Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Goodness Of Pleasure

Instead of distracting from one's relationship with God, pleasure is a valuable thing that is an integral part of an ideal relationship with God.  Christendom is in dire need of the recognition that God created humans for pleasure--not for a hedonistic indulgence that regards pleasure as what defines that which is good, but for the experience of the pleasures of an untainted existence where God himself walks among us.  God created humans so that we could experience the pleasure of relationships with himself, with other humans, and even with animals, as well as the joys of intellectual, spiritual, and sensual realities. 

The pleasures God fashioned us for are as diverse as they are powerful: friendship, sexual expression, music, originality, humor, entertainment, creativity, intellectual discovery, self-development, and food are just a handful of examples.  Because God made people to be autonomous individuals, a given person's affinity for a particular pleasure might be far weaker or stronger than that of another person.  The experience of pleasure is subjective.  However, some things that can generate pleasure are objectively more significant than others.  For instance, a love of reason, of God, or of friendship is a love of something that matters more than other things that can provide pleasure.

Some pleasures pertain strictly to the mind or its grasp of the external laws of reason (though all experiences of pleasure require a perceiving mind and that mind's grasp of the independent, external laws of logic to even be experienced at all), and some pertain to both the mind and the senses.  Concerning the latter, there is nothing shameful about many sensual pleasures that have been illicitly opposed by misguided Christians who chose asceticism over rationality [1].  At the same time, genuine intellectual pleasures are known only by a scarce handful of Christians; if this were not the case, the church at large would not be adrift in such an asinine intellectual stupor.

Both mental/intellectual pleasures and sensual pleasures are good as long as they do not entail the violation of any moral obligations.  The Biblical creation account clearly specifies that God created both the human mind and the human body, calling each "very good" (Genesis 1:31).  Any theology that devalues either the mind (consciousness/spirit) or the body is a heretical construct of fallacious minds.  When one realizes that God intentionally created people with the capacity for miscellaneous pleasures of the spirit and pleasures of the body, it should become easier to shed any reluctance to indulge in nonsinful forms of both.

Christian morality does not simply not condemn pleasure itself: pleasure is the reason God created humans in the first place.  A right relationship with God is the pleasure that grounds lesser human pleasures, anchoring them to the one who conjured them into existence.  Hedonism is merely a perversion of the desire for fulfillment that can only be constructively met by a right understanding of reality, and a right understanding of reality requires accurate theology.


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