Christians Aren’t Buddhists

The title seems self-evident, but as I look back on my own life, I wonder if I have really lived it as such, and probably a lot of other people have done such. In our lives, we want so much to avoid sin that it could be that we take an extreme that is just as sinful as that which we seek to avoid.

<> The Buddha saw that all suffering came from desire that was unmet. The way to avoid suffering then is to eliminate desire. Unfortunately, this seems to have the end result of killing the patient where the end goal is to reach a void where you cease to be known as Sunyata.

In some ways, we can admire what the Buddha intended. He’s right in some ways. Suffering does come from having our desires unmet in many cases. However, the Christian view is not that our desires are the problem. They are fallen. If anything, our desires are too weak.

There are many desires we do view as neutral though they can be indulged to a wrong proportion. The desire for food is good, but gluttony is not. The desire for drink is good, but even that needs moderation. It is good to desire entertainment, but not at the expense of avoiding work. I am tired in the evenings and desire sleep, but not to the extent that I sleep all day.

One of the most difficult ones though is sexual desire. A lot of couples have a hard time on a honeymoon because they’ve had the impression all their lives that their desire is somewhat negative. Wives need to know it’s okay to desire their husbands sexually and husbands their wives.

As a single guy, this is a hard one. When I see a beautiful lady, I need to realize that God made me to be attracted to her. He has just made the ultimate fulfillment of that attraction fit a specific time and place. Of course, there are improper ways of handling the desire, but why pray for it go away? That’s like praying that I cease to be a guy. I should just pray for self-control.

In the book “More Jesus, Less Religion” author Jack Felton talks about how he specializes in counseling men who struggle with sexual addiction. He talks about guys who come in and say “I was on the beach and I saw a pretty girl in a bathing suit and I responded.” (He means internally. Not going up and talking to her.) His answer is “Well of course he did!” After all, that’s how guys made healthy males and he’d have a lot more to worry about if he didn’t respond at all.

If anything though, our desires are too weak. We are far too easily pleased. We settle, as C.S. Lewis says, for making mudpies when God wants to give us a day at the beach. If anything, our desires are a clue. We are always wanting more and more and that endless desire can only be fully realized in God.

The goal then? Not to cease to be. The goal is TO BE. We are to be who we are meant to be in God finding all our desires ultimately pointing to him. This doesn’t mean you ignore the desires here. Those desires are clues to the desire of God. Jesus says he must be our bread and drink, our very sustenance. The imagery of marriage is used to explain his love. The imagery of parenthood to explain the fatherhood of God.

Dear Christian. Your desires are good. They are simply to be controlled, but then, that desire for holiness is a good thing as well is it not?

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