I am adapting this entry from my comments on a chapter in C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity entitled "Christian Marriage." It is from a note I sent to our college-age young people in another blog (that you probably do not read). It primarily surrounds the urging of the unmarried (at that time) Lewis to contrast loving with being in love. The quote in the title above forms the basis for my comments.
First, by this statement Lewis combats “shacking up” and other forms of intentionally arousing sexual passion in someone to whom you are not married. People who believe they are “in love” may set aside responsibility because the feelings of being in love are so intense. People who love their boyfriend or girlfriend rather than being in love with them know that stirring passions that cannot be satisfied righteously is unloving. They should “let the thrill go” because they are dooming the future of something God created to be enjoyed in its proper context to a guilty pleasure. Lewis effectively illustrates with food. When we want the thrill without the responsibility, we are like bulimics who binge and purge to avoid the natural consequences of overeating. Sexual experimentation outside marriage is relational bulemia. It makes the “feast” of marriage a guilty pleasure instead of a motivation to bless the Lord who gave it to us.
Next, by this statement Lewis combats the divorce problem. The biblical teaching on marriage is not first and foremost good because it helps marriage. It is good because it is marriage that helps us see the relationship God has with his people. God is not “in love” with us. He loves us. And it is not being in love with someone that prepares you for the commitment required for a 50-year (lifetime) marriage. It is loving someone even when the original feeling has waned. Loving someone makes you to keep the contract and, yes, even savor the sweetness of the contract. People who love each other can have productive disagreements because they quarrel with a resolution in mind rather the end of the relationship. The idea of going their separate ways is off the table because they honor the contract more than they honor the thrill. People who are merely in love quarrel selfishly, fearing the loss of the feeling and the person who brings it.
Finally, by this statement Lewis combats the controversy over biblical marital roles. It is not the thrill of being in love that makes a man love and lead his wife or moves a wife to joyfully follow her husband. Loving headship and joyful submission are not for the benefit of the male sex but for the stability of the world that is founded on the family order. The thrill that Lewis says needs to die rarely produces situations that require loving leadership or joyful submission (please read that twice). For example, that young man who is such a good leader in deciding which movie to attend on Friday night should also be evaluated by the way he acts when he is required to inconvenience himself to serve others. That picture of feminine charm may look good on your arm at the movie theater or at a concert but what is her attitude when it is her turn to deal with screaming babies in the church nursery? This is why I urge young believers to identify potential mates by observing them in situations that require unselfish service and even stressful problem-solving. He needs to show his love by humbly accepting the responsibility that comes with leadership. She needs to love by joyfully serving under the authority of another. Some couples get along great so long as there are dating diversions to keep them from addressing real life. Long-term relationships run in orderly ways that transcend difficult relational trials because more is at stake than the thrill.