Why is sex fun?

P. Yancey 2Why is sex fun? Reproduction surely does not require pleasure: some animals simply split in half to reproduce, and even humans use methods of artificial insemination that involve no pleasure. Why is eating enjoyable? Plants and lower animals manage to obtain their quota of nutrients without the luxury of taste buds. Why are there colors? Some people get along fine without the ability to detect color. Why complicate vision for the rest of us?

It struck me, after reading my umpteenth book on the problem of pain, that I have never even seen a book on “the problem of pleasure.” Nor have I met a philosopher who goes around shaking his or her head in perplexity over the question of why we experience pleasure. Yet it looms as a huge question: the philosophical equivalent, for atheists, to the problem of pain for Christians. On the issue of pleasure, Christians can breathe easier. A good and loving God would naturally want his creatures to experience delight, joy, and personal fulfillment. Christians start from that assumption and then look for ways to explain the origin of suffering. But should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness? . . .

Where does pleasure come from? After searching alternatives, Chesterton settled on Christianity as the only reasonable explanation for its existence in the world. Moments of pleasure are the remnants washed ashore from a shipwreck, bits of Paradise extended through time. We must hold these relics lightly, and use them with gratitude and restraint, never seizing them as entitlements.

–Philip Yancey
Soul Survivor

The Inconsolable Secret

baxterstill071 copy 2This is the truth about all of us.  It is the human predicament.  We have all been addressed. And we know that we are made for higher things.  It all stirs within us, whether we are very conscious of it or not.  And the stew that this stirring makes inside of us Lewis calls ‘desire,’ ‘longing’ and even ‘joy.’  He calls it ‘joy’ because even the frustration that it creates is more precious to us than anything else on earth.  But his best phrase for it is ‘the inconsolable secret.’

. . . In the 1600’s, Sir Isaac Newton put God in a box and reduced Him to a spectator watching the universe from a distance.  With God safely tucked away somewhere up there, the Western world moved on with life, trusting that science, technology and politics could solve our problems and deliver our dreams to us.  We have hoped in them now for a long time.  And they have given us many things, many conveniences and comforts and freedoms.  In fact, they have helped produce the most free and prosperous nation on earth—but also the most anxious. 

For all of their gifts, science, technology and politics have not been able to touch the soul.  Neither has wealth or sports or entertainment.  They have not answered the real question.  The longing, the aching, the inconsolable secret, is still with us, still in us, still unanswered, and still passing judgment upon us and our conveniences, comforts and prosperity.  It is still reminding us that we have not yet found the higher thing for which we all know we are made. 

–C. Baxter Kruger
From Ghosts to Persons:
C. S. Lewis’ Vision of Christianity