The Pleasure Principle

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While completing a wildly practical Bachelor of Arts degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland I took a few psychology courses as electives. This obviously qualifies me to speak to the masses concerning the psychoanalytic phenomenon known as the pleasure principle.

Of course, several years have passed since my university days so I do confess to having refreshed my memory by visiting dictionary.com. The pleasure principle is there defined as “the idea that psychological processes and actions are governed by the gratification of needs. It is seen as the governing process of the id, whereas the reality principle is the governing process of the ego: see also hedonism.”

Observe the phrase: “see also hedonism,” referring of course to the teaching that pleasure or happiness represents the highest good for humanity. Therefore, we should pursue pleasure at all costs. We should live for it. Spend our money on it. Sacrifice our children on its altars.

The trouble with pleasure is that it’s just so pleasing. It feels good. It’s opposite would seem to be pain or torment or general unpleasantness. Who wants that? Sin is tempting because it promises us this fairly immediate, though temporary, reward of pleasure. Sin initially gratifies something within us. Something dark and sinister perhaps, but nevertheless it seems to satisfy that certain something.

Hebrews 11:25 tells us that Moses choose to suffer mistreatment with God’s people rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. So let’s say two roads were before him. He had to choose which one to travel. One promised pleasure. The other was marked with suffering. Why on God’s green earth would he chose the later road?

Let me offer two good reasons? Firstly, he knew the pleasures of sin were fleeting. They would quickly vanish into thin air, like money often does from my bank accounts. Devastating consequences would follow Moses choice to sin, as they inevitably do.

Secondly, Moses knew that the suffering was fleeting too. Just as the pleasure wouldn’t last, neither would the suffering. Right choices always get rewarded, even if the immediate result is suffering. Bad choices will always get punished, even if the immediate result is pleasure. Moses understood this. Hebrews 11:26 tells us that Moses, “regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Did you catch that? Moses knew his initial suffering wasn’t the full story. Eventually, he would be rewarded for his choice to serve God. It’s too bad more people didn’t grasp this truth today.

Now when I say this about reward and suffering I’m not really factoring in God’s grace and mercy. God can and often does turn this entire process upside down by forgiving people and giving them what they don’t deserve (grace) and withholding from them what they do deserve (mercy). We don’t deserve heaven but we get it, that’s grace. We deserve hell but we don’t get it, that’s mercy. We all need the grace and mercy of God, which is why I pray for it every day. You might want to consider doing the same.

Life consists of a myriad of choices. We make choices about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the education we obtain, the person we marry. But the most right choice we can ever make is the choice to believe in Jesus Christ. Not just to believe some things about Him but to believe everything the bible says about Him, from Genesis to Revelation.

According to Jesus Himself the simple choice to believe in Him carries the greatest reward of all. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47) Can it really be that simple? Believe in Jesus and have everlasting life? Well, try it and see what happens. Read a little bit about Him every day. Find out everything you can about Him. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. I think you’ll find that the rewards of seeking Him are truly out of this world.

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5 Benefits of Sexual Immorality

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If you feel constrained by the chains of moral purity, fear not. I’m here to help. Most people have already found freedom from the clutches of commitment based living. But not everybody. Apparently, the world still has a few prudes who think sex is about something other than unbridled passion. If you’re a prude (as in excessively proper or modest in speech, conduct or dress) I have good news. You can change. You can overcome your prudishness. You too can hop on the bandwagon of moral filth. To that end I’ve compiled a brief list of some of the benefits of living like a libertine.

​(For those of you who don’t spend a lot of time on dictionary.com, a libertine is “a person who is morally or sexually unrestrained”.) And now the list.

1. It feels good.
God created sex to be a pleasurable experience. His original intention was for the pleasure to be enjoyed within the bonds of matrimony. Humanity has since discovered, however, that the matrimony part is totally optional. You can still enjoy the pleasure of the act without the commitment and baggage of being hitched to the same person for life.

2. You may not get a sexually transmitted disease.
Studies prove that not everybody who is sexually immoral winds up with Venereal diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitus, Herpes, or Gonorrhea. Some escape it. That said, there is a possibility you still may get one of these diseases but isn’t it worth the risk though? If you’re still worried about this just keep focussing on point 1 above.

3. The gospel could be a farce and you might not wind up in hell afterall.
Many “intelligent” people still believe the gospel is a myth. Even if they’re wrong and you wind up tormented in the lake of fire for all of eternity, at least you got to enjoy a few years of uninhibited pleasure. To be sure, eternity is an awfully long time but if you just block it out of your mind somewhow then it need not interfere with your current hedonistic lifestyle. Which really brings me to my next point.

4. You have an excuse to drink more and do more drugs.
Sexually immorality still carries an element of guilt and shame for many. No worries. This is precisely why we have drugs and alcohol. Both help numb the effects of guilt, at least temporarily. Admittedly, no long term solution outside the gospel has yet been found for the guilt problem but what of it? I mean, who really cares about long-term stuff. Remember point 1 above.

5. You can make money from it. 
If you really enjoy fornication then you might want to consider one of many exciting career options that pay really well: prostitute, stripper, porn star. You may very well destroy your soul in the process but at least you’re getting rich. But if you’re still not convinced, I refer you again to point 1 above.

So throw off the shackles. Chances are your peers are already doing it so what’s stopping you? And if you’re concerned that moral looseness might mess with your marriage let me further encourage you. Some psychiatrists teach that an adulterous affair or two is actually good for your marriage. But if the “professionals” are wrong they are wrong. Isn’t it worth the risk? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? A broken marriage? Messed up kids? A lost eternity?

Please, if you’re not going to focus exclusively on point 1 above then I see no point in carrying on this discussion. Just because Moses choose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin doesn’t mean we all have to follow his example? (see Hebrews 11:25 for more about that) Remember, Moses was an example of faith, not fun. Of course, having faith doesn’t mean you can’t have fun but we can’t discuss that now because it doesn’t really support my overall thesis. In fact, it has the potential to blow my entire argument to the moon and back. Speaking of the moon, have you ever tried worshipping it? Never mind, I’ll save that idea for another blog.

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Frisky Business

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I was reading an article recently called The Christian Porn Star.
I know what you’re thinking. Actually, I don’t know what you’re thinking and that’s probably a good thing. The article spoke of a certain lady who worked as an actress in pornographic films. Nothing earth shattering about that. But what I find somewhat shattering to the earth is that the lady calls herself an “Evangelical Christian.” She even attends church occasionally and carries her bible under her arm like any good evangelical Christian would do.

Right off the bat two questions spring to mind. 1. Does she actually read the bible she carries? 2. Does the church she attends actually preach the bible she carries? Or do they preach something else? Feel good messages would be my best guess. A dose of self-help perhaps, sprinkled with some prosperity mumbo jumbo. I would consider myself an utter failure as a preacher if somebody heard me speak week in and week out and still felt it was okay to fornicate on TV. Or even to fornicate off camera. To be fair, I rarely talk specifically about sexual immorality in church. When the average age of your congregation hovers around the 70 mark you tend to assume it’s not much of a problem.

The word fornicate in the bible actually comes from the Greek word “porneo” which sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it? If you live in Los Angeles, California you should be familiar with the word, given that over 90 per cent of all pornographic movies produced in the world come from that city. No wonder they call it the porn capital of the world. Is that something to be proud of? Or is it something to be ashamed of? I’d cast my lot with the latter.

Of course, that’s easy for me to say because I hail from a little rock in the Atlantic Ocean known as Newfoundland, Canada. As far as I know there isn’t much porn produced here. Most of the fornicating in this neck of the woods happens off camera. But it still happens. Perhaps just as much or more than anywhere else. A week or two ago, according to local news reports, officials at Memorial University of Newfoundland sent out a memo to students that basically said: “Please stop having sex in the business school.” The students were taking care of business alright. Mostly frisky business. Apparently the study rooms were being used for extracurricular activities. Suffice it to say, we’re probably no better than our neighbours to the south, even those from the legendary city of lost angels. We just don’t film our sin as much. I don’t know if that makes us smarter or dumber. It depends who you ask.

From a biblical perspective sin is never smart. Sin is always dumb, no matter how you slice it. Making money from it doesn’t justify it or remove the dumbness from it. The aforementioned celebrity is seeking to fund her college education. A noble end to be sure. But the means to the end? Far from noble if you asked me. There are plenty of legitimate ways to make money in this world. There’s no excuse for anybody to turn to quick fixes or shaddy ventures.

Perhaps there’s an element of laziness in the whole thing. Why else would a young “Christian” girl in college start engaging in sex for pay? Let’s break it down. She needs money and lots of it. By some estimates the average cost of attending college full-time in the US is around $25,000 per year. One would have to flip quite a few burgers at a fast food joint to come up with that kind of cash. She needs quick money too. Who doesn’t? Legitimate jobs often require hard work. So why not take the easy way out? Why not get paid to do something which other girls on campus are doing for free?

In the final analysis isn’t sin really just about taking the easy way out? Isn’t it easier to stroll down the broad path of pleasure and self-seeking then it is to walk the narrow road of commitment and fidelity? The problem with sin is that it’s often packaged so attractively. It promises freedom but ultimately delivers pain and regret. Sin pays. That much is true. But it’s wages are not what they initially appear to be. Romans 6:23 contains both a warning and a promise: “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The choice before all of us is between life or death. Sin produces death. Jesus gives life. We can’t have both. It’s one or the other. I hate to end on what may be construed as a condemning note but I feel compelled to allow Hebrews 13:4 to have the last say on this one: “Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

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