“This is the great lost truth of the Christian faith, that correction of Judaism made by Jesus and passed on to us: the goal of morality is not morality—it is ecstasy. You are intended for pleasure!”
~ John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire
One of the great lies that people have believed from the beginning is that true pleasure is found outside the boundaries of morality. Too often we believe that pleasure is found by breaking the rules and living for the moment.
The morality God has given us in the Bible and in our conscience, seems to stand in the way of our having a good time. The party mentality isn’t just something new invented by students on college campuses, but it had gone back thousands of years. So many people have given their lives away to the party in an attempt to live the “good life”.
Too many people in our culture morality is seen as God’s attempt to keep us from having a good time. Morality tells us not to get drunk or high. Morality tells us that sex should be between a man and a woman, and then only within the bounds of marriage. Morality says to be a servant to other people, even though it will mean the sacrifice of both your time and money. Morality seems dull compared to the party.
How we can experience pleasure by doing the right thing?
Ravi Zacharias talks about this issue in his book Cries of the Heart. He wrote; “For true pleasure the price is paid before it is enjoyed. For false pleasure the price is paid after it is enjoyed” (p. 142).
There is no doubt that illicit sex and pornography bring pleasure to people. After all if there was no pleasure then people wouldn’t participate in them. The high of drugs, which include alcohol, gives people pleasure, which is one reason people continue to use them even in the face of negative consequences. These are temporary pleasures that end up enslaving us. God created us to experience pleasures to add joy to our lives, not to enslave us.
This requires us to keep all pleasures within their proper boundaries. That is where morality comes in. Morality provides us with proper context pleasures can be enjoyed without them becoming enslaving.
The truth I wish more people would understand is that momentary pleasures that look so appealing right now will have long term negative consequences. These consequnces are seen in diseases, broken relationships, crime, and an empty life. To ignore morality and to embrace pleasure may seem fun in the short term, but it is going to cost in the long run.
To pay the cost of morality, to practice self-control, and to obey the teachings of Jesus bring happiness and joy, which are the greatest forms of pleasure, into our lives. Ultimately pleasure isn’t about the feelings produced by a high, an aderline rush, or an orgasm, but about loving relationships, pride in a job well done, and the hope for a better tomorrow. False pleasures tear down the trust and love needed to produce loving relationships and lasting achievements. Relationships are the key to experiencing the pleasure God intended for us to have.
The ultimate cost of these false pleasures is that they are selfish, and the rob us of our humanity. That means they take us away from God, and in the end separate us from Him.
God wants us to experience pleasure! The question is are you going to sell out to the fleeting pleasures of the party, or are you going to pay the price to experience pleasure the way God intended? That is the choice God has given each one of us to make.