Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Appetites and Idols

The convergence zone of reading about Samson in my devotions, and reading Narcissus and Goldmund by Hesse, has me thinking a lot about the relationship between body and spirit. It seems that Samson’s choices to live by his appetites led to his destruction. And one can consider David’s sins of adultery and murder, or Solomon’s wives and concubines, and see similar fruits that come from living by one’s appetites.

It seems that the church has reacted to this at various times down through history by vilifying the senses themselves, especially our sexuality, with the result that we end up investing great energy in crushing that which is a very real part of us (for some brief thoughts on this you can read the cliff notes interpretation, jaded though it is, of Augustine’s Confessions).

These imbalanced views fail to acknowledge the reality of our longings and desires, with the result that huge amounts of energy are spent seeking to kill the longings, when the scriptures have reminded us in many places that this is not where life is to be found.

But the real danger is never the appetite, or the desire. The real danger is when the appetite, or the desire, or thing that is desired becomes that which controls our lives. Today we call that addiction. The Bible calls it idolatry. There’s nothing wrong with food. There’s everything wrong with gluttony. There’s nothing wrong with sex. There’s everything wrong with sexual appetites having free reign in our lives. The same Paul who wrote against the dangers of false asceticism wrote a word of warning that we not take as our role models those whose ‘god is their appetites (or stomachs)’

I went for a run this morning and was overcome by joy as the sun peaked through the firs trees, and the humid air hung heavy with the scent of ripe blackberries, horses, and sweat. The visuals, the scents, the capacity to run and be alive in the midst of His creation, and to take it in, really take it in as a gift from God; this is good. To demand the same tomorrow – this becomes idolatry. It’s good to enjoy His gifts – good food, the beauty of the trees, fine conversation with friends old and new, freshly roasted coffee, and beauty in art or music or humanity. But the gifts need to be held in an open hand, for to insist on them, to seek them unduly, to become addicted to them would be idolatry.



At 15/8/05 22:21, Anonymous Dave said...

Wow, thanks for that verse from Colossians. I can't recall ever hearing about it... and haven't gotten to that book just yet. Great scripture, "why as if you were living in the world" indeed.

Glad to hear you're finding some quality personal time.

At 16/8/05 10:25, Anonymous Jenny Sorensen said...

What a good way to put it. I've always believed that God calls us to celebrate life, but struggled with how to do that without idolizing it? It really helps me to remember to be thankful for the beauty God gives us and not demand it the next day or seek the beauty. When we taste, see, feel a good thing it's hard to not try to hold on to that moment; we want heaven, but it takes a deeper faith to trust that He will provide it for us in His time. It's also good to know that a nice glass of wine after a long days work can be a gift and celebration from and of God as well.

At 17/8/05 07:46, Blogger redq4qllo26vsae said...

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