"Religion has caused more harm that any other idea since the beginning of time. There's nothing good I can say about it."
- Larry Flynt
"We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking."
- Albert Camus
WHY THIS CHAPTER?
This question largely concerns perception. Perception is affected by what's important to you and what you believe to be true.
While it is logical for a nonbeliever to not share a believer's pleasures, it is completely illogical to conclude because of that, believers are allowed no pleasures.
Why does the Bible condemn things people enjoy?
"Immorality: the morality of those who are having a better time."
- H.L. Mencken
Everyone has their preferred activities and pleasures in life. Those change and they vary widely from person to person. Preferences which nonbelievers collectively fault Scripture for condemning include sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex, sex with minors, bestiality, adultery, drunkenness, drugs, abortion, pornography, lewdness, and coarse language.
I expect few nonbelievers consider all of these to be good pleasures, but it's common to find people who argue that they simply cannot abide by the Bible's condemnations. They say that the Bible is a book for which they seriously question the historical and scientific evidences. In response to this, the question should be asked of the nonbeliever, "Which came first: your analytical review of historical and scientific evidences for the Bible, or your pleasures or aspects of lifestyle which you say the Bible condemns?"
Pleasures and lifestyle always come first. We were born that way; primarily concerned about ourselves, not about truth. We continue in that way, too, unless a change is made in our basic nature. No one was born adhering to biblical morality and then later had to discipline themselves to be selfish and pleasure-oriented. Self-centeredness and the seeking of personal pleasure is exactly what is natural and inborn. By contrast, it is the respect for authority that must be learned.
All people start out self-oriented. It is only when they receive God's Holy Spirit do they begin a new spiritual life of discipline towards biblical morality and respect for the authority of God. It is incorrect for atheists to think that believers dislike pleasure so much that they seek out hard teachings like those in the Bible. What's tempting for the atheist is generally tempting for the believer. Indeed, certain pleasures which the Bible warns to be destructive temptations would have no need of condemnation if they weren't tempting to everyone, at least to some degree!
The Bible was not written by a bunch of hate-mongers who wanted to condemn all the fun, freedom, and good pleasures in life. The Bible was inspired by a holy and just God who has our best interests in mind.
According to Scripture, what looks fun, good, and enticing from the worldly perspective often looks the same from the heavenly perspective, but with a difference. The difference is in the fact that Scripture reveals the true nature behind the world's enticements. Scripture reveals the true nature of temptations much like a Nutrition Facts label reveals the invisible qualities of packaged food.
The nutrition label tells you what's in your favorite dessert; those things you can't otherwise see. This is information your intellect uses to balance your passions for eating. Likewise, the Bible reveals the true nature of the temptations of this world for your spirit to use in balancing your passions for living.
Both the Nutrition Facts label and the Bible exist to help you make choices. Neither force you to act, and neither can be faulted for telling it like it is.
Christians: biased, bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental?
What does the way in which I live have to do with loving God?