Five New Screwtape Letters… (#4)


My Dear Wormwood, 

Your patient is wrestling with the questions of sex and sexuality—this is very good for us. Obviously, the field for now is in our favour. Not only do the questions create anxiety in the patient and place him in a position of intellectual conflict with the doctrine of the church, but our work in the areas of acceptance and prejudice have created a situation where he feels both ashamed of the church (or, rather, of his idea of the church) and that the most “Christian” thing to do is something no Christian in history has ever considered—the reworking of that burdensome Christian sexual ethic. 

Of course, since you and I lack bodies, all these sexual activities are merely expressions of the human material nature—we must remember that sexual intercourse is nothing more than raw material for our use. Once again, the Enemy has given them bodies, given them desires through their bodies, and withheld the fulfillment of those desires. But then He saddles them with various restraints on their bodily desires, especially those pertaining to the procreative act. You and I well know that these desires can’t be fulfilled, but you mustn’t let your patient think that! From our perspective, it does not matter so much which desire the human creature experiences, what we want to do is corrupt it. We do this by suggesting that the only satisfaction for the desire is consummation of a sexual wish. We do this also by fostering the creature’s sense of “personal freedom” so that the restraint of desire feels like grave indignity. 

Once again, you must do one of two things. On the one hand, you can make your patient into a prig by having him adopt the traditional Christian teaching but adopt it with a dose of un-charity. Don’t let him think about the nature of desire or the fulfillment of desire in his idea of God. Let him be proud that he is “heterosexual,” and work up in him that vague sense of taboo regarding any nonstandard sexual acts, especially those labeled “homosexual.” This way, while he will be doctrinally secure, he will be so full of pride as to be useless in the Enemy’s service. On the other hand, you can drive your patient, by means of the vaguenesses of our doctrines of acceptance and prejudice, into such a muddle-headed state of thinking that he slowly drifts from any practical devotion and obedience altogether. Combine this with a sense of ‘progress’—that of moving toward some undefined but socially desirable advancement in ‘theology’—and the work will almost perform itself. He will feel that he is doing a Christian thing, while slowly moving away from any real alignment with the church. 

Ruinous to our cause would be any real study of what the church means by chastity. This should be easily enough done, since the church itself is embarrassed about its theology and therefore few teach its actual doctrine. If he were to be exposed to the ideas that his body does not belong to him—that no bodies belong to anyone!—that restraint of desire is demanded at every level of life, that chastity, rightly understood, is a virtue both within Christian marriage and outside of it, that the highest fulfillment of sexual desire is not found in any acts of consummation but in encounter with the Enemy, that the Enemy promises pleasures better than sexual intimacy to His creatures—if he were allowed to study these doctrines, then our case would be most certainly dire. Fortunately, we have arranged for them to be conveniently misplaced. 

Your affectionate uncle, 


Previous Letters:

Letter 1 (The Spirituality of Covid)

Letter 2 (The Allure of Acceptance)

Letter 3 (Prejudice)

Letter 5 (Pain)

One comment on “Five New Screwtape Letters… (#4)

  1. Janice Sigston says:

    Well done!


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