The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis– letter 17

God has gifted us with many good ‘appetites’, for good things, even essential things. Without our thirst, perhaps we’d die of dehydration. Without our appetite for love, we might not ‘bond’ with our families from the youngest of ages. Appetites can be good gifts from God. But they can also be distorted and manipulated into addictions. It could be said that such addictions and appetites have become ‘gods’ which we ‘worship’, having abandoned self-control.

In Chapter 17 Screwtape invites Wormwood to consider the potential of gluttony to destroy the faith of his ‘patient’. Chapter 17 can be downloaded here:

With C.S. Lewis we might wonder when we last heard a sermon about gluttony and about the excesses of indulgence. We might wonder about the spirituality of ‘appetite’– within a popular culture that affirms all passions, urges and appetites. We’re told, “If we want it, it must be good. Whatever our hunger, it is right to be satisfied. We should never deny our appetite.”

The apostle Paul, however, calls the Philippians to take a different view.

17    Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Philippians 3″17-21

For your consideration:

  1. According to Paul here, what might be the antidote to gluttony (and all uncontrolled passions of the flesh)?
  2. Practically speaking, how might we set our minds on heavenly things?