17 August, 2009

The Problem of Pleasure.

I am reading Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" so expect some posts on it because it is what's going on in my brain most days. In the intro Max Lucado talks about how when Chesterton started considering the problem of pain he ended at the problem of pleasure. Lucado writes, "He (Chesterton) 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 basic human acts as sex, childbirth and artistic creation." Chesteron began to suspect that as the Christian community had been asked to give an account for the problem of pain, why bad things happen to good people and injustice exists, that the atheist should be expected to explain, "the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness."

You can't have it both ways. You can't say that we came out of nothing and expect that to cover the fact that good things exist and not bad. You can't claim what is convenient and thrust the rest of a God you don't want to think about any other time expect to blame when bad stuff happens. We have let things become turned on their head! Suddenly God has to justify the bad but cannot claim the good! We let the world attribute its suffering, toil, and hardships to God and keep the love, joy and beauty for itself. We take away the consequence of sin, greed, corruption, selfishness and materialism (aka man) and silence the glory and supremacy of God.

In the words of Paul, friends this cannot be! God created the world and said it was good. He made everything lovely and wonderful, pleasurable, etc. in this world and we messed it up. We introduced sin - not the other way around. Read Genesis 1 and 2 - God created this world in intimacy and delight and said it was good. He passed down things like love, like sex, like relationship to bring glory back to Himself. He is the God of creation and beauty - He is not a God of pain, we did that on our own. And the church needs to stop hemming and hawing for an answer to why crap happens (a) because we let it, b) because man is sinful, c) ultimately everyone is crying out for a Savior and while the church is busy fighting over bake sale products little girls are being abused around the world (aka the distraction and silence of the church) and make the world tell us why good occurs. Science can explain why the sun rises - but it cannot explain adequately why it is so beautiful or why is takes our breath away. Why do we appreciate beauty? Why are people drawn to a child's laugh? Look at how many different kinds of birds there are - science can explain why some have long wings, some have short, some can see at night, etc. but they cannot explain their color, the beauty of their voices, why they behave in ways that make us stop and watch. Again there is a contradiction - you expect me to believe that the universe exploded one day and we got all this? Why do birds have color? Because Someone enjoyed creating them and knew that when we looked at them we would (should) see His glory.

Chesterton said, "We (the church) must demonstrate where good gifts actually come from and why they are good." And make the world account for the evil and misuse of His beauty.

The most obvious example of this is sex - but I will write about that another day. For now, let me say look at Christ - how He lived, what He enjoyed, how He told us to live. Now contrast that with what the world says is good, what we would strive for, how we should be. Then tell me who is responsible for good and who for evil. It's not about judgement, goodness knows that is the last thing the church needs more of, instead reclaiming what is ours by example. It's being full of love of justice of truth and using that to attract people back to their Creator. It's standing firm in the fact that we serve and love a God who said "My creation is good" and created the beauty within it. It's saying that we are tired of justifying your sin back to you. It is not the church's (or God's) fault that people sleep around, or get drunk every night, or people live in poverty, or that a little girl somewhere is being taken advantage of. Those things are not God's fault. It's mine and yours and the world that chooses to pursue money and wealth and momentary pleasure (false pleasure) instead of justice and love and servanthood. Maybe it's time we asked the world why bad things happen to good people and how they can allow the Congo and Sri Lanka, pornography and adultery and abuse to happen. And maybe it's because some people in the church are willing to say "being a drunkard is bad" that we are asked to explain it. But again, the logic fails. We have a morality that says porn is wrong, the world thinks its okay, and yet Christians are asked to say why 18 year old women are exploited, but then we can can't say porn is bad - we are asked to answer a test where logic does not apply!

Where does man enter into this? Where does personal responsibilty come into play. You want to know why women are raped because the world has done a pathetic job at fully understanding and living out the full worth of Eve. The world has said, since the Fall, that women are below man and we live in the repercussion of that mentality. But look at Genesis 2:18,21 - she is a helper - not below, or beneath or stupider or subservant - equal - helper! Woman came out of man but nowhere in the text does it say that man is superior to woman. We are made differently but one cannot survive without the other.

I am so tired of people complaining about the problem of pain and yet doing nothing to stop it. But how can you care about people or pursue justice or fight for the "least of these" unless there is a moral compass telling you that she has dignity.

Look at Israel, look at how God told them to live verses how they chose to live. The minute Moses left them they built idols and looked for the easy way out. God said love others, free the slaves, don't abuse the widow or orphan, welcome the poor. That is who God is - and would He have had to say those things if it was in our nature to do it? No! So why do we allow the world to claim the goodness of this earth when it is God who made it? You cannot hate my God and love nature - that is a contradiction. You cannot claim He does not exist and then blame Him for Katrina. It does not work. And, in love Christians need to say that and realize that if we are asked to go to the logical conclusion on why evil exists (though the logical conclusion leads us to the Fall, so most people just like to stop at "God made man in His own image" and never get to the fact that we threw it back in His face) the world needs to go to the logical conclusion of why good does - and, again, it cannot be because the universe exploded or man is inherently good (watch the news to see that is a fallacy) and realize something higher does exist and He is the only thing that can fill our desire for good or beauty because He Is those things.

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