Cardinal Virtues: Temperance

Temperance refers to all pleasures, and it means not abstaining, but going the right length and no further.  

-CS Lewis

Businessmen On Their Way To Work

Temperance from the latin temperare meaning restrain or temperantia, moderation. A most useful weapon against the deceiver in times of sorrow. C.S. Lewis suggests in his famous Screwtape Letters that devils deploy indulgence as a strategy when we are down. In the letters Screwtape writes to his demon understudy Wormwood and explains that they need be careful when dealing with indulgences. Pleasures he continues were in fact created by God and so when trying to distort them they are in fact on enemy territory. Screwtape goes on to say, “Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is the least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”

Temperance is enjoying pleasure within the bound set by God. Not going where God has forbid us to go. It is, of course, best this way. That first piece of cake is always the best and so on. God created good things for us to enjoy and I have come to believe that when we enjoy them properly it brings glory to our Creator. Going too far or a full degree off the intended, perverting the pleasure, is where the deceiver would like us. Focusing on true and false will rescue us. God sends His Word to heal.

C.S Lewis closes a short stop on temperance in Mere Christianity by holding that one of the deceivers worst victories with temperance is its modern restriction to drink. C.S. Lewis notes that the man who makes golf or work the center of his life or a woman who devotes all her thoughts to her appearance or children can be just as intemperate as someone who gets drunk every evening. Of course, these do not show so easily. They do not leave you slurring your words or stumbling in the street. But God is not deceived by externals.

-A takeaway from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

-A takeaway from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.