Moral Choices

More insight from C. S. Lewis:

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, “If you keep a lot of rules, I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.”

I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.

I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.

And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself.

To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness.

Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

C. S. Lewis on Morality

There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was “The sort of person who is always snooping round to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it.” And I’m afraid that is the sort of idea that the word Morality raises in a good many people’s minds: something that interferes, something that stops you having a good time.

In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine. That is why these rules at first seem to be constantly interfering with our natural inclinations.

When you are being taught how to use any machine, the instructor keeps on saying, “No, don’t do it like that,” because, of course, there are all sorts of things that look all right and seem to you the natural way of treating the machine, but do not really work.

Redeemed Beauty

We’ve never seen men and women as they were intended to be. We’ve never seen animals the way they were before the Fall. We see only marred remnants of what once was.

Likewise, we’ve never seen nature unchained and undiminished. We’ve only seen it cursed and decaying. Yet even now we see a great deal that pleases and excites us, moving our hearts to worship.

If the “wrong side” of Heaven can be so beautiful, what will the right side look like? If the smoking remains are so stunning, what will Earth look like when it’s resurrected and made new, restored to the original?

C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien saw core truth in the old mythologies, and in their books they give us a glimpse of people and beasts and trees that are vibrantly alive. What lies in store for us is what we have seen only in diminished glimpses. As Lewis and Tolkien realized, “Pagan fables of paradise were dim and distorted recollections of Eden.”

The earthly beauty we now see won’t be lost. We won’t trade Earth’s beauty for Heaven’s but retain Earth’s beauty and gain even deeper beauty. As we will live forever with the people of this world—redeemed—we will enjoy forever the beauties of this world—redeemed.

C. S. Lewis said, “We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

And so we shall.

Randy Alcorn, Heaven