C. S. Lewis on Christian morality


C. S. LewisIn a collection of broadcast talks called Christian Behaviour, C. S. Lewis’ said this:

“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 don’t think that is the best way of looking at it. I’d 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 heavenly 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.”

This is a good reminder that our moment-by-moment choices do have consequences. The Apostle Paul supports this idea when he writes:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15–16, ESV)

There are two extremes to be avoided in thinking about the choices that we make. The first is to become frozen because the understanding of the importance of each one becomes overwhelming. The second danger is to be stop caring about them because the decisions come so fast that it is difficult to process them correctly.

This is an imperfect illustration but perhaps it might help the discussion.

Assume for a moment that I have a perfect understanding of exactly what type of diet is good for me. I have a strict list of things that I know are good for me to eat. But these foods are not found in their purest form. In other words, the “healthy” foods are available but are combined with things that are not on the list. One extreme would be to not eat anything at all until I was sure that it was 100% healthy. The other extreme is to give up any hope of choosing well and eat Krispy Kreme donuts (or Dunkin’ Donuts, I am an equal opportunity donut eater).

The Christian’s desire is to choose well, but often we do not. But a proper understanding of the sovereignty of God frees us up with the understanding that even when we don’t choose well, God can use that poor choice to draw us closer to himself. We have the opportunity to repent and have our relationship restored.