CS Lewis – CNN says CS Lewis is a creepy hypocrite… but leaves out a huge part of the story

December 20, 2013

CSLewis_Pipe

Lewis committing one of his two post conversion vices

CNN religion writer John Blake wrote this piece  marking the 50th anniversary of the death of famed Christian author C.S. Lewis. It would be a generally positive article but Blake seems to give the impression that Lewis was terribly inconsistent in his Christian faith and engaged in wildly inappropriate sexual jokes at parties (asking people to spank him) and lived with a woman outside of wedlock in a strange (and possibly sexual) relationship.

Reading the reactions to this story, I saw more than a few people quote this article with smug satisfaction supposing that it confirmed that yet another Christian is a creepy hypocrite. But there is a major part of the story that is not made clear in Blake’s article: both the salacious revelations (the inappropriate jokes and the alleged premarital sex) were BEFORE HE CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY. Yes, the “shocking” revelation  here is that Lewis did not adhere to Christian ethics before he was a Christian.

But that should not be shocking to anyone. The Apostle Paul participated in murder before converting. Saint Augustine was notoriously immoral before converting. And countless other heroes of the faith were not exactly ‘saints’ before becoming saints.

Of course no one is perfect after coming to faith either. In fact, even the most famous saints in history had areas of inconsistency and sin. But Lewis had nothing in his life known to us that would cause us to call him a hypocrite. His only known vices after converting were that he drank beer and he smoked tobacco……and neither of these things are sins if done in moderation.

For further reading, here is an article from a C.S. Lewis biographer who explains all of this better than I can.

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