The Problem of Pleasure

One question that is often discussed has to do with God and human suffering. If God is good, then how do we understand His allowing pain? This question has been approached from many different angles and will continue to be debated. A question that one rarely hears raised relates to God and the human experience in relation to pleasure.

Who doesn’t love experiencing pleasure? Isn’t to be happy what everyone wants? Of course it is. Don’t pleasurable experiences lead to happiness? That would seem to make since, right?

We certainly live in a culture where one need not look too far to find activities or items that evoke a pleasurable response. As late rocker, Kurt Kobain growled, “Here we are now, entertain us.” We demand to be entertained. We crave pleasure.  Everybody wants their slice of the American dream and pursues anything that might bring pleasure, even with reckless abandon at times.

To state that there is a problem with pleasure would cause many to push back. Finding and experiencing pleasure is what life is about, many would say. So we find ourselves in an endless rat race to have more. It must be harder, better, faster, stronger! The empire of me must be expanded. We seek more power and greater prestige. Many seek to satisfy their lust with endless sexual encounters, all in the pursuit of pleasure. We look to enjoyable experience after enjoyable experience to bring us happiness.

Yet, in the midst of a culture where entertainment is big business, sex is a commodity, and one can find enjoyable activities readily available in many different venues, we find so often that happiness eludes us. Yes, pleasure has its own share of problems.

King Solomon, a man whose life knew no bounds. He had everything one can think of, and perhaps some of what one might not think of. There was no experience left untried, no desire left untasted, and no conquest left undominated. Yet, in the midst of his wealth, power, and experienced life, he uttered the words, “Everything is meaningless…completely meaningless…I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

As G.K. Chesterton once so pointedly remarked, “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain, meaninglessness comes from weary of pleasure.” Such great focus is placed on pain as that which ruins lives, but it is pleasure that is far more capable of dealing a death blow. When we attain our greatest pursuit expecting to find happiness and are met with disappointment, we are left with nowhere else to go.

There is nothing wrong with being happy and seeking pleasure. The difficulty comes when one seeks to find something of value apart from God. Pleasure alone will never satisfy our thirsty souls. Our hearts are like broken cisterns that can never be filled by pleasure alone. It is all just smoke and mirrors, a chasing of the wind, apart from the eternal, transcendent, all loving Creator.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

9 Comments

  • efchristi says:

    Thou will show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psa 16:11)

    I think it all depends on where you are seeking your pleasure and to what means you go to get that pleasure! I find singing to be very pleasurable, and when I sing at the Assisted Living homes my pleasure is multiplied several times when I see the joy on the faces of the residents.

    I may have missed the point of your dissertation and I read it several times before I decided to comment. It took me around it circles without really finding it. I do know I don’t chase the wind!

    Pleasure really depends on your definition of it and mine may be different than yours, but I do know you find happiness where you look for it. I find mine in bringing joy to others. So please excuse me as I boldly reach out to touch the wind!

    Walk daily with God at your side!

    Ed.

    • Josh Fults says:

      No, I think finding pleasure is wonderful in the right capacity. My point is that a life simply voted to seeking pleasure apart from Christ ultimately comes up hollow.

      • efchristi says:

        I agree with that!

        In your dissertation that is easy to over look. Maybe I read it to fast and just plain over looked it every time. When I went back just now, with that on my mind, I saw it.

        Thank you for responding.

        Ed

  • Joe says:

    Spot on my friend – Pleasure is not why we are here – If we minister and share the gospel to others because it brings us pleasure..Our heart is in the wrong place. If we minister to others because of a passion for people due to the inner dwelling of the holy spirit in believers hearts and we know it is a commandment in scripture to do so…… I t reminds me of John Piper he is a Christian Hedonist – His belief is our entire purpose is deriving pleasure from God. Anyway – Keep up the truth preaching in here you are spot on my friend!!!
    In Christ
    Bro Joe

  • Kristina DeVillier says:

    I like what you wrote. Sometimes people have to go through all that because seeking pleasure to find out that it is meaningless and most of the time hurtful. It is only after this that they seek true meaning in their life through Jesus Christ. In other words, some people just have to learn the hard way.

  • Kim Melancon says:

    We naturally seek to fulfill our lust, that brings us pleasure, finding what your looking always give you a burst of “pleasure”, the desire of our hearts can destroy us or bring us eternal life. It’s not easy to change the desire of your heart but necessary. seek joy in your life, joy is permanent pleasure… self control is what it’s all about.

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