Why do people look at porn? The answer is simple: Because it feels good. It brings us some sort of pleasure. We are pleasure-driven creatures.
A few months ago I had the privilege of talking with Gary Thomas, author of numerous books on spirituality, marriage, and family. His latest book, Pure Pleasure, talks about how Christians are designed by God to actually pursue, not run from, pleasure. Often, because pleasure is associated with sin (like lust), Christians can often be suspicious of anything that feels good. Gary, on the other hand, encourages Christians to be intentional about pursuing the best pleasures.
He told me why this pursuit of pleasure has been a help to him personally:
“There are three things that this whole concept of accepting pleasure as something good did for me. It built in me a much stronger heart of worship. I found occasions to be moved toward worship throughout the day, when I didn’t view worship as something only a response to a religious activity, but, as James would say, embracing that every good gift is from above, from the Father.
“Secondly, I think it gave me great help building enriching relationships. I think marriages break down when husbands and wives stop enjoying each other, when parents and children become utilitarian in their relationships, and parents see the kids as projects, and kids see the parents as ATM machines and taxi drivers. When they stop spending pleasurable time together that relationship is strained.
“And third, I found it a big help in sin management. . . . When I can embrace the good things that God provides, when I would think intentionally about what’s a healthy, appropriate, soul-building pleasure, then, to be quite honest, past issues didn’t even come to mind.” (Listen to the whole interview here)
It is of course possible to make pleasure our god, to become “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). But when our highest pleasure is God Himself, and when every wholesome, earthly pleasure becomes a catalyst for worshiping the One who created them, we get a taste of “the joy of our master” that Jesus speaks about (Matthew 25:23).
How about you? Have you ever intentionally pursued a wholesome pleasure to move away from sinful pleasure?