As I read the “Eros” chapter of The Four Loves, a few things really stood out to me. First, I really liked how C.S. Lewis makes the distinction between Venus (sexual desire) and Eros (being in true love). On the first page of the chapter, he says, “I am inquiring not into the sexuality which is common to us and the beasts or even common to all men but into one uniquely human variation of it which develops within ‘love’ – what I call Eros.” He talks about Venus as simply an animal-like desire for another person. For men, it is "the want of a woman." It doesn’t matter who she is; it is simply the desire to satisfy the sexual urges of the body. According to Lewis, Venus fits inside of Eros and there is a time and place for Venus (within marriage), but any relationship started with a sexual desire on the part of one or both of the members of the relationship is bound to end. Lewis says that Eros is something stronger; it is to be “in love” with another person. Eros is "the want of the woman." It is not only a sexual desire, but a love for the other as a person and not a means of satisfying physical yearnings. Lewis states that most lasting relationships will start with simple Eros, an interest in someone as a person. After some time Venus for that person will start to develop, but overall it is the Eros which is lasting. Venus is coming and going, but Eros is something stronger and more enduring.
I really liked how Lewis described Eros on the third page of the chapter. He says,
Very often what comes first is a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved – a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality. A man in this state really hasn’t leisure to think of sex. He is too busy thinking of a person. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself.
I love how beautifully Lewis says this. I also appreciated what was said in class about this being a standard for us to keep in our relationships. We are to see ourselves and others as valuable and indispensable sons and daughters of God. When we look at someone with mere sexual desire without a presence of Eros, we are not treating that person with the respect we are called to have for others. One cannot base a successful relationship simply off of Venus. It is important that in a relationship, one's focus remains on God and his will for their life. Both members of the relationship must keep their eyes focused on God and continually do their best to follow his guidance in that relationship. As soon as we lose sight of God, or as Lewis mentions at one point, as soon as we fall in love with the idea of "true love," and put this love before God; our relationships will suffer.
I also really liked Lewis’ garden analogy towards the end of the chapter. I think that many people, including myself, share a misconception that loving someone is going to be easy (or at least a lot easier than it actually is). This is far from true. Lewis tells us that in giving us the Eros kind of love for someone, God has given us an indescribably beautiful garden. However, in order to maintain their beauty, gardens require a lot of sweat, blood, and tears. Likewise, says Lewis, love requires work. We can’t expect that loving someone will always be something which happens effortlessly. Lewis tells us that to be married means to be constantly working and struggling in both our human relationship and also our relationship with God.