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The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis - 3 Big Ideas

Find out:

  • The Four Loves

  • The Bad that Can Come from the Loves

  • How to Keep the Loves Good

Right after this awesome intro:


The word “love” does a lot of work for us now-a-days.

The Greek’s, though, had a different system, which had love broken into four different types – and C.S. Lewis, masterfully explains them.

I’m Luke, this is Maddi, here are three portions of healthy food and here are 3 big ideas from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

3 Big Ideas

1. The Four Loves

The four loves of the wise Greeks.

“It is to our emotions what soft slippers and an easy, almost-worn-out chair and old clothes are to our bodies.”

Storge. The word of love most closely described as affection. It is born out of familiarity and is usually considered best between mothers and children.

It develops over time and you only recognize it when it has been going on for a while. It’s the love within families or church groups and has nothing to do with attributes.

You love “your people” with Storge.

Almost anyone can be loved with Storge. Even between species. Dog and man – and – dog and cat.

“it’s usually the humblest of loves, it gives itself no airs. Storge is modest, even furtive and shamefaced…”

The romantic love is face to face, Philia is side by side.

Philia is friendship.

“To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.”

The Greeks valued Philia heavily. They said that friendship has a comparable importance to beauty and value.

It is developed under the precondition of having an activity to do in common, then connecting on a personal level.

“It is companionship or camaraderie developed to a deeper level.”

“Friendship ... is born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”

“Among our hundred or so comrades, only 5 or 6 may be in the true sense “friends”

C.S. Lewis quotes Montaigne “a man is my friend because he is he, because I am I.”

“A man in love wants not a woman, but one particular woman.”

Eros is the main thing we think about when we say love now-a-days. What rom-coms and soap operas are made about. The love of romance and passion.

Like with Philia it is about the other person but in a much different way.

Eros obliterates the concept of giving and receiving.

And - it is not about happiness. When experiencing Eros “we had rather share unhappiness with the beloved than be happy on any other terms.”

“We are all receiving Charity. There is something in each of us that cannot be naturally loved.”

Agape is the love of charity and goodness.

An unearned spiritual love that desires the object’s good for the object’s sake.

A selfless love that is felt for the wellbeing of others.

There are people you can’t feel Storge, Philia or Eros for but you can practice Agape to any person and any animal.

Love split into four makes it easier to understand love. And with this deeper look, we uncover a dark side.

2. Love, Bad and Worse

For those of us who have experienced it – we are aware of atleast one thing. (<<<Love hurts)

But it’s more complicated than that, as each type of love has its own flavor of ache.

Storge, the affectionate love born of familiarity, naturally escalates and it “carries the natural seeds of hatred.”

When given too much attention and assumed as a right, say between family members, it can lead to guilt and resentment.

Or when the oedipal mother, who relies on the Storge of her child, squeezes her child close to her with no intention of letting go, she eventually ruins the life of the child and then her own.

Bad Storge can lead to bad manners, possessiveness and jealousy.

Philia or friendship can be dangerous because it continuously strengthens the ideas and actions you bonded over – and it doesn’t correct for morality.

Friends give us moral support, or immoral support.

Eros or the romantic love tends to fall in love with itself.

“Eros, honored without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon.”

When all faith is put into Eros, it gets short-sighted and jealous.

Agape or charity isn’t inherently bad, we just generally dislike it. Giving it is great but receiving it can be annoying.

“There’s that in the heart of every man which resists and resents Agape from other creatures. A love unearned. We naturally want to be desired, to be found delightful… to satisfy worldly some hunger in others. To receive a love which is purely a gift, which bears witness solely to the lovingness of the giver and not at all to our loveliness, is a severe mortification.”

“We desperately need to receive such love but we don’t naturally want to”

Each love but Agape, when used as a crutch, eventually cripples. But have no fear; we can take measures to avoid love-catastrophes.

3. Taking Proper Measures

You don’t perform a heist without knowing where the alarm lasers are and you don’t love without knowing where the alarm lasers are.

Storge is tricky because it is born out of familiarity. The other person becomes a part of your environment, so you want them to stay in your environment. But to transform this from a love of just affection to a love that is good for both of you, you must desire for their own good, not just your own status quo. To keep Storge as a healthy love you must add a dash of Agape.

To keep Philia from putting you in harm’s way you must pick your friends carefully. We all know at this point what good friends are and what bad friends are. Use your moral judgement to make sure you have friends that will lift you up, not bring you down.

Eros can stay healthy if you treat it with some humor and keep it from being at the top of the pyramid. Romantic love is great, but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously or be considered the only thing that matters.

Agape is both good to practice and to have practiced on us.

“This we must learn, first to believe, then to endure then to delight in. “

“Every listener who has had a good parent or wife or husband or child, may be sure that at times, he is the recipient of agape, love not because he is loveable, but because love itself is in the other party.”

The loves need “correction” “they need the help of higher powers in order to remain themselves. The more we trust them to be self-sufficing, self-corrective or self-perpetuating” the more disappointed we will be. Like a garden, a garden untended, left to nature, will not be a garden for long.


There are 4 loves. Storge is familiarity and affection and is the base of the other loves. Philia is friendship and should not be taken lightly and is generally not even considered a love at all. Eros is the romantic love and is an obsession with another person. Agape is the charitable love for others that makes the world go round.

The loves can be dangerous though. Storge can become an addiction and ruin the participant’s lives. Philia can give evil strength. Eros can prize itself and become jealous. Our pride can keep us from receiving Agape, which we all need.

To keep the loves from going sour we need to tend them like gardens. We must also care for those who we feel Storge for. We should choose friends who are good for us. Eros should be taken less seriously and not put above the rest. We must practice Agape in both pouring it out and receiving it.

Wow. I’d never read C.S. Lewis before. There’s a reason he’s considered amazing.

When he’s not speaking in metaphor he’s dropping a quotable, brilliant piece of word art on your head. Super interesting and it really gets you thinking.

If you get the audio book version you actually get to listen to he himself read it, so that’s pretty cool.

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