Dear Reader, you may read Chapter 18 of The Screwtape Letters here.
My Dear Screwtape,
Your tirade upon Love and Marriage confirms, ironically, your own disqualifications to discuss human sexuality. You admit that our “routine technique” of sexual temptation poses “considerable tedium” for us demons, so you propose, therefore, to “pass it over,” yet you contradict yourself and proceed to discuss sexual temptation anyway, albeit within the broader framework of Love and Marriage. I admit that your sometimes keen observations about Love and Marriage reflect your firm grasp of the Enemy’s philosophy that Love exists where “the good of one self” finds its fulfillment in “the good of another.” You also correctly perceive that Love’s pattern - one individual fulfilled in another - replicates the Enemy’s own nature among humans. But I take issue with your chiding old professor Slubgob as an inadequate teacher who failed to teach me what I should know about sexual temptation. I protest, dear Uncle, that it is you, not I, who has forgotten what he learned in Temptation 101.
Certainly, human sexuality presents a “considerable tedium” for us demons, but not for the reasons you might suppose. Contrary to what your letter implies, sexual temptation is not remotely our business except as we might pollute the media and therefore the mind. Have you forgotten? Lust is an Adamic, not a Satanic, phenomenon. Your attempt to exploit sexual temptation among humans plummets you to a sphere lower than that to which Lord Lucifer ordained for you. Although we are princes of the powers of the air, we have convinced ignorant humans that we swirl among their genitalia, a successful guilt-avoidance technique that causes humans to deny their own responsibility for sexual perversion by attributing their error to our influences; but let us not fall prey to our own propaganda; our real business is spiritual, not sexual, perversion. Let me illustrate.
Unquestionably, sexual impurity is a perversion of Love, for it is the misapplication of one’s affections upon a forbidden and illicit object. Diverted love is perverted love that destroys itself, the illicit lover, and the forbidden beloved. Our real business is to replicate this physical perversion of love within the spiritual sphere. By misdirecting human love religiously expressed, we then redirect it toward a false or illicit object, especially an idol or a counterfeit conception of the Enemy. You see, as we imitate sexual perversion in the spiritual sphere, we accomplish a corruption higher than merely biological. Quite simply, by propagating false doctrine in the church, we manufacture “another Gospel” which points to “another Jesus,” and thus the patient is thoroughly deceived to believe in, pray to, to worship, and yes to love something he believes to be the Enemy but in fact is not. Do you see how scrumptious this is? The Enemy tries to counter our temptation to spiritual adultery by applying the same language to us as he does to sexual perverts. For instance, He calls us “seducing spirits”; describes our deceiving prophets as having “eyes full of adultery”; calls our Mother Church “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots”; and likens heresy to the honeycombed lips of a whore; He even explicitly traces the cause of the sweetest physical perversions to an antecedent and precipitative spiritual perversion that He calls “changing the truth of God into a lie.” Think a moment dear Uncle, is there a single instance in the Enemy’s handbook where He attributes sexual perversion to our activity? To the contrary, He everywhere attributes sexual perversion to Adam, not Abaddon.
And as for your contention that humans mistakenly believe that "a curious, and usually short-lived, experience which they call 'being in love' is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent; and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding," I’m afraid that this approach is quite out of date. Post-modern humans cohabit on the hunch that they may be in love, and sexual experimentation is a pretended litmus test for marital compatibility. Again, the Enemy’s handbook seems to contradict both you and this wicked and adulterous generation, for its great love story represents Love as that which “leaps upon the mountains and skips upon the hills” in a highly romantic yet pure quest for marriage. Dear Uncle, do I detect here a little jealousy? Since your failed affair with Medusa do you now impose your own autobiographical experience on human romance and marriage and conclude that, because you never knew Love so described that it therefore cannot be? But this is too brutal of me.
Remain in your realm, Screwtape. Concentrate on spiritual perversion and leave sexual perversion to the humans themselves. They’re doing a wonderfully nasty job on their own.
Your affectionate nephew,