What is Turkish delight? The short answer is that it is a strange, gelatinous candy. Lewis has taken this innocuous confection and uses it to show us something about the power of evil in our lives. We are inclined to think that “sin” is the accumulation of things we do wrong. By the way, isn’t it always easier to spot somebody else’s accumulation than your own (“This is my little pile of accumulated sin and here is your bigger pile.”)? But sin is not the adding up of our omissions and commissions; sin is a condition. It is the predisposition of our hearts to embrace what we know is wrong. It is the inclination of our hearts to rebel against God. Sin stands at the door and tempts us in. Sin will inflame our healthy appetites and desires so that something that is innocuous or even good can become the very destruction of us. Sin is, therefore, always ready to be whatever we want it to be.
In appearing to kindly befriend Edmund, the White Witch asks him a leading question: “What would you like best to eat?” For Edmund, who is just 9 or 10 years old, the particular item of temptation is this weird kind of jelly candy! What is it for you? Money, sex, power, prestige? The only sins that really tempt us are the ones that offer us what we think we want. All of this makes “Turkish delight” dangerous.
Here are a few things to bear in mind on the dangers of Turkish delight:
#1: Turkish delight will appear most appealing when we are weak.
When Edmund entered the wardrobe and stepped into Narnia, his heart was almost as icy as the landscape. The White Witch came upon a young boy who was cold, scared and alone. His anger and bitterness made him a sitting target. And then that same anger and bitterness clouds his judgment. He does not want to get on the White Witch’s sleigh with her, he is appropriately afraid of the White Witch, and yet Edmund disregards all his first instincts… as soon as she offers him the Turkish delight. Later he says,”‘All of these people who say nasty things about her are her enemies and probably half of it isn’t true. She was jolly nice to me anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect that she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she’ll be better than that awful Aslan!’ At least that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn’t a very good excuse, however, for deep inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.” The point here is that sin will always seek to deny how evil “evil” really is!
#2: Turkish delight will take you very fast where you never planned to go.
In a very short period of time, from Edmund’s first taste of Turkish delight, the Queen has taken Edmund captive. He now finds himself her prisoner, cowering at the bottom of her sleigh as it careens through Narnia to find and kill the other three children. Sin has this insidious capacity to carry us where we did not plan and do not want to go. Very quickly we find ourselves heading in a direction that we never intended to take and yet we are powerless to help ourselves. From the floor of the sleigh, Lewis tells us that Edmund is freezing cold, soaked to the skin and afraid for his life. He wrote, “All the things he had said to himself to make himself believe that she was good and kind and that her side was really the right side sounded silly to him now. He would have given anything to meet the others at this moment — even Peter!”
Sin is fun and has its pleasures. The problem is that the pleasure we derive from it decreases very quickly, while the lust for it increases. And there is sin’s capacity to take us very fast to places and situations that we never dreamed we would ever find ourselves in. Lewis wrote, “At last the Turkish delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more.”
#3: Turkish delight will always lead to betrayal.
Just one taste of Turkish delight and Edmund is ready to betray his brother and sisters. Sin is no respecter of persons. Sin does not play fair. Sin will tell you, “This is our little secret.” And therein lies part of its power. Edmund does not tell his brother and sisters about the Turkish delight or the Queen. In keeping it a secret, the result is that what could have been solved is fueled and grows stronger in the furnace of secrecy.
Sin will not keep your secret. It will always betray you and, worse still, it will betray any number of innocent people — the people you love, people you have never heard of, even those who have yet to be born.
So, is there an antidote we can take to Turkish delight? No! The wages of “Turkish delight” is death! The White Witch understood this much. Referring to Edmund she says, “That human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.” Speaking to Aslan, who is a lion and the true ruler of Narnia, she continues, “He knows that unless I have blood as the law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.” “It is very true,” said Aslan, “I do not deny it.” And on a stone table, Aslan laid down his life for Edmund’s.
Like Edmund, there is no antidote for our sin, but there is someone who was willing to die in our place so that we might live. The apostle Paul wrote, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7). Some two thousand years ago, the Lion of Judah, “being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself and became obedient to death — even on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Paul further wrote, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us; he took it away and nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13c-14).
If sin takes you fast where you don’t want to go, then the rescue that is available to us through the Cross is even quicker. In Edmund’s complete powerlessness, overcome with darkness and in fear of death, he is very suddenly set free, taken from one Kingdom to another in an instant. “For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14).
Sin would seek to publicly disgrace and shame us. Aslan restored Edmund very privately. There was no public shaming. Lewis captured it this way, “As soon as the children had breakfasted they all went out, and there they saw Aslan and Edmund walking together in the dewy grass, apart from the rest of the court. There is no need to tell you (and no one ever heard) what Aslan was saying, but it was a conversation that Edmund never forgot.” The apostle Peter, who knew this truth by heart, shares with us, “…the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6).
In His great love,
SEE ALSO: Quiz: Which Narnia Child are You?
Drew Williams is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Church Greenwich, a writer and engaging public speaker. Drew’s ministry has been directed toward helping people find and deepen an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Prior to ordination in the Anglican Church in 2000, he practiced as a litigation attorney. Drew and his wife, Elena, came to the U.S. in 2009 to lead and serve Trinity Church.