Appetites and Idols
The convergence zone of reading about Samson in my devotions, and reading Narcissus and Goldmund by
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)’