george_hancockstefanIt seems that this summer one story after another are published revealing the search for pleasure. In the political arena there is the Nevada Senator John Ensign who had an affair with his best friend’s wife. There is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who had an adulterous relationship with a young lady from Argentina, for whom he declares a special in-depth love. Then there is the Titans quarterback Steve McNair, who was most likely murdered by his girlfriend because she thought that he was cheating with another woman. Ironically, she did not think she was a cheater also because he was married.

The well-known sociologist Andrew Greeley writes about the fact that people who achieve great success feel that laws no longer apply to them. They feel that the positions they have achieved come with certain entitlements – more sex, more money, more prestige, and more connections – all under the rubric of pleasure. God is not against pleasure. He is not against human sexuality (after all he made us sexual human beings); he is not against money for he is the one who gives riches; he is not against honor for he promises that those who honor him will be honored.

The psalmist reflects on the concept of pleasure and writes these words:

“You have made known to me the path of life: you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

The overarching principle of this passage is to know when the offered pleasure leads to death and when it leads to life; when it leads to enrichment and when it leads to destruction, either immediately or in the future.

Moses was a leader who had to make a choice about the pleasures that he found in Egypt. Thousands of years later, the author of Hebrews analyzes the life of Moses. He summarizes his credentials in this way as he includes Moses in the pantheon of the heroes of faith, “By faith Moses when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward“(Hebrews 11:24-26).

Sin offers millions of opportunities for pleasure. Anyone who reads the book of Proverbs can see that the adulterous pleasures are some of the most foolish. Yet, people have fallen into these temptations because they were not looking ahead for the rewards that faithfulness entails and the blessings that God bestows on those who are faithful. It is the devil who entices with the phrase “stolen waters are sweet” (Proverbs 9:17), while God calls people to be faithful to the wives of their youth (Malachi 2:14).

I recall the time when it was discovered that a married, well-known Christian was practicing the sin of homosexuality. I was on the West Coast at the time discussing the situation with some of the young people in a church. They could not believe how many excuses some Christian leaders have provided for him. They said that he had a difficult childhood, that the people that surrounded him did not provide the needed supervision for people of this high caliber and the worst excuse was that if his wife would have provided him the sexual satisfaction that he needed, he would not have sought a homosexual relationship.

As awful as Hugh Heffner is, no one expects him to behave differently. In the Mephistophelian terms, Heffner has sold his soul to the Devil and the devil is doing his marketing through him. The awful thing in this situation is that these adulterous relationships have been carried out by people who claim to have family values based on the Bible and who are a part of the people of God. Rush Limbaugh and John McCain can talk about family values, but the way they treated their wives does not show that they had family values. Ensign and Stafford were a part of a small group of believers, but they lied to themselves, to their spouses and their friends.

I think the reason so many people are shocked is because these people have lived a lie, committed the sin of adultery and then continued to live a life of hypocrisy – telling the public and their families something that they have ceased to be long time ago.

The world is telling us that pleasure comes from seeking new people and discarding the old. God tells us that pleasure comes from being faithful and cherishing the people that we have promised to love for as long as we live.