I just finished reading Ravi Zacharias’ Why Jesus? Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality, and I found his thoughts on pleasure interesting. This was especially more insightful when compared and contrasted to the problem of pain:
Although I agree that the problem of pain may be one of the greatest challenges of faith in God, I dare suggest that it is the problem of pleasure that more often drives us to think of spiritual things. Sexuality, greed, fame, and momentary thrills are actually the most precarious attractions in the world.
Pain forces us to accept our finitude. It can breed cynicism, weariness and fatigue in just living. Pain sends us in search of a greater power. Introspection, superstition, ceremony, and vows can all come as a result of pain. But disappointment in pleasure is a completely different thing. While pain can often be seen as a means to a greater end, pleasure is seen as an end in itself. And when pleasure has run its course, a sense of despondency can creep into one’s soul that may often lead to self-destruction.
Pain can often be temporary; but disappointment in pleasure gives rise to emptiness… not just for a moment, but for life. There can seem to be no reason to life, no pre-configured purpose, if even pleasure brings no lasting fulfillment. The truth is that I have known people who in the peak of their success have turned to God, and I have known others, drowning in pain and defeat, who seek God for an answer.
Either extreme leaves haunting questions. God alone knows how we will respond to either.
The struggle between pain and pleasure gives spirituality a more defined goal. People in pain may look for comfort and explanations. people disappointed in pleasure look for purpose.
Get the book, it may not be the easiest read (especially the first half), but it has many nutritious nuggets.
One thought on “Ravi Zacharias on the Problem of Pleasure”
I like how this wasnt some polemic on the evil that is pleasure and a romanticism of pain as a teleological good… I like this thought the most,”Either extreme leaves haunting questions. God alone knows how we will respond to either. “