C. S. Lewis identified four kinds of love in his book, “Four Loves.” They are affection, friendship, passionate intimacy, and divine love. I will first examine affection as it relates to C. S. Lewis’s book and a biblical understanding of affection.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Deep down we all need to be loved by others. Lewis described this kind of need as a Need-love. One begins to desire affection early in life, and it is found in the animal kingdom, both in mankind and beasts. A mother who nurses her offspring is showing simple affection by giving nutrients and life. Puppies and kittens are in a position of needing milk from their mother. Does a mother and a father also have a Need-love when they are giving love? Lewis found a paradox in this image when we realize the mother and father also have a need to give care to their young ones. Lewis distinguished a giving love as a Gift-love, but a Gift-love can also very well be a Need-love. Emperor penguins take care of their young by having the male and female take turns keeping the egg and chick warm. A chick needs love, and the parents are also engaging in a love they need to give.
Lewis called two aspects of affection as Need-love and Gift-love. Any two human beings can unite when one person simply expresses brotherly kindness to the other. Relatives, neighbors, and strangers can all show affection. A person who does not give love might not have many friends, but he or she can become the object of anyone’s affection. Human affection can be given to anyone regardless of age, sex, class, or education. Affection is the humblest of the four loves. It is the most modest and can be taken for granted.
Affection begins to grow when two people seem to grow fond of each other over time. In that way, affection is an appreciative love. At first, a person might begin to appreciate things he or she has in common with someone else. Ultimately, mature affection is discovered when one learns to appreciate individual human life without basing it on one’s preferences. Lewis described mature affection as “teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate the people who happen to be there.” He went on to examine several problems related to affection. Lewis agreed with psychology that says affection can produce happiness. The caveat, determined by Lewis, is that one needs reason, justice, and a higher sort of divine love for maximal happiness. If one tries to live by affection alone, “affection will go bad on us.”
Join me for a 1-hour #HealthyFaith chat on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, where you have an opportunity to discuss the topic of “Affection” in more detail. You can read chapter 3 “Affection” ahead of time, but it is not necessary. I will spend four Tuesdays going through “Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis from Tuesday, April 27-May 18. I hope you can participate!
- Login to Twitter. Click on #HealthyFaith
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- Find my questions relating to Affection. Comment and reply.
Lewis, C.S. Signature Classics. New York, NY: Harper One, 1960.