Daily devotion

The Problem of Pleasure

Why is sex fun? Why is eating fun? Why are there colors?. It struck me the other day, after I ha d read my umpteenth book on the problem of pain, that I have never even seen a book on “the problem of pleasure”. Nor have I met a philosopher who goes around shaking his or her head in perplexity over the basic question of why we experience pleasure.

Where did pleasure come from? That seems to me a huge question–the philosophical equivalent, for atheists, to the problem of pain for Christians. Don’t atheists and secular humanists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?

One person, at least, faced the issue  squarely. In his indispensable book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton traced his own Christian conversion to the problem of pleasure. he found materialism too thin to account for the sense of wonder and delight that sometimes marks the world, a sense that gives an almost magical dimension to such simple human acts as sex, and childbirth, and artistic creation.

Pleasure is at once a great good and a grave danger. If we start chasing pleasure as an end in itself, along the way we may lose sight of the One who gave us such good gifts as sexual drive, taste buds, and the capacity to appreciate beauty. As Ecclesiastes tells it, a wholesale devotion to pleasure will, paradoxically, lead to a state of utter despair.

Somehow Christians have gotten a reputation as anti-pleasure, and this despite that fact that they believe pleasure was an invention of the Creator himself. We Christians have a choice. We can present ourselves as uptight bores who sacrificially forfeit half the fun of life by limiting our indulgence in sex, food, and other sensual pleasures. Or we can set about enjoying pleasure to the fullest, which means enjoying in the way the Creator intended.

Not everyone will accept the Christian philosophy of pleasure as a gift best enjoyed within the bounds of the Creator’s intent. Some skeptics will scoff at any insistence on moderation. For these skeptics, i have a few simple questions. Why is eating fun? Why are there colors? I’m still waiting for a good explanation that does not include the word God.

I was just Wondering(32-36)

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