Christian Desire

‘We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition  when infinte joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.’

– C.S. Lewis, ‘The Wight of Glory,’ pp. 25-26

The Scriptures are no strangers to desire; indeed, the Song of Solomon is an ode to an erotic ecstasy between two people who desire each other for no reason other than they simply love each other. As Lewis so keenly noticed, it is not the strength of our desire – that is an integral part of our humanity. Rather, it is the object of our desire that is wrong. We are created with a desire for God and His utterly infinite splendour, glory and joy, but we go astray by trading that joy for simple toys that ultimately won’t and can’t satisfy what we really want – and, as Lewis again noticed, the whole unhappy story of humanity is humanity doing precisely that.


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