Mere Christianity by C.S. LewisToday we’ll look at the third section of the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. This section is called “Christian Behaviour” and discusses various areas of morality and what Christians believe. As he has done throughout the rest of the book Lewis attempts to provide logical, rational, reasoning for why these things are better than the alternatives that the world offer.

This section begins with a discussion of what Lewis calls the “cardinal virtues,” which he lists as prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The rest of this section focuses on defining those virtues and how they interact with the various thoughts and teachings of Christianity.

One of the key understandings that Lewis gives is that of the Golden Rule. We all know this principle, “do as you would be done by” (that is how Lewis puts it). This principle is a rather interesting one and the way in which Lewis develops it is intriguing. He discusses that while Christians hold to this principle as a way of living, he claims that we have as of yet been unable to implement it as a political program.

My view of politics is something I’ll leave for a different discussion, but I do want to comment briefly on what was said. There are two major schools of thought when it comes to dealing with politics: the first is that we should be as involved as we possibly can be. The thought is that we can be a preserving influence in the system that can help secure the rights for Christians as well as implement policy that will have a Christian moral slanting. The other view says that we need to divorce ourselves completely from politics and allow God to do what he will within the political system. Whatever your view may be, Lewis seems to say that there is a sense in which we should be attempting, as best as possible, to implement laws that will help fulfill the Golden Rule.

Perhaps the most interesting chapter is the one in which he deals with sexual morality. In this area the moral principle is pretty clear: either complete faithfulness to your spouse, or complete abstinence. In the Christian view there is no alternative but of course our society doesn’t really care for the idea of chastity. For the last fifty years we have had sexuality thrust upon us with the claim that sex has gone awry because it was hushed up and repressed for so long. Given the current state of affairs it seems that there was some justification for hushing things up.

As Americans we are fairly consumed with sex. From the advertisements all around us and the proliferation of the “adult entertainment” industry, an outside observer would think that sex is all we think about. There is no doubt that we are a rather consumed society which has learned that fulfilling every desire, no matter how strange, is a good thing. My friends there are some desires that should just not be pursued. We need to learn that chastity is not a bad thing; if I give into every craving for food I’ll become obese and unhealthy (like I currently am). This holds true for all areas of our life; all things in moderation.

The rest of the section is filled with discussions about forgiveness, faith, marriage, charity, hope. But what I have written above should give you a good idea of what they contain.

Like I have said before I really appreciate Lewis’ insights into some of the basics of the Christian faith. His ability to reason and make connections is superb, but I wish he would use Scripture. I’ll spend a good amount of time in the final review discussing the things that I did not like, but it is enough for now to say that this continues to be a wonderful read that I think anyone could sit down and enjoy.