Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Embrace Pleasure with Sophistication

Question: Gary, in your book, Pure Pleasure, you ask readers to “embrace pleasure with sophistication.” Can you explain what that means? (Sarah in MD)

Thanks for asking, Sarah. Pleasure is a gift from God. It is good. He designed us to receive pleasure in many ways, and in fact is preparing us for an eternity of pleasure. We must also realize, however, that a hierarchy of pleasure exists—with God at the top—that orders all of our other pleasures. If the hierarchy gets broken or becomes skewed, then lesser pleasures will begin to war against the primary one, delight in Christ.

As Christians, we have an awful tendency to “over correct.” We see our error (“Oh, so maybe I can legitimately accept and even cultivate pleasure; I see how I’ve endangered myself and dishonored God with a prohibitionist mindset”), and then rush to the other extreme to get away from that error, only to create a new one (“I want to ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ for the rest of my life!”). Writing a book like this presents exactly that grave danger. Today’s church, frankly, has not earned a reputation for intellectual sophistication. Instead of holding things in a healthy balance, we tend to bounce back and forth between dangerous extremes.

Some who read my book, Pure Pleasure, looking for an escape from responsibility, will cling to theological truths about God and pleasure primarily to justify their unbalanced lives of ongoing entertainment. Ruin and misery await them. Others will likely dismiss all this talk about pleasure as superficial, trite permission to live perpetually in a “Disneyland” faith. They risk suffering a breakdown or getting lured into hypocrisy and addiction. Both attitudes—hedonistic license or pharisaic prohibitionism —grieve God.

1 comment:

  1. Balance, the age old challenge to both old and young.

    Love God supremely and love the neighbor as yourself. That will keep the balance right.