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered
        (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010).

        You are right, Mike
        over a dozen times in the psalms, it says God hates the sinner. In the
        Bible, the wrath of God rests both on the sin (Rom. 1:18ff.) and on the
        sinner (John 3:36). There is a sense where God loves sinners, and
        another sense where he hates them He hates what we are when we sin, he
        hates it so much, it is evil, he illustrates it with blood, or animal
        sacrifice, a hideous thing to symbolize a greater hideous thing, evil in
        our hearts or sin. But he loves us so much he offers us a way out of
        that hideous thing called evil. He hates what man becomes when he sins,
        thus, but loves us enough to provide a way out. Hate is not the
        opposite of love. I will post about this soon.

        DA Carson writes

        “Our
        problem, in part, is that in human experience wrath and love normally
        abide in mutually exclusive compartments. Love drives wrath out, or
        wrath drives love out. We come closest to bringing them together,
        perhaps, in our responses to a wayward act by one of our children, but
        normally we do not think that a wrathful person is loving. But this is
        not the way it is with God. God’s wrath is not an implacable, blind
        rage. However emotional it may be, it is an entirely reasonable and
        willed response to offenses against his holiness. But his love, as we
        saw in the last chapter, wells up amidst his perfections and is not
        generated by the loveliness of the loved. Thus there is nothing
        intrinsically impossible about wrath and love being directed toward the
        same individual or people at the same time. God in his perfections must
        be wrathful against his rebel image-bearers, for they have offended him;
        God in his perfections must be loving toward his rebel image-bearers,
        for he is that kind of God.” [D.A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the
        Love of God]

        Two great books on this issue are “God’s love” By
        RC Sproll and the DA Carson I quoted from “The Difficult Doctrine of the
        Love of God.

        “http://www.ligonier.org/store/…
        and
        http://www.ligonier.org/store/

        I have a lot more to say…in fact, I will start a new post about this issue soon! Thanks for your insights.
        KS

  • Widmy Dessources

    Unconditional love is not only what C.S Lewis just described, what we feel only, what we want. I am talking about love without string attached, without commitment. Our child doesn’t have to do anything to earn our love. We love them exactly as they are. That is unconditional love for me, because a parent understand and accepted their child even when they misbehave.

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  • Paul Knapp

    This writer does not believe CS Lewis.

    • Hello Paul.
      When you see ” this writer” are you referring to me or to you? Either way what specifically about CS Lewis is not to be believed ?

  • Salvador Unzueta

    I absolutely love the concept of the four loves. Being able to split love into these four categories actually become some themes i use in my own writings. Now i don’t quite believe that there are other loves, but that they combine in various ways. In a way i view my close friends and family with all the loves except Eros. I’d give everything for them and just being in the presence of any one of my closest compatriots. So while I do find the four loves, don’t necessarily cover all the potential love one can have for others, i do believe that the four loves can be used in tandem to describe a vast amount of affection. On a side note I personally love the concept of Agape love, and the connection one can make with it towards Jesus Christ.

  • Thomas Tannler

    I am not a great academic. In fact quite the opposite I have learning disorders. But I find these description and explanation to be so beautiful I cannot say. Thank you for such fine writing and for those who made such eloquent comments. Thomas Tannler