As I said in a previous post, I read C.S. Lewisâ€™ novel, Til We Have Faces again over my recent vacation. What a story! Set in ancient Greek mythology, this work exposes some incredible truths about our misplaced anger at God our misunderstanding of the ways in which he works. I wonâ€™t ruin this fairy tale for you but it involves two stepsisters of royal blood in an ancient European kingdom. One is taken away and the older fears she is being deceived by a cruel beast or some vile criminal even though she assures her older sister that she is living in a beautiful palace and has come to find the lover her soul has longed for.
The older sister, Orual, comes to her and demands that she return home. When the younger refuses, she out a dagger and stabs herself in the arm. She assures her sister if she will not do what she demands of her that that she will kill her sister and take her own life in suicide. As you can imagine the younger sister, who has looked up to Orual as a surrogate mother is devastated that their love could be so twisted. This is how the younger sister answersâ€¦
â€œYou are indeed teaching me about kinds of love I did not know. It is like looking into a deep pit. I am not sure whether I like your kind better than hatred. Oh, Orual, to take my love for you, because you know it goes down to the very roots and cannot be diminished by any other newer love, and then to make of it a tool, a weapon, a thing of policy and mastery, an instrument of tortureâ€”I begin to think I never knew you. Whatever comes after, something that was between us dies here.â€
The younger sister swears to do what sheâ€™s been told and it plunges her into ruin. When love becomes the excuse to manipulate others, even to do what we think is in their best interest, it becomes an instrument of torture not grace. How often religious leaders use the excuse, â€˜Weâ€™re only doing this because we love you,â€™ to justify all manner of ultimatum, gossip and rejection. And you know what? I mostly think theyâ€™re convinced itâ€™s true.
But true love never manipulates, never offers ultimatums, and it would prefer rather to be wronged than to wrong someone else in its name. Manipulating others for our own gain is one of the most ungodlike things we humans do to each other and tragically we mostly do it in his name.