Book Review: The Four Loves

C.S. Lewis continues to amaze me. The Four Loves is a wonderful, insightful look at relationships with family, friends, spouses, and most importantly God. After reading this book, your perspective on the relationships in your life will be changed. Lewis has an uncanny knack for distinguishing and then defining different types of love, all the while helping the reader see themselves in these types of love. The Four Loves that Lewis writes about are affection, friendship, Eros, and charity. But before diving into these specific loves, he does an broad overview of love. For example, he writes:

Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve, or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: ‘We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.’ Need-love says of a woman ‘I cannot live without her’; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection – if possible, wealth; Appreciate love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never seen her at all.

I also want to quickly summarize the four loves. Affection is the quiet love, in the sense that it often goes unnoticed or is off the radar but permeates our lives. This is a natural love, built into our systems (for example, our families). Friendship, in contrast to affection, is one of the least natural loves. Friendship stems from companionship, a companionship that started with some sort of similar interest or liking. Eros love is the romantic love, but might be more closely aligned with agape love. Lewis writes, ‘In Eros, a Need, at its most intense, sees the object most intensely as a thing admirable in herself, important far beyond her relation to the lover’s need.’ In essence, Eros love loves even if the love is not returned. The last love is charity. Charity is plausible because of the divine love of God, which started from the creation and has transcended time. This undeserved love from God compels us to not only return the love to God, but to refract that love upon other human beings.

The Four Loves has much to offer in the field of relationships. Just Lewis being Lewis.

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