The Less Boundaries, the More Pleasure! Wait, What!?
Marriage seems so restrictive. Why can I only have sex with one person for the rest of my life when there’s so many people out there who could add to my excitement and pleasure? And who on earth are you to tell me what can and can’t make me happy? Seriously! Get out of my business, and let me be free to do what I want!
How cheating affects the cheater is profound. Her/his actions hurt them, their marriages, and all their other important relationships.…It’s common for [those who cheat] to feel anxiety, guilt, shame, worry, regret, confusion, embarrassment, and self-loathing when they contemplate how their actions impact those they love and why they cheated in the first place.
Portion sizes are such a joke! Why would I limit what I eat when I love this food so much? It’s rich and delicious, and yeah, I want a lot of it. So what? It makes me feel good. And if I keep eating like I’m eating, what’s it to you?
While sugar has long been known to serve as being detrimental to health, eating too much can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
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And in a related vein, combined with other things, this post gets dark real fast…
Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.
Do boundaries really restrict our pleasure?
That is the question. Would we be at all happier creatures if we, for example, suddenly abandoned our spouses and plunged into unrestrained, unlimited intimacy with whomever we wanted? …In reality, would we not instead find ourselves empty, alone, and dragging chains of relational hell wherever we went—unquestionably hating ourselves in the end? Hmm. There, friends, is a very real-life picture of pleasure without boundaries! Isn’t it pretty? Don’t you want it? But you don’t like to be restricted, right!? Remember, “boundaries get in the way”? Get in the way of…oh wait…pain?
Good boundaries get in the way of pain.
Genesis 1:1: In the beginning, God…
In the beginning, God created everything. And He made it all very good. That actually means that He made everything perfect. Adam and Eve were in a paradise of paradises, completely surrounded—if not absolutely enveloped!—by every pleasure! And it was good!!! Not bad! Good! And why was it good? Because, having access to every kind of pleasure and being welcomed to enjoy all of it freely, they yet kept themselves from being ruled by pleasure. Their King was God.
As Paul Tripp repeatedly stresses in his book Sex & Money, “a desire for even a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing” (Tripp 66). But for Adam and Eve, nothing ever became bad for them, because only God ruled!
Because this is so important, I will say it again in more detail…
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived according to the design that God gave them, and in this context they enjoyed full and intimate communion with God, thrilling and satisfyingly close relationship with each other, and the added enjoyment of every good thing around them in the beautiful world in which He had placed them. Life was rich and flawless, and it glorified God in the magnification of His goodness.
Central to this life was that in all the pleasure of the Garden, God remained King of the hearts of Adam and Eve. He was their Creator, and they were His precious creatures. They trusted Him completely, and trusted that He knew best. Before Satan came into the picture, never once did they question God! They enjoyed all that He gave them, but enjoying Him the most, they never even once considered enjoying any of His gifts past their proper bounds. Such a thing would have never even crossed their minds! They were completely satisfied in Him, and so they had no reason to hunt for more satisfaction in anything else. There was therefore never any temptation for them to take more fruit than they could eat, or to want more of each other than they were meant to give, or anything else of the sort, for they lacked absolutely nothing, since God was their King and their best Friend, and in giving Himself to them He had given them everything! In willing their good and loving them perfectly, His design was unquestionably good in their hearts (and it was indeed unquestionably good!).
After their heart-wrenching Fall in the presence of Satan, however, their paradisiacal life was painfully, utterly shattered; and the entire world has been in ruins ever since (except for the incarnation and Fall-reversing sacrifice and work of the Redeemer, the Son of God, and the presence and work of His Spirit in everyone who has believed in Him!!!).
So what was the reason for Adam and Eve’s Fall? Being influenced by Satan, Eve (and Adam through her) ceased to believe that God had their best in mind. In other words, they ceased to believe that God loved them perfectly. And in this unbelief, they no longer saw the boundaries He had given them as pleasure-protecting boundaries, but pleasure-restricting boundaries. No longer believing that He loved them fully, they immediately entertained the thought that He was keeping something good from them (something He would have never done!), and they therefore disobeyed the one rule that He had given them. In all of this they sinned, and the world has never been the same.
The ultimate reason for their Fall was not that they crossed the only explicit boundary that God had given them, but rather because they stopped believing the truth about the character of God. Yet this resulted in them crossing the clear boundary that God had given them for their good. And here we are reminded again that good boundaries don’t get in the way of pleasure; good boundaries get in the way of pain. Furthermore, every boundary that comes from God is good.
So, to be directly practical, how does this affect us now? In this present world to which Jesus Christ has already come, and for which He died as an atoning sacrifice and rose again as an omnipotent Conquerer and Savior and Life-Giver, how are we to live? What are we to do if we are to learn from Adam and Even throughout our present lives? If we are under God’s grace through faith in His Son Jesus, how now shall we live? How shall we approach pleasure, since God in His grace still gives us gifts in this world?
My thoughts on this question of pleasure are actually quite simple:
I suggest that, being enabled by His grace, we must first and foremost seek to believe and trust in the true character of God. It is only when we are believing the truth about God and how great His love is for us that we will understand and view every boundary He gives us through His Word as pleasure-preserving and not pleasure-restricting. Then and only then will we be able to fulfill the second part of our call concerning pleasure, which is to actually walk within the boundaries that God has given us in His Word, knowing that each and every one of them is an expression of love toward us by our great and wonderful God and Father.
And as we live and grow by His grace, we shall approach every good pleasure with increasing understanding of how we may enjoy it without being ruled by it, being instead ruled by God alone and worshiping Him all the more fully through it!
Tripp, Paul David. Sex & Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies. Crossway, 2013.