The Problem of Pleasure (pt. 3)
The Real Problem Is Pleasure
Troubled by the non-problem of pain, most people do not feel the real problem. The real difficulty is the problem of pleasure. While in a sinful world, pain is to be expected, and pleasure is not to be expected. We should be constantly amazed at the presence of pleasure in a world such as ours.
It is easy to understand why this confusion has come about. Pain is a painful subject. Pleasure is a pleasurable subject. People do not like pain. They do like pleasure. And people associate problems with what they do not like. Because they do not like pain, they call it a problem.
The fact is that pain is no problem, whereas pleasure is an excruciating problem; and if one ever begins to think about that it can become intolerable. How could there be pleasure in a sinful world? People do not like thinking about pleasure in such a light because then they must admit their own sinfulness.
On the other hand, there is a kind of relief from pain in viewing it as an undeserved problem. We imply that the blame for our affliction lies elsewhere. That soothes our pain a little by assuring us that we do not deserve such misery. But if pain is a non-problem, it is so because we deserve punishment. Calling it a “non-problem” is a frank admission that we are sinners and, therefore, may not complain about it.
So when we call pain a problem, we claim we do not deserve it. We are even prepared to scuttle God to maintain our own innocence. We will say that God is not able to do what He would like, or He would never permit persons such as ourselves to suffer. That puffs up our egos and soothes our griefs at the same time. “How could God do this to me?’’ is at once an admission of pain and a soporific for it. It reduces our personal grief by eradicating the deity. Drastic medicine, indeed, that only a human ego, run wild, could possibly imagine.
To be continued…
Excerpted from Primitive Theology by John H. Gerstner.