When most Christians think of C.S. Lewis, they probably picture a reserved Englishmen in a tweed suit with a pipe protruding from his lips. They may be surprised to find out he lived secretly with a woman for years. Or that he loved to drink. Or that he may have been, in the words of CNN’s John Blake, “so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.”
But Lewis’ fan club might be surprised by more than his personal life. Here are five quotes from the Narnia author that might make some Christians scratch their heads:
1. Lewis on Scripture: Though he held a high view of scripture, he might have deviated from some modern conservative Christians’ understanding of what that means. Shortly before he died, Lewis commented in Reflections on the Psalms, that Christians “still believe (as I do) that all Holy Scripture is in some sense—though not all parts of it in the same sense—the Word of God.”
2. Lewis on sexual chastity: Aside from living with a woman with whom he was likely sexually intimate, Lewis’s pragmatic view of chastity might have been unsettling to pietistic Christians, who tend to be rigid in their sexual standards. In Mere Christianity, Lewis sounds quite pragmatic when he says, “We may indeed be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. We must ask for God’s help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.” He went on to say that this doesn’t mean Christians should not strive for “anything less than perfection” in sexual holiness.