Philip Sherrard

Christianity and Eros

Essays on the Theme of Sexual Love

In spite of the fact that marriage is recognized as a sacrament by the Church, the attitude of Christian thought towards the sexual relationship and its spiritualizing potentialities has been in practice singularly limited and negative. From the start, Christian authors have been ill at ease with the whole subject. Sexual activity tended to be seen as a sign of man's sinful and degenerate state and the modern Christian is taught to distinguish between love in the New Testament sense — agape — and eros, and to see eros as a debased form of agape, if not actually opposed to it. All in all, the Church has done scant justice to its insight that sexual love is, at least potentially, a sacrament.

In this concise yet challenging work Philip Sherrard does not provide a systematic theology of sexual love but indicates some of the considerations and principles that must be taken into account before such a theology can be adequately formulated. His four essays are entitled ‘The Sexual Relation in Christian Thought’, ‘The Body, Beauty, and Sexuality’, ‘Towards a Theology of Sexual Love’, and ‘An Approach to the Sacrament of Marriage’.

‘. . . calm, reflective, and based on an intimate knowledge of the Eastern tradition in theology. . . . The Christian tradition, despite setbacks and deviations, contains in its founding texts a clear statement on the sacramental nature of marriage; the union of man and woman is the image of Christ’s union with his Church. To call marriage a sacrament, therefore, is to say that the love which brings man and woman together is not merely a human impulse, nor even an elemental force, still less some psychosomatic energy; it is ultimately a spiritual energy “rooted in the divine life itself”. From the Greeks Dr Sherrard has learnt that love is not only, as Plato saw, “birth in beauty”; it is regeneration to oneself and paradise restored.’

Peter Hebblethwaite in The Times Literary Supplement.

Christianity and Eros was first printed by SPCK, London, in 1976. This new amended edition, printed in 2022, has been re-typeset and includes an index.

  • 104 pages, 20.0 x 13.5 cm, 2022

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