Category Archives: Hedonistic Paradox

Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 2

To read Soul-Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 1
This is Part 2.

2 Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Our teeth come in pairs. She still has her pairs. She has all of her teeth. That was a big deal 3,000 years ago. This doesn’t just suggest good hygiene; it suggests maturity as well. Solomon is not robbing the cradle! She’s past the baby teeth stage with huge gaps that are common between teeth. She’s smiling at him and her teeth are clean and smooth. Smiling is a woman’s greatest cosmetic.

3 Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Do you know what I think? I think Sol is moving in for a kiss, that’s what I think. But he’s not in a hurry. He just takes it all in. Lips can be so sensual, their shape, the way they move when words are shared. Kisses are powerful too. Her lips were ravishing to him. He loved their color, their shape. I think he’s tracing her features with his finger, gently touching her lips while he whispers his approval and admiration. He watches her as she shapes and verbalizes her words.

There’s a touching story told from the hospitals of WWII, where a young and badly wounded soldier was brought in from a hellish week of fighting. After doing what she could for him, the nurse asked if there was anything else she could do. “Yes,” he said. “Could you just put on some lipstick while I watch?” There’s something about the beauty of a woman that comforts and soothes the soul (Captivating, 39). This wounded soldier saw the beauty of her lips.

Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Note that the veil is still on. This guy is incredible! Talk about taking your time. Guys, pay attention here! He’s not in a hurry. And as his eyes take in the beauty of his bride, maybe for the first time due to the veil customs that women had to observe, her cheeks turn red, like pomegranate. She’s never been seen and observed like this before. He’s right there, only inches from her face now on this the beginning of their honeymoon. And she’s blushing.

The pomegranate has a red-and-white skin, which reminded the ancient poets of a blushing bride. Pomegranate is defined as a several-celled reddish berry that is about the size of an orange with a thick leathery skin and many seeds with pulpy crimson arils of tart flavor (Webster). But it’s the reddish color that’s the point of focus here. The temple wasn’t just the soft spot beside the eye, but included the cheek as well in ancient poetry (Hocking). He’s describing her cheeks and her blush of innocence. She can’t believe all the joy of this moment and she’s shy about being admired and looked at so closely, but yet she is enthralled to have captivated him so entirely. Sammy Kershaw would say, “She don’t know she’s beautiful, though time and time I’ve told her so.”

I come back to this idea of blushing. You know, I’m concerned today about the fact that we don’t blush much anymore. Young girls pretty much say and do just about anything for anyone. They don’t blush on their honeymoon because they’ve already done it all. Our culture says we should normalize immorality and in so doing, they have hollowed sex out and removed it from a sacred place. It’s something that is pervasive. “Our society is filled with people for whom the sexual relationship is one where body meets body but where person fails to meet person; where the immediate need for sexual gratification is satisfied but where the deeper need for companionship and understanding is left untouched (Buechner).” “When we bypass the soul and spirit in relationships, when we’re too familiar with sex – let it intoxicate us too young and too early and with too many – we lose its mystery and wonder (Bly).” And we don’t blush anymore.

Some of you single girls wonder why the boys get bored with you. You tell all and reveal everything in the first week of the relationship. Be mysterious. Pace your secret-sharing. No one should just waltz in and get what they want in the dating relationship. Be cool, fun, and exciting and try new things, but there are some things he shouldn’t see, should not know, and has not touched. It’s the chase of what he can’t have and doesn’t know that keeps him interested in the dating relationship. When you dish it all out on the second date, there’s nothing for him to chase after. Hold back a little. I think they call it “Peepin’ it.” If you tell everything, there’s nothing to chase after. No adventure to pursue, no challenge, no uncharted territory. You’ve dished it all out. Keep parts of your life to yourself. And when you get married, it’s OK if you blush. You’ll have a lifetime to explore and do things with your husband and reveal all the secrets that you hold. A guy can get sex from any weak or needy girl that’s crushing on him. You become old hat after a few months. And he probably won’t remember your name in 7 years. Girls today give up way too much information. It should take the guy months to get to know you. Easy girls are not keepers. They are a temporary fix until the right one comes along. If he stops chasing, it means he doesn’t really like you or he’s not man enough to keep pursuing – either way you find out what you need to know. And, guys, if you tell your girlfriend that if she gives up too much too quick then you will get bored and walk away, I guarantee you that she will stop. A fast win means the game is over way too quickly (with help from Lookadoo).

– To Be Continued –

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Filed under Beauty, Christian Worldview, Dating, Daughters, Femininity, Hedonistic Paradox, Human Being, Love, Lust, Masculinity, Pleasure, Pornography, Romance, Sacred Romance, Sex, Sexual Addiction

Every Joy on Earth is an Inkling, a Whisper of a Greater Joy

We think that our greatest problem is pain and suffering. Indeed, it can be gut-wrenching, but it’s not our biggest problem. Our problem is that we have achieved what we thought would make us happy, and yet we remain unsatisfied. G. K. Chesterton observed that weariness does not come from being weary of pain but from being weary of pleasure. We’ve tried everything we can try in life, and still we are restless.

Deep within the human heart throbs an undying hope that somebody or something will bring a way to retain the wonder of living a fully alive, multisensory life experience, even in the pain and who will not disappoint. The presence of wealth is no protection against the ravages of the soul. Emptiness still stalks the rich, loneliness still haunts the icon, and disappointment still casts its shadow amidst the cheers under the spotlight (Zacharias), and the “liberated new atheist” is no more satisfied than the least informed Christian Theist.

Oscar Wilde was a literary genius – a poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. I have a book of quotations taken from his works. He was one sharp guy. Born in 1854, he won scholarships and was educated in Britain’s best schools. He had earned lots of money and traveled around the world. Yet, at life’s end at the age of forty-six, he died bankrupt and broken with no self-respect due to poor homosexual moral choices he made.

He says “I ruined myself…” He talked about the notoriety and natural gifts that had been given him. “…But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease… Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search of a new sensation… I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me… I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop… I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace.”

I think we have learned to deal with pain and suffering. What has mastered us though, are these long periods of “senseless and sensual ease” and yet we are not satisfied. Questions of pain and suffering will always plague mankind until the New Creation. But an even greater question is “Why do we remain unsatisfied among blessing and plenty?”

The reason we remain unsatisfied is because we have made a mistake in what we thought would satisfy. Every joy on earth is an inkling, a whisper of a greater joy, but they are not ends in themselves. All of our pleasures point to a Pleasure-Giver. Our life-long nostalgia is a longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we feel cut off. And that something is actually a Someone. Until He becomes our greatest pleasure, pain and suffering will still perplex and long periods of sensual ease will be our psuedo-joy. We are far too easily pleased when infinite joy is offered.

C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not mean the universe is a fraud…earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing (The Quotable Lewis).”

The Hedonistic Paradox states that true pleasure is a by-product of a greater pleasure. Until God is our greatest pleasure, unsatisfied senseless and sensual ease will be the lines along which our story moves. All those who refuse or deny God His existence relegate themselves to only the whispers or echoes of a Voice of the One who eventually provides the ultimate fulfillment of all sensory delight.

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Filed under Atheism, Christian Worldview, Hedonistic Paradox, Pleasure, Suffering, Theism, Theodicy, Uncategorized

Every Human Desire (for Sex, Food, Pleasure) is Right – When Played In Proper Time and Place

It’s important to acknowledge that every human desire is right when it’s played in its proper time and within healthy parameters. It’s right to be hungry, but not be a glutton. It’s right to desire intimacy and sexual relationship, but not to consume someone for your pleasure alone. It’s right to renew and recreate, but not to be given to laziness and sloth. It’s right to love your work, but not to be a workaholic. It’s right to acquire things, but not to serve things. God has given us human desires that are right and good.

I like what C. S. Lewis said. He said that there are no wrong and right keys on a piano. Every key is right when it’s played in the proper harmony and time. Then Lewis makes this application. There are no wrong physical desires. Every desire is God-given and it is beautiful when played or fulfilled at the proper time (Mere Christianity). The goal is not necessarily to resist pleasure and desires; it is to play them in their proper time (Storms, Pleasures… 9).

God made you with certain human desires embedded in your nature. He made you to desire food, to work for things, to belong to a family, to own and steward possessions, to have close, intimate relationships, to experience the emotions of love and happiness. In fact, He wants you to enjoy food, relationships, your work, your things, your family, your life, your recreation, your sexuality. God loves it when you have a great time. He doesn’t get ticked off when you really enjoy doing something that you have a desire to do. But you must play these “desire-notes” at their proper time and with a proper duration in order to make something harmonious of your life. In theology, we talk about sin being a distortion and a perversion of the good. God has provided you with boundaries to help you know how to play these “piano keys of desire.”

God’s boundaries on our desires are not there to repress us but to show forth the true glory of being a fully alive human being. God doesn’t hem us in to repress us or to keep something good from you; it is to preserve the glory in each of us by fulfilling our God-given desires in their proper time and place. God invites us into wholeness when He tells us how to fulfill our desires in and through Him.

God says…

“I want you to have sex because it’s good, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, this gift is going to become distorted and perverted. The intimacy you seek will not be found unless you use this gift the way I have prescribed.” We want to play this note in all the wrong places at all the wrong times in all the wrong ways. In doing so, we cheapen it, hollow it out, and it becomes so much less of a gift.

“I want you to enjoy great meals, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you compromise your health and your body.” We want to use food for comfort, not for health. We are a society driven by our hunger and cravings. Paul said in one place that “Your god is your belly.” (Philippians 3:19; Romans 16:18). You are a slave to your drives and appetites.

“I want you to rest and re-energize, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you spend your life doing nothing, squandering opportunities to make a true difference.” We want to use all of our time to serve our own agenda, but when it comes to God and making an eternal difference, we embrace passivity. Jesus worked hard, but at times he would separate himself from the crowds so as to reenergize for his work. Jesus said to his disciples “Come apart for a while lest you come apart (Mark 6:31).”

“I want you to know the joy of loving and being loved. Here’s how to do that. Otherwise, if you demand that people love you on your terms, you’ll be all about anger and revenge.” We want others to bow to us and meet our needs and make us happy. If they don’t, look out, because anger and revenge will become our life mantra. We’ll worry, grumble, complain, and get bitter. The Proverb writer said “Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” Paul taught to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26) and not to seek revenge.

“I want you to have things, but here is how I want you to view them.” We want to have more than others and our god is all that we can acquire. God told the rich man who built bigger and better barns to the neglect of his own soul “You fool (Luke 12:20).” Jesus said “Seek first my kingdom (Matthew 6:33).”

We intentionally fulfill our desires in our own selfish way, sabotaging and undermining the way things are suppose to be. Our core problem says St. Augustine is that “the human heart, ignoring God, turns in on itself, tries to lift itself, wants to please itself, and ends up debasing itself.” By his own admission, St. Augustine had taken a mistress, fathered a child out of wedlock, and indulged in every fleshly passion. Augustine also said the only reason you think a baby is good is that he hasn’t got power enough to show you whose boss. He said if a baby had the strength when he emerged from his mother’s womb, he would seize the mother by the throat and demand his milk. It’s in our nature to set out to meet our own needs in our own way from an early age.

Sin (life apart from God) has penetrated and taken up residence in the inner sanctuary of our hearts, twisting, fracturing, distorting, and corrupting. Rather than opening up our hearts to the One who can make them new, we run to the sins we love, blinded to the truth and chained to the illusion that I am god and I can live my life and fulfill my desires the way I want to. We hide behind the sins we love – the things that give us pleasure, totally oblivious to what it is doing to us in the bigger scheme of things. The problem is not that people pursue pleasure. The problem is that they rebelliously and foolishly refuse to find pleasure in the one place where it may be genuinely found.

I encourage you to feel your God-given desires and fulfill them in ways that God has prescribed. His boundaries around our desires has a way of actually intensifying our desires and making their fulfillment even more sublime.

Do you want to enjoy great sex? Then use your sexuality in a way that God has prescribed; don’t give this part of yourself to just anyone or any pleasure-option. If you build in constraints around your sexuality, it becomes more meaningful.

Do you want to really enjoy food and eating great meals? Then make sure that eating is enjoyed to sustain you rather than just entertain you when you’re bored.

Do you want to experience pleasure? Then find a greater pleasure.

The Hedonistic Paradox states that in order to find true pleasure, one must have a greater pleasure (hedonism means pleasure and a paradox is truth standing on its head to get our attention). This simply means that if we make anything the sole source of our pleasure (except God), then we will never be satisfied. Stated positively: All the things that you think will bring you the pleasure you seek can actually bring a measure of genuine joy when you are not looking to these pleasures to be your everything. When we make another human being, food, sex, achievement, etc… our greatest pleasure, it is sure to let you down. But when you have a Greater Pleasure that you give your life too, then these other ancillary pleasures can actually be seen and enjoyed for what they were intended to be.

God wants to be your “Greater Pleasure”. It’s in Him that we have all of our human desires intensified; and that we find our “smaller pleasures” perfectly fulfilled in the “larger pleasure” of connection and intimacy with God. So if you want to know true pleasure, find a Greater Pleasure; otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied. And having found this Greater Pleasure, play your God-given desires in their proper time, with the right duration and frequency, and you are sure to create a life of beautiful music.

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