Porn-Free Church

Parenting the Internet Generation Ebook Cover

With one in three Americans searching for porn at least monthly, our churches can no longer be silent. Find out how real pastors have implemented real solutions for addressing pornography in their congregations and are working to build a culture of accountability.”

7 thoughts on “CS Lewis on Lust

  1. I love C.S. Lewis. His book, “A Grief Observed” about his wife’s passing was a great encouragement to me during the death of my father. One image that reading that passage conjured up for me was that of the character “Smeagol” in Lord of the Rings. Pornography, or any obsession, for that matter, corrupts all logic and reason. All too often, even in my own life, have I seen my sin rationalize its survival in me for yet one more day.

    Thank you for posting!

  2. This excerpt from Lewis is brilliant, as are most of his writings; thank you for sharing it. It’s a gift from God, that desire in man’s heart, for purity and integrity. I’ve read many of his books, but not “The Great Divorce”. I’ll have to put it on my list now.

    I agree with the comment above, with regard to Smeagol from LOTR. Here we have such a vivid example of the icy grip of addiction and its unfortunate conclusion when the will yields to destruction.

    May God bless the work you are doing at Covenant Eyes. You have my prayers & utmost respect.

  3. Oh for death and resurection. I’ve been such a fool thinking I could keep the lizard on my shoulder. Yes, I want it killed…I am willing to die as well. Just free me to be the man God has choosen and made me to be. No more wasted time and energy that God intended to be spent on his kingdom and will. I am grateful for Lewis and his many great works. Lord I will with your strength guard my heart’s desires for from them flow the issues of life.

    From the comment above, I hate Smeagol partly because parts of his character I see in the dark struggles with sin in my own life. What I love is the innocence of Frodo and, when fallen, his determination to repent and go forward.

  4. I think you shouldn’t phrase it so that the “Ghost’s gripping sin is transformed into a white stallion”. Lewis’ intent is that the original stallion is returned to its own nature after having been transformed into a lizard! It gives a wrong conception of one’s soul’s desires to think that their lizard form was ever their reality. The ultimate fount of desire is always pure, because it always springs from a natural longing for love and kind touch that should have been fulfilled but wasn’t – either because no one touched us at all, or because we were touched in the wrong way. We are wounded in earliest childhood through the unkindness and misuse we experience from other people, and then later from the unkindness and manipulation we ourselves force upon others when trying dimly to ‘get our own back’.

    It is important to pity one’s lizard instead of hating it, because ultimately, what it is asking for is always love, no matter in how wrong a way it asks. When it asks in sadistic, cruel ways, we must not obey it – we must protect others, and ourselves, from it, but we should still listen to what it says, since it is at the same time a message indicating where the original horse has been imprisoned. Don’t do anything cruel, but don’t hate the desire you feel. Pity it instead, and try to find a way to bring it the love it really needs. Remember that the lizard form – a dragon form – is a form of self defense from some danger that is or has been real enough.

    Therefore, dealing with it is not just a matter of ‘killing’ it, for it has come into existence for the purpose of self preservation. It is more important to search and find for the cause of the need to turn dragon-like.

    If there is still a threat in the vicinity, no wonder that a person fears opening his heart to the vulnerable feelings of a horse’s sensitive nature, and prefers to seek his loving – emotional and physical – contact with others in an armoured, and even cruel, way.

    On the other hand, once the threat is really removed – and the person dares to believe that he is safe – then the lizard will cast off its skin on its own initiative, and the horse will return.

    I am not sure Lewis’ rather violent angel asking so bluntly and conveying the sense of hurry (‘now-or-never!’) is the best image of how we are healed from such hurt.

    It is true, though, that when met with the offer of true love and care from someone, a person is put in this frightening, and seemingly ‘violent’ situation of choice – he actually has to take a chance and trust this encounter, and this can feel like stepping over a precipice (‘dying’). And if he dares, then yes, the lizard may be killed and transformed. But I think the image is dangerous, because it may mislead people to think they can affect this process all alone, just by ‘willing’ it (killing the lizard off without there being any offer of love in the vicinity to bring the horse back to life).
    But without the presence of a saviour, there may be death only, but no resurrection. And one cannot just ‘will’ the presence of the saviour oneself. Here, we are powerless without the direct help from another – be this a loving human being, an angel or God.

    As long as one is in this situation, one is therefore best advised to treat the lizard as an animal or child rather than as a devil. We don’t let children control our lives or direct our actions, but we also don’t condemn them. Speak with it, comfort it, pity it, don’t fear it even when it speaks nasty things. Your soul is stronger than the nastiness, if you can find pity in you for it – if you can look at it openly and be understanding of it, because it is ultimately a cry for help and an expression of pain.

    • @MMM – My comment about the lizard being transformed into the stallion was simply meant to summarize what happened in the narrative. In this narrative Lewis does not delve into how the lizard became a lizard in the first place. I was trying to not go beyond what Lewis wrote here in this text, mostly letting the text speak for itself.

      I completely agree with you that underneath the lizard’s sadistic exterior and cunning temptations is something springing from longings given to us by God (in our pre-fallen state). The answer is not simply to repress the desire. We must bring it to God Himself and ask Him to transform it into the thing it was meant to be (like the Ghost did in Lewis’ narrative).

      However, I do think we should “kill” our sinful desires (Romans 8:13) because they are not merely natural longings beings expressed in twisted ways. They are, in fact, themselves sinful longings. Lewis himself said, when thinking of the state of our sexual instincts, “I think it is everything to be ashamed of” (Mere Christianity). This is because our sin is not merely sinful expressions of pure longings, but sinful expressions of depraved desires. Lewis’ narrative seems to indicate as much: the way the lizard is transformed into the stallion is not by coddling and pitying him, but by killing him and then resurrecting him as a new creature.

      I found your comment intriguing: “The ultimate fount of desire is always pure, because it always springs from a natural longing for love and kind touch that should have been fulfilled but wasn’t – either because no one touched us at all, or because we were touched in the wrong way.” Your comment gets at one of the oldest dialogues between Christian doctrine and psycho-dynamic psychology: Are we fundamentally deprived or fundamentally depraved? To clarify: Is there really such a thing as “neutral” desires that become frustrated and twisted by deprivation (i.e. not being loved the right way)? Or are our desires basically depraved, and in the context of a life lived in a world that is deprivational, we realize that depravity?

      Personally, I believe the latter, but I believe so because I think the Bible reveals this about our sinful natures.

      To clarify: I do think that often people are emotionally and psychologically wounded in their lives, which has a great effect on the directions they take in life. But if they were not already fundamentally depraved, with a bent towards idolizing their needs, wants, and desires, these emotional wounds would never have this sinful effect. They would treat the woundedness differently.

      Of course, we should never belittle the wounds of our childhood as if they don’t matter, but we should never use them to justify our idolizing of our desire to be loved. Yes, we should explore how our wounds explain our own particular “style” of sinning, but we should never conclude that our desire to be loved in the first place was merely a “natural” longing. Yes, it was a longing probably created by God in our first parents, but before the fall that desire was also subservient to the desire to glorify and worship God above all else. Since the fall, it is our nature to idolize our “need for love” as an all-important thing, and this itself must be repented of and killed.

      The good news is that God also resurrects the image of God in us through our union with the resurrected Christ (Colossians 3:1-4,10). This means, among other things, God will transform our desire for love into someone beautiful.

  5. @Luke – “Lewis himself said, when thinking of the state of our sexual instincts, “I think it is everything to be ashamed of” (Mere Christianity). This is because our sin is not merely sinful expressions of pure longings, but sinful expressions of depraved desires….”

    –Way to go Luke. Humanistic reasoning is dangerous to the Spirit at work in us. I believe G.K. Chesterton gives insight into this. “A man who has gone mad is said to have lost all reason. But in fact he has lost all BUT his reason.”

    @Luke – “Your comment gets at one of the oldest dialogues between Christian doctrine and psycho-dynamic psychology: Are we fundamentally deprived or fundamentally depraved?”

    –In the timeless classic, The Christian in Complete Armor,” William Gurnall writes, “It is really not too difficult for a proclaiming Christian to call himself a sinner. But it is ultimately unbearable for that same self-proclaiming Christian to say “In my heart, I am a hostile enemy to God!”

    No more lullabies!

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