Screwtape on marriage

June 12, 2013

Last Sunday, during the second part of my sermon on spiritual warfare, I shared a few insights from The Screwtape Letters about ways in which Satan attacks us. There were many more insights I would have liked to have shared—but that’s what this blog is for!

In the following passage Screwtape discusses with Wormwood the Satanic lie of being “in love” as the basis for marriage. I could have used these thoughts in my recent sermon on marriage. (Remember that “the Enemy” is God and “our Father” is Satan.)

The Enemy’s demand on humans takes the form of a dilemma; either complete abstinence or unmitigated monogamy. Ever since our Father’s first great victory, we have rendered the former very difficult to them. The latter, for the last few centuries, we have been closing up as a way of escape. We have done this through the poets and novelists by persuading the humans that a curious, and usually shortlived, experience which they call ‘being in love’ is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent; and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding. This idea is our parody of an idea that came from the Enemy…

In other words, the humans are to be encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-coloured and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result. Two advantages follow. In the first place, humans who have not the gift of continence can be deterred from seeking marriage as a solution because they do not find themselves ‘in love’, and, thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any other motive seems to them low and cynical. Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion.[†]

Let me highlight that last line: They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion.

C.S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters” in The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics (New York: HarperOne, 2002), 236, 238.

3 Responses to “Screwtape on marriage”


  1. I have read the screwtape letters a few times but had forgotten about this – Such a powerful truth and post. Thanks!

  2. Lisa Martin Says:

    Timeless wisdom from C. S. Lewis. Thank you for posting.


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