C. S. Lewis quotes on homosexuality

Letter from C. S. Lewis regarding homosexuality, quoted in Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy, pp. 146-148, in response to a question about a couple of Christian students of Vanauken who were homosexual and had come to him for advice:

I have seen less than you but more than I wanted of this terrible problem. I will discuss your letter with those whom I think wise in Christ. This is only an interim report. First, to map out the boundaries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homo. no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying. Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (Jn. IX 1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God shd. be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, wh. will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations wh., if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homo. has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he wd. be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition. What shd. the positive life of the homo. be? I wish I had a letter wh. a pious male homo., now dead, once wrote to me–but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women cd. not give. But it is all horribly vague and long ago. Perhaps any homo. who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under Divine guidance will, however, be shown the way. I am sure that any attempt to evade it (e.g. by mock or quasi-marriage with a member of one’s own sex even if this does not lead to any carnal act) is the wrong way. Jealousy (this another homo. admitted to me) is far more rampant and deadly among them than among us. And I don’t think little concessions like wearing the clothes of the other sex in private is the right line, either. It is the duties, burdens, the characteristic virtues of the other sex, I suspect, which the patient must try to cultivate. I have mentioned humility because male homos. (I don’t know about women) are rather apt, the moment they find you don’t treat them with horror and contempt, to rush to the opposite pole and start implying that they are somehow superior to the normal type. I wish I could be more definite. All I have really said is that, like all other tribulations, it must be offered to God and His guidance how to use it must be sought.

ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/interesting-letter-from-c.s.-lewis-on-homosexuality

Home arrow CSL on Homosexuality-supplement to 1952-July 1953

CSL on Homosexuality-supplement to 1952-July 1953 E-mail

This listing accompanies study questions for section 1952-July 1953 (pg. 175-210) of Yours, Jack.

I. From his autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1956),

Chap. 6, pp. 88-89

“After games, gallantry was the principal topic of polite conversation; who had ‘a case with’ whom, whose star was in the ascendant, who had whose photo, who and when and how often and what night and where. . . . I suppose it might be called the Greek Tradition. But the vice in question is one to which I had never been tempted, and which, indeed, I still find opaque to the imagination. Possibly, if I had only stayed longer at the Coll, I might, in this respect as in others, have been turned into a Normal Boy, as the system promises. As things were, I was bored.”

Chap. 7, pp. 108-09

"Spiritually speaking, the deadly thing was that school life was a life almost wholly dominated by the social struggle; to get on, to arrive, or, having reached the top, to remain there, was the absorbing preoccupation. It is often, of course, the preoccupation of adult life as well; . . . and from it, at school as in the world, all sorts of meanness flow.


        "And that is why I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll.  There is much hypocrisy on this theme.  People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this.  But why?  Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea, as we do, say, for necrophily?  I think that of very little relevance to moral judgement.  Because it produces permanent perversion?  But there is very little evidence that it does.  The Bloods would have preferred girls to boys if they could have come by them; when, at a later age, girls were obtainable, they probably took them.  Is it then on Christian grounds?  But how many of those who fulminate on the matter are in fact Christians?  And what Christian, in a society so worldly and cruel as that of Wyvern, would pick out the carnal sins for special reprobation?  Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh.  The real reason for all the pother is, in my opinion, neither Christian nor ethical.  We attack this vice not because it is the worst but because it is, by adult standards, the most disreputable and unmentionable, and happens also to be a crime in English law.  The World will lead you only to Hell; but sodomy may lead you to jail and create a scandal, and lose you your job."  

II. From Mere Christianity (1943)

Lewis talks about sexual morality in general in chapter 5 of Book III (Christian Behavior) of Mere Christianity.

III. Letters

From Yours, Jack (2008)

Contains two letters regarding homosexuality

  1. To Bede Griffiths (28 May 1952) on p. 181.

“The stories you tell about homosexuals belong to a terribly familiar pattern: the man of good will, saddled with an abnormal desire which he never chose, fighting hard and time after time defeated. But I question whether in such a life the successful operation of Grace is so tiny as we think. Is not this continued avoidance either of presumption or despair, this ever renewed struggle, itself a great triumph of Grace?”
2. To Sheldon Vanauken (14 May 1954) on pp. 241-42

“First, to map out the boundries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homosexual no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying. Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (Jn. IX 1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e., that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity to glorious gain.’ Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them. That is merely a negative condition.
What should the positive life of the homosexual be? I wish I had a letter which a pious male homosexual, now dead, once wrote to me–but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy. He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women could not give. But it is all horribly vague–too long ago. Perhaps any homosexual who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under divine guidance will, however, be shown the way.”

From C. S. Lewis Collected Letters, Vol. 3 (2007)

To Delmar Banner (27 May 1960) on p. 1154

“Thanks, I’m glad you liked the book [The Four Loves]. I quite agree with you about Homosexuals: to make the thing criminal cures nothing and only creates a blackmailers’ paradise. Anyway, what business is it of the State? But I couldn’t well have had a digression on that. One is fighting on two fronts: a. For the persecuted Homosexual against snoopers and busybodies. b. For ordinary people against the widespread freemasonry of the highbrow Homosexuals who dominate so much of the world of criticism and won’t be very nice to you unless you are in their set.”

IV. From The Four Loves (1960), chapter on Friendship, pp. 61, 62-63
"This imposes on me at the outset a very tiresome bit of demolition. It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.

        "The dangerous word really is here important.  To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false; the wiseacres take refuge in the less palpable charge that it is really - unconsciously, cryptically, in some Pickwickian sense - homosexual.  And this, though it cannot be proved, can never of course be refuted.  The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two Friends does not disconcert the wiseacres at all: ‘That,' they say gravely, ‘is just what we should expect.' The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence; the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden.  Yes - if it exists at all.  But we must first prove its existence.  Otherwise we are arguing like a man who should say ‘If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.'"

“Kisses, tears and embraces are not in themselves evidence of homosexuality. . . . On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step.”

V. Arthur Greeves

Lewis’s best friend from childhood and throughout life was a boy who lived across the street from him in Belfast named Arthur Greeves. Lewis wrote more letters to Greeves than any other person. A collection of them fills a 500+ page book. Later biographies disclose that Arthur was homosexual. Lewis did not disassociate from Greeves because of it. Their friendship, correspondence, and visits continued until Lewis’s death in 1963.

cslbookclub.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=84&Itemid=107

“My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognize that the majority of the British people are not Christian and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.”

examiner.com/article/gay-marriage-according-to-cs-lewis

I can’t make sense of the following, maybe someone else can dig out the quote in mind,

cslbookclub.com/site/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=83&Itemid=106

  1. On page 181 in this week’s reading and pages 241-42 later in the book, Lewis answers questions about homosexuality. To put this in context, read Lewis’s other references to homosexuality on the handout. How would you describe his opinion on the subject. Did anything in his writing surprise you?

thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/08/12/a-letter-from-c-s-lewis-on-christian-piety-and-homosexuality/

In Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, C. S. Lewis wrote about the schoolboy homosexuality at Wyvern, the boarding school he attended as an adolescent. He then speaks directly to an imaginary reader:


Here’s a fellow, you say, who used to come before us as a moral and religious writer, and now, if you please, he’s written a whole chapter describing his old school as a very furnace of impure loves without one word on the heinousness of the sin. But there are two reasons. One you shall hear before this chapter ends. The other is that, as I have said, the sin in question is one of the two (gambling is the other) which I have never been tempted to commit. I will not indulge in futile philippics against enemies I never met in battle.

(“This means, then, that all the other vices you have so largely written about…” Well, yes, it does, and more’s the pity; but it’s nothing to our purpose at the moment.)

spiritualfriendship.org/2013/08/23/c-s-lewis-on-homosexuality-and-disgust/

spiritualfriendship.org/2013/08/23/c-s-lewis-on-homosexuality-and-disgust/

continued,

Returning to Lewis’s words, toward the end of the chapter, he takes up the theme of homosexuality again (emphasis added):


The Wyvernians seem to me in retrospect to have been the least spontaneous, in that sense the least boyish, society I have ever known. It would perhaps not be too much to say that in some boys’ lives everything was calculated to the great end of advancement. For this games were played; for this clothes, friends, amusements, and vices were chosen.

And that is why I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll. There is much hypocrisy on this theme. People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this. But why? Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea, as we do, say, for necrophily? I think that of very little relevance to moral judgment. Because it produces permanent perversion? But there is very little evidence that it does. The Bloods would have preferred girls to boys if they could have come by them; when, at a later age, girls were obtainable, they probably took them. Is it then on Christian grounds? But how many of those who fulminate on the matter are in fact Christians? And what Christian, in a society as worldly and cruel as that of Wyvern, would pick out the carnal sins for special reprobation? Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh. The real reason for all the pother is, in my opinion, neither Christian nor ethical. We attack this vice not because it is the worst but because it is, by adult standards, the most disreputable and unmentionable, and happens also to be a crime in English law. The world may lead you only to Hell; but sodomy may lead you to jail and creat a scandal, and lose you your job. The World, to do it justice, seldom does that.

If those of us who have known a school like Wyvern dared to speak the truth, we should have to say that pederasty, however great an evil in itself, was, in that time and place, the only foothold or cranny left for certain good things. It was the only counterpoise to the social struggle; the one oasis (though green only with weeds and moist only with fetid water) in the burning desert of competitive ambition. In his unnatural love affairs, and perhaps only there, the Blood went a little out of himself, forgot for a few hours that he was One of the Most Important People There Are. It softens the picture. A perversion was the only chink left through which something spontaneous and uncalculating could creep in. Plato was right after all. Eros, turned upside down, blackened, distorted, and filthy, still bore the traces of his divinity.

refutation of “two kinds of marriage” with other quotes by Lewis
mereorthodoxy.com/why-c-s-lewis-is-wrong-on-marriage/

modernchristianliving.com/bible-studies-with-pastor-duke/a-vineyard-pastors-response-to-ken-wilsons-book-a-letter-to-my-congregation/

short quotes, unable to check context,
collegejay.blogspot.com/2008/10/lewis-on-homosexuality.html

More interestingly, he then goes onto say, “In homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e. that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will ‘turn the necessity into glorious gain.’” This is a fascinating point. Rather than seeing weaknesses of our desires, grace can abound where sin was once present (cf. Rom 5:20). In our weakness we can give great glory to God, even through our weaknesses (cf. Rom 8:26, 2 Cor 12:9-10). With homosexuality, perhaps this might mean learning to live a celibate life, being more compassionate and understanding.

loveundefiled.blogspot.com/2009/01/cs-lewis-on-homosexuality.html

ponderingprinciples.com/2013/03/lewis-and-gods-severe-mercy/

that’s all I could find, most links simply rehash those quotes.

Maybe, someone can find passages where Lewis did exegesis on biblical passages like Romans one.

So, when your professor, says Lewis never wrote anything about gay issue, you can confront him with these quotes.

Thanks, God Bless, Memaw

You are welcome

Daniel

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