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The Pursuit of Pleasure

Frank Jamerson

   This week, we are continuing to quote from “The Question of God,” written by Dr. Armand M. Nicholl, Jr., which contrasts the teachings of Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis. (If you did not read last week’s bulletin, be sure to read it. 

   In the chapter entitled “Sex - Is the Pursuit of Pleasure Our Only Purpose?”, the author said: “Freud and Lewis wrote extensively about sexuality. Freud said that when you look at people’s behavior, their one purpose in life is to be happy and that ‘sexual love…(is) the prototype of all happiness.’ Lewis strongly disagreed. He believed there are other, more lasting sources of happiness. Satisfaction of the desire for sex, like satisfaction of the desire for food, is only one of many God-given pleasures. He considered Freud much too preoccupied with sex.”

   The author of this book said: “Half of all marriages end in divorce. From my clinical practice of many years and my research on young adults who come from divorced families, I can say unequivocally that a great deal of unhappiness in our society results from failure to understand the distinction between being in love (Eros) and loving in the deeper sense (Agape). The majority of couples that come to my office contemplating divorce come because one of them has fallen in love with someone else. That person claims they no longer are in love with their spouse. The husband (or the wife) met someone at work and came to feel those wonderful feelings that were once felt toward the spouse—of being in love. Mistaking the feeling of being in love as the only basis for a relationship and the only source of real happiness, the person sees no reason for staying in the marriage. He (or she) fails to realize that the feeling of being in love in the new relationship will also inevitably change, so that he may find himself once more in love with yet another person. A high percentage of second marriages end in divorce.”

   The author said: “both Freud and Lewis agree that for the well-being of both the individual and society, sexual impulses need to be controlled. Their reasons, however, differ considerably. Freud argues that civilization imposes certain restrictions on the individual to maintain social order. This causes the individual to be discontent and less than happy. Lewis argues that the moral law comes from a Creator who loves us and desires our happiness. Following that law will help  us to love more effectively and, therefore, to be more happy.”

   The author said that when Lewis entered Oxford University, “whatever restraints he imposed on his sexual life did not arise from his conscience.” Lewis wrote of his early college years, “I was as nearly without a moral conscience as a boy could be.” As a soldier, Lewis wrote, that he did not “waste money on prostitutes, restaurants and tailors, as the gentiles do...You  will be surprised and, I expect, not a little amused to hear that my views at present are getting almost monastic about all the lusts of the flesh. But he made it clear that his reasons for refraining from such behavior were not on moral or spiritual grounds...He feared that he might become ill physically or emotionally.”

   Some of Lewis’ fellow students, who also became believers, said that before their conversion their sexual experiences were a desperate attempt to overcome their loneliness. “After their conversion experience, they attempted, like Lewis, to live the strict biblical standard of chastity or marriage with complete fidelity. Though this severe restriction conflicted strong with their past behavior, and with current mores, they found these clear-cut boundaries less confusing than no boundaries at all and helpful in relating to members of the opposite sex ‘as persons rather than sexual objects.’”

   That sounds a whole lot like first Corinthians 6:13-20, doesn’t it!


                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014    This page last modified July 03, 2014