The Philosophy of Fun
How do we go about finding the freedom to enjoy life without guilt? Is there a way to identify legitimate pleasure and illegitimate pleasure? Where can we find both the guidance and the power to engage in the former and reject the latter?
Jesus promised life, abundant life. The Apostle Paul urged us to count it all joy. The psalmist declared that at God’s right hand there are pleasures forever. Obviously we are intended to experience pleasure in life, abundantly!!
Meanwhile we have been caught between the extremes of castigating pleasure as a curse like Stoics, and being tempted by the lawless Epicurean indulgence in anything that feels good.
The supposedly most gifted, wisest and talented man who ever lived, Solomon, went whole-hog for every conceivable pleasure “under the sun”, not under the Son. To quote him: “I denied myself nothing my heart desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” This ultimately led to his statement: ”So I hated life.” (Eccles. 2)
Drawing from F. W. Boreham’s writings, Ravi Zacharias describes three fundamental principles that form a reliable philosophy of fun (Cries of the Heart, Chapt. 5).
First establish your goal, your purpose in life. Why am I here? Then, “Any pleasure that refreshes you without diminishing you, distracting you or sidetracking you from the ultimate goal is a legitimate pleasure.”
Since biblical goals place a high value on loving others the second principle is easily understood.
“Any pleasure that jeopardizes the sacred right of another is an illicit pleasure.”
We’ve all heard the adage that we can have too much of a good thing. We need balance in life. Therefore, the third principle is “Any pleasure, however good, if not kept in balance, will distort reality or destroy appetite.”
Every pleasure has a price. Legitimate pleasures require a disciplined investment beforehand. Illegitimate pleasures will result in harsh consequences afterwards. Furthermore, pleasure is a means, not an end in itself. It serves to reach a greater goal. Finally, God is the source of all good pleasure. It has been said that amusement is what people do who don’t have real pleasure.
Have real fun, (I wish I had learned this years ago.)