The Problem… of pleasure!!   1 comment

n a recent podcast the superb apologist and preacher Ravi Zacharias posited that, although we are so often preoccupied with the problem of pain, it is pleasure that presents the more subtle, and perhaps greater danger. He quotes Neil Postman’s analysis and comparison of the two classic “futurist “ works, “1984” by George Orwell and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. In his social commentary entitled “Amusing Ourselves to Death” Postman concludes that experience is teaching us that perhaps Huxley was closer to the truth in concluding that apathy and irrelevance held greater potential danger than Orwell’s “Big Brother.”

Concluding this to be the case Zacharias asks the question if God intends for man to have pleasure and refreshment how can we know if the sources of these things we choose are legitimate? The key he suggests is to have a clear view of our goal, the one given us by Jesus. ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Luke 10:27. With this ultimate goal in mind he sets out three “tests” to use when evaluating pleasure and then three applications which follow from those tests.


  • Anything that refreshes you, without distracting you from, or destroying your ultimate goal is a legitimate pleasure.
  • Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure.
  • Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance, will distort reality or destroy appetite.


1.     All pleasure must be bought at the price of pain

True pleasure is paid for in advance but for illicit pleasure the price is paid afterwards.

2.     Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain it comes from being weary of pleasure.

3.     The closer you get to pure pleasure, the closer you get to the heart of God. Conversely the closer you get to illicit pleasure, the further away you get from the heart of God.

I find it rather frightening, in our entertainment driven culture, to use these standards to evaluate my activity.  Is the love of God and my neighbor really the foundation of my day by day goals? Does the pleasure I allow myself in the consumption of food jeopardize the “sacred right “ of those whose lives are dominated by hunger? Are my pleasures in balance or are there times when I am ‘amusing myself to death?” I could go on of course but how about you?

Posted February 24, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

One response to “The Problem… of pleasure!!

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  1. Having had these past months ‘off’ has afforded me much thinking time and a keener sensitivity to the so called ‘problem of pleasure’. I took an online survey provided by an educational website on the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery, smugly believing that I would score well because I have been a conscientious consumer concerned about worker’s rights and country of origin exploitation of natural materials for over two decades now. My, was I shocked to learn that based on my purchases and the products that I use in my daily life that I was ‘incriminated’ in putting at least 22 SLAVES around the world to work. Apparently the term is not used loosely; the people that mine the precious metalic substances that modern day technology requires can be imprisioned at these mines, guarded by armed men, for years. Often, they are children, paid nothing, lucky to be fed enough. I am scared to think to what degree this is actually occuring in this day and age. Talk about jeopardizing the sacred rights of others and the mainstream doesn’t even know it.

    …and so as I Iearn to live in the balance of what brings God joy and what pleasures might I enjoy (without harm to others), I say, “Here I am Lord, show me the way.”

    Visions of living in sackcloth woven on my own loom, made of my own jute, grown in my garden, might help in my avoiding sinning against my enslaved brother but is God calling me to something more difficult?

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