Eros was the Greek god of sexual attraction, taken by Rome as their god of desire.
Eros grows within the consciousness of the individual. What comes first is simple delight in the Beloved individual and preoccupation of that totality of delight within the individual Lover. For Lover in this state, thoughts are of the Beloved rather than on sex, a contemplation of the other’s being, not rooted in sex. This contemplative Lover is more likely to experience the incoming tide of Eros rising, a reorganization process that invades the Lover’s concepts of life, taking them over one by one right down to one’s foundational precepts of morality.
Sexual experience can occur without Eros, without being ‘in love’. Although sexuality may operate without Eros, other elements besides sexual activity lead to a natural consummation of Eros, with or without the body’s participation in actual sexual climax.
Popular opinion holds that the absence or presence of Eros is what degrades or sanctifies the sexual act. For centuries marriages were arranged so that a man and a woman were united under the command to ‘discharge the marriage debt’ with no other appetite than animal desire – an age old desire that produced new life in children of men, children to be raised within stable family households.
Conversely, a sexual act performed under the influence of Eros rising reduces the human organic brain’s ability to consider the consequences of sexual activity. This lack of foresight can lead to the practice of deceit and betrayal of trust, broken hearts, and abandoned children. It is a common discovery that we all come from tainted stock, as unsuspecting members learn upon receiving their DNA test results.
Sexual activity, whether performed in sin or in duty, can still be judged by the criteria of promises kept or broken, by acts of justice or injustice, by self-giving charity for life or selfish denial of life.
Comes the end of the day, it is charity for the good of the other that keeps Lover and Beloved married for life, it is charity of the Lover who cares for the Beloved until the end of life, it is charity for new life that bears babies, it is charity for good life that raises children.
Every selfish act weighs against the value of your life. And at the final hour, it is not Eros but only acts of charity for life that will count in your favor. How do you plan to measure up on the scales of justice when you face death?
(From C.S. Lewis (1955) Reflections on the Psalms, Second Meanings.)