Sigmund, Clive Staples, and John Part 2
Freud said that people's thoughts are dominated by the pleasure principle. This is at the forefront or our minds throughout our existence. Lewis saw the primary purpose in a man's life to be his need to establish a relationship with his Creator. It is only within the confines of this relationship that we can experience happiness. “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” Without this essential connection in our lives, any other attempt on our parts "...to invent some sort of happiness for themselves apart from God" will be futile. Man may seek happiness in marriage, education, employment opportunities, and sexual encounters. But this happiness will continue to be sought after time and time again with minimal satisfaction. Freud is a perfect example of this endless cycle. He even turned to cocaine as an attempt to lift his spirits and give himself a reason for living. But he would be the last person to say his life was defined by happiness. On one occasion, Freud discussed the elusiveness of his happiness by saying that every time "...you think you already have it in your grasp and it is already gone again."
Freud, and countless others, spend their entire lives searching for the one vice to fill the hole inside of them. They never think to look at God as the object to fulfill this longing. They believe that with God, you must toe this invisible line. God is viewed by so many as the cyber cop in the sky. God would never want us to enjoy these things that the world looks to for pleasure-sex, drugs, and alcohol. God would want us to wear our pretty little outfits and sit with our hands folded in our laps and become little puppets for the great puppeteer in the sky. Most of mankind would probable agree that if that is what Christianity is all about, who in their right mind would want to "buy into" that? It really would be the mentally insane or the feeble minded who called themselves Christians as Freud so often said.
So say this little prim and proper picture is Christianity. What kind of God would that be? This God would have created us with the innate desire and capability to feel happiness and pleasure and enjoy this sexual experience. But then, in order to love him and know him and BE loved by him and BE known by him, we would have to deny ourselves these pleasures and instead become a shell of our former selves? This does not seem to be a very loving or kind or all powerful God. A powerful God would be one who could take those humanly desires and form them in such a way that that can simultaneously bring glory to him and still fulfill our humanly desire for pleasure.
So either our desires will bring happiness to us AND glory to God or those desires will be removed by God. If we are delighting ourselves in the Lord, he promises that he will give us the desires of our hearts. Why then, can one not find happiness in these things apart from this relationship with God? "Lewis warns that although 'all pleasures and happiness is in its own nature good, and God wishes us to enjoy it, He does not, however, wish us to enjoy it without relation to Him, still less to prefer it to him." If one tries to love his wife without loving God he will find it to be an impossible task at times. Logically then, it would seem even harder to love God AND to love his wife because now his love capabilities are being split between two entities. The opposite is in fact true. "When we have learned to love God better than our earthly dearest, we shall love our earthly dearest better than we do now. In so far as we learn to love our earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, we shall be moving towards that state in which we shall not love our earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased." Christ himself said that any man who would lose his life for Christ's sake would find it. If we deny and die to our desire for happiness outside of God, he will bring to us a greater and more magnificent happiness than we could have ever imagined or created apart from him.
Somehow, Christianity has become a religion of unselfishness and this unselfishness does not involve doing good to others but instead doing "...without them [pleasure] ourselves." It is as if we believe God would be more pleased with the repressing of pleasure than in his child's happiness. "If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
...to be continued....