The problem with pleasure is that it’s mostly about taking. We use people and things to find happiness, no matter how short-lived. And the problem with religious people is that they don’t offer anything better. They’ve defined themselves not by what they’re for but by what they’re against. So religious “pleasure” is supposed to come from taking away the taking. We don’t smoke. We don’t drink. We don’t have sex outside of marriage. We don’t get abortions or believe in evolution. We don’t buy stuff on Sundays. And we criticize people who do, trying to take away what little pleasure they have.
It’s a vicious circle that leaves the religious even emptier than the “worldly.”
Of course, my argument is simplistic. Everybody experiences true pleasure at least once in life — huddled around a warm campfire on a cold night, a first kiss, the thrill of accomplishment, a word of praise. But it is rare to find someone who knows the source of true pleasure. It doesn’t come from breaking the rules, and it doesn’t come from following the rules, either. True pleasure comes from discovering what you were created to be and being just that — nothing more, nothing less. True pleasure comes from finding a place of satisfaction, a place of belonging, a place of clear identity, a place that is true. When you find that place where you can just be yourself, then you are finally free to give (instead of just taking). And it is in the act of giving that we find everything we need.
Give away money, and you escape from financial need. Give of your time, and you escape from the rat-race mentality that rules American society. Give up control, and you escape from burdensome responsibilities. Give up on trying to maintain your reputation, and you find freedom to be yourself. Give away love, and the world responds.
Give up on trying to maintain your reputation, and you find freedom to be yourself. Give away love, and the world responds.