Often people wrestle with the problem of pain, they ask questions like if God is good and powerful, why is there so much suffering?” Though that is a very valid and real question worthy of much thought another equally important problem is what some refer to as the problem of pleasure. Many lose their faith or are kept from faith by suffering but in our day many are also kept from faith because of pleasure.
Solomon wrestled with the problem of pleasure and discovered that the pursuit of pleasure diminishes meaning. 21st Century man with all his entertainment, travel and illicit forms (drugs, pornography) of pleasure struggles with meaning more than probably any other in history. Addiction is a real problem and mostly people are addicted to some form of pleasure: “Addiction“an ever-increasing craving for an ever-diminishing pleasure.”
These are lyrics from Lilly Allen’s song the fear that provides a modern take on the struggle with pleasure.
Pleasure is God’s invention.“Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s [God's] ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is [God's] invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. An ever-increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula…. To get the man’s soul and give NOTHING in return–that is what really gladdens [Satan's] heart.” From the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Here are some suggested boundaries to pleasure, they come from Ravi Zacharias from his Podcasts and writings on the Problem of Pleasure.
The poison of pleasure
• What we fear or hate can ruin us.• What we love can ruin us.
9 So I became great and excelled more than allwho were before me in Jerusalem. Also mywisdom remained with me. 10 Whatever myeyes desired I did not keep from them. I did notwithhold my heart from any pleasure, For myheart rejoiced in all my labour; And this was myreward from all my labour. 11 Then I lookedon all the works that my hands had done Andon the labour in which I had toiled; And indeedall was vanity and grasping for the wind. Therewas no profit under the sun.
“And I am a weapon of massive consumptionAnd its not my fault its how Im programmed tofunctionIll look at the sun and Ill look in the mirrorIm on the right track, yeah were on to a winnerI dont know whats right and whats real anymoreAnd I dont know how Im meant to feel anymoreAnd when do you think it will all become clear?Cuz Im being taken over by the Fear”LILY ALLEN - THE FEAR LYRICS
NKJV You will show me the path of life; In Yourpresence is fullness of joy; At Your right handare pleasures forevermore.
1Co 6:12 NASB All things are lawful for me, butnot all things are profitable. All things are lawfulfor me, but I will not be mastered by anything.#1 Refreshment that does not distract, diminishes,or destroys our final goal.#2 Pleasure that does not jeopardize the sacredright of another#3 Any pleasure not in balance will distort realityand destroy appetite