Sometimes when I’m wondering what C. S. Lewis post to write on Saturdays, I turn to an excellent compilation of his works, The Quotable Lewis, edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root. Often it sparks further thoughts on one of Lewis’s insights.
This morning, I happened upon a relevant Lewis quote from his essay “We Have No Right to Happiness,” which he wrote near the end of his life. While 1963 may seem to be a long time ago to some, I remember the year well and the changes that were occurring in culture as sexual mores were moving more rapidly away from Biblical standards.
With all the latest revelations about sexual harassment (new accusations are popping up daily), Lewis’s comments in this essay are even more applicable in 2017 than they were in 1963.
A society in which conjugal infidelity is tolerated must always be in the long run a society adverse to women.
Women, whatever a few male songs and satires may say to the contrary, are more naturally monogamous than men; it is a biological necessity.
The more radical among us today would dispute that immediately. Biological necessity? Are you saying men and women are different? Yes. Lewis and I agree on that. What’s amazing is that it can be a matter of dispute at all.
Where promiscuity prevails, they will therefore always be more often the victims than the culprits.
Don’t the latest reports from all spheres of our society—politics, entertainment, sports, etc.—bear this out?
Also, domestic happiness is more necessary to them than to us. And the quality by which they most easily hold a man, their beauty, decreases every year after they have come to maturity, but this does not happen to those qualities of personality—women don’t really care twopence for our looks—by which we hold women.
Lewis is attesting that men can be truly superficial, attracted to women primarily by the external appearance and tempted to lose interest when that external appearance declines over time. Yet women, he asserts, are far less trapped by the external appearance of men. They seek something more substantial.
Thus in the ruthless war of promiscuity women are at a double disadvantage. They play for higher stakes and are also more likely to lose.
This has led many women to want to compete with men to see if they can be just as superficial, sex-obsessed, and crass. I find Lewis’s reaction to that attempt to mirror men’s foolishness to be just the right attitude a Christian should have:
I have no sympathy with moralists who frown at the increasing crudity of female provocativeness. These signs of desperate competition fill me with pity.
In their quest to be more like the men, women have demeaned themselves. They have lowered themselves to that same abysmal standard.
God calls both men and women to look past the externals and concentrate on what really matters: hearts that are truly seeking to follow Him. Those who have those hearts will never treat one another in despicable, self-serving ways.
Personally, I welcome the current revelations of sexual improprieties as exposure of the sinfulness of mankind, both men and women. It mustn’t stop there, though. Recognition of sin must go on to genuine repentance and being set free from that sin.
And that happens only through the Cross of Christ.