Love in C. S. Lewis

The author, based on C.S. Lewis' "The Four Loves", talks about affection, friendship, courtesy and companionship.

Santiago Leyra Curiá-May 8, 2023-Reading time: 5 minutes
CS Lewis

Author C.S. Lewis (AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

C.S. Lewis states in his famous book "The four loves" that, since God is blessed, omnipotent and creator, in human life happiness, strength, freedom and fruitfulness (mental or physical) constitute similarities with the divine. However, no one thinks that the possession of these gifts has a necessary relationship with our sanctification; none of these qualities constitutes a passport to Heaven.

C.S. Lewis and the Art of Love

Our imitation of God in this life has to be an imitation of the incarnate God: our model is Jesus. He of Calvary, of the workshop, of the roads, of the crowds, of the clamorous demands and harsh enmities, of the lack of peace and quiet, of the continually interrupted. All this, so strangely different from what we might think of as the divine life in itself, but so similar to what the life of the incarnate God was.

C.S. Lewis (Flickr / Levan Ramishvili)

In the beauty of nature C.S. Lewis found a meaning to the words glory of God: "I do not see how the phrase "fear of God" could say anything to me if it had not been for the contemplation of certain imposing and inaccessible cliffs; and if nature had not awakened in me certain longings, immense areas of what is called "love of God" would not have existed in me". 

Those who do not love those who live in the same town, the neighbors they often see, will hardly come to love the people they have not come to see. It is not love to love one's children only if they are good, one's wife only if she is physically well preserved, one's husband only as long as he is successful. Every love has its art of loving.

As Ovid said, "if you want to be loved, be kind". C.S. Lewis says that some women are likely to have few suitors and some men are likely to have few friends, because they have nothing or little to offer them. But he says that almost anyone can become the object of affection because there need not be anything manifestly valuable between those whom affection unites.


Affection is the most humble love, it does not give itself importance; it lives in the realms of the private and the simple. The best affection does not wish to hurt or dominate or humiliate. The better the affection, the more it is right in tone and timing.

Affection, besides being a love in itself, can become part of other loves and color them completely. Without affection, the other loves might not fare so well.

Befriending someone is not the same as being affectionate with him, but when our friend has become an old friend, everything about him becomes familiar. Affection teaches us to observe the people who are there, then to put up with them, then to smile at them, then to like them, and finally to appreciate them.

God and his saints love what is unlovable. Affection can love what is unattractive, it does not expect too much, it turns a blind eye to the faults of others, it easily recovers after a quarrel, as it is kind, it forgives. It discovers the good that we might not have seen or that, without it, we might not have appreciated.

Affection produces happiness if there is, and only if there is, common sense, honesty and justice, that is, if something more is added to mere affection. Justice, honesty and common sense stimulate affection when it declines. As in all love, affection needs kindness, patience and self-denial, which can elevate the affection itself above itself.


There is a difference between courtesy that is required in public and domestic courtesy. The basic principle for both is the same: "that no one should give himself any kind of preference". In public, a code of behavior is followed. At home, one must live by what is expressed in that code, otherwise one will experience the overwhelming triumph of whoever is more selfish. Those who forget their manners when they come home after a social gathering do not really live a true courtesy here either, they only imitate those who live it.

The more familiar the meeting is, the less formality there is; but that does not mean that the need for education is less. At home, anything can be said in the right tone, at the right moment, a tone and moment that have been designed not to hurt and, in fact, do not hurt.                                                                         

Who has not found himself in the uncomfortable situation of being a guest at a family table where the father or mother has treated his or her grown-up child with a discourtesy that, if addressed to any other young person, would have meant simply ending all relations between them? Certain defects in the family politeness of adults provide an easy answer to the questions: why are they always away, why do they like any house better than their own home?


Few value friendship because there are few who experience it. Indeed, we can live without friendship, without friends. Without conjugal love or eros, none of us who live would have been engendered and, without affection, we could not have grown and developed. But we can live and grow without friends.  

Friendship is the world of freely chosen relationships. Friendship is selective, it is the affair of a few. I have no obligation to be anyone's friend and no human being in the world has a duty to be mine. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like the artThe universe itself, because God did not need to create.

Each member of the circle of friends, in his intimacy, feels small before all the others. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing among them. He feels lucky, lucky to be in their company without merit. Although for some people today, behaviors that do not show an animal origin are suspicious, friendship is the least biological of all loves.

If lovers are usually face to face (love between a man and a woman is necessarily between two people), on the other hand, friends go side by side sharing a common interest and two, far from being the number required by friends, is not even the best. True friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends are happy when they are joined by a third... a fourth....

Beyond partnership

A forerunner of friendship is found in the companionship of clubs, gatherings, etc. But friendship arises outside the mere companionship, when two or more companions discover that they have in common some ideas or interests or, simply, some tastes that the others do not share and that until that moment each one thought that it was his own and only treasure or his cross. For that reason, the typical expression with which a friendship is usually initiated can be something like this: "What, you too? I thought I was the only one.

In friendship, it is not a matter of always acting solemnly. God, who made healthy laughter, forbids it. As someone said, "Man, please your Maker, may you be content and not give a damn about the world."

The authorSantiago Leyra Curiá

Corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation of Spain.

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