CSL on Homosexuality-supplement to 1952-July 1953
CSL on Homosexuality-supplement to 1952-July 1953 E-mail

This listing accompanies study questions for section 1952-July 1953 (pg. 175-210) of Yours, Jack.

I.           From his autobiography, Surprised by Joy (1956),

Chap. 6, pp. 88-89

"After games, gallantry was the principal topic of polite conversation; who had ‘a case with' whom, whose star was in the ascendant, who had whose photo, who and when and how often and what night and where. . . . I suppose it might be called the Greek Tradition.  But the vice in question is one to which I had never been tempted, and which, indeed, I still find opaque to the imagination.  Possibly, if I had only stayed longer at the Coll, I might, in this respect as in others, have been turned into a Normal Boy, as the system promises.  As things were, I was bored." 

Chap. 7, pp. 108-09

"Spiritually speaking, the deadly thing was that school life was a life almost wholly dominated by the social struggle; to get on, to arrive, or, having reached the top, to remain there, was the absorbing preoccupation.  It is often, of course, the preoccupation of adult life as well; . . . and from it, at school as in the world, all sorts of meanness flow.

* * *

            "And that is why I cannot give pederasty anything like a first place among the evils of the Coll.  There is much hypocrisy on this theme.  People commonly talk as if every other evil were more tolerable than this.  But why?  Because those of us who do not share the vice feel for it a certain nausea, as we do, say, for necrophily?  I think that of very little relevance to moral judgement.  Because it produces permanent perversion?  But there is very little evidence that it does.  The Bloods would have preferred girls to boys if they could have come by them; when, at a later age, girls were obtainable, they probably took them.  Is it then on Christian grounds?  But how many of those who fulminate on the matter are in fact Christians?  And what Christian, in a society so worldly and cruel as that of Wyvern, would pick out the carnal sins for special reprobation?  Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh.  The real reason for all the pother is, in my opinion, neither Christian nor ethical.  We attack this vice not because it is the worst but because it is, by adult standards, the most disreputable and unmentionable, and happens also to be a crime in English law.  The World will lead you only to Hell; but sodomy may lead you to jail and create a scandal, and lose you your job." 

II.        From Mere Christianity (1943)

Lewis talks about sexual morality in general in chapter 5 of Book III (Christian Behavior) of Mere Christianity

III.       Letters

From Yours, Jack (2008)

Contains two letters regarding homosexuality

1.  To Bede Griffiths (28 May 1952) on p. 181.

"The stories you tell about homosexuals belong to a terribly familiar pattern: the man of good will, saddled with an abnormal desire which he never chose, fighting hard and time after time defeated.  But I question whether in such a life the successful operation of Grace is so tiny as we think.  Is not this continued avoidance either of presumption or despair, this ever renewed struggle, itself a great triumph of Grace?"

2.  To Sheldon Vanauken (14 May 1954) on pp. 241-42

"First, to map out the boundries within which all discussion must go on, I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin.  This leaves the homosexual no worse off than any normal person who is, for whatever reason, prevented from marrying.  Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance.  The disciples were not told why (in terms of efficient cause) the man was born blind (Jn. IX 1-3): only the final cause, that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
     This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation, those works can be made manifest: i.e., that every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will 'turn the necessity to glorious gain.'  Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can't lawfully get.  The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasures because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them.  That is merely a negative condition.
     What should the positive life of the homosexual be?  I wish I had a letter which a pious male homosexual, now dead, once wrote to me--but of course it was the sort of letter one takes care to destroy.  He believed that his necessity could be turned to spiritual gain: that there were certain kinds of sympathy and understanding, a certain social role which mere men and mere women  could not give.  But it is all horribly vague--too long ago.  Perhaps any homosexual who humbly accepts his cross and puts himself under divine guidance will, however, be shown the way." 

From C. S. Lewis Collected Letters, Vol. 3 (2007)

To Delmar Banner (27 May 1960) on p. 1154

"Thanks, I'm glad you liked the book [The Four Loves].  I quite agree with you about Homosexuals: to make the thing criminal cures nothing and only creates a blackmailers' paradise.  Anyway, what business is it of the State?  But I couldn't well have had a digression on that.  One is fighting on two fronts: a. For the persecuted Homosexual against snoopers and busybodies. b. For ordinary people against the widespread freemasonry of the highbrow Homosexuals who dominate so much of the world of criticism and won't be very nice to you unless you are in their set."

IV.       From The Four Loves (1960), chapter on Friendship, pp. 61, 62-63
            "This imposes on me at the outset a very tiresome bit of demolition.  It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.

            "The dangerous word really is here important.  To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false; the wiseacres take refuge in the less palpable charge that it is really - unconsciously, cryptically, in some Pickwickian sense - homosexual.  And this, though it cannot be proved, can never of course be refuted.  The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two Friends does not disconcert the wiseacres at all: ‘That,' they say gravely, ‘is just what we should expect.' The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence; the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden.  Yes - if it exists at all.  But we must first prove its existence.  Otherwise we are arguing like a man who should say ‘If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.'"

* * *

"Kisses, tears and embraces are not in themselves evidence of homosexuality. . . . On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation.  We, not they, are out of step."

V.        Arthur Greeves

Lewis's best friend from childhood and throughout life was a boy who lived across the street from him in Belfast named Arthur Greeves.  Lewis wrote more letters to Greeves than any other person.  A collection of them fills a 500+ page book.  Later biographies disclose that Arthur was homosexual.  Lewis did not disassociate from Greeves because of it.  Their friendship, correspondence, and visits continued until Lewis's death in 1963.