Screwtape and Pleasure

Screwtape’s comment that the “Ever increasing craving for an ever decreasing pleasure is the formula” provides insight and warning as to how pleasure may harm us. Pleasure, though a gift granted by God, can if abused lead to the treacherous downfall of any Christian. Proverbs 21:17 warns that “He who loves pleasure will become poor.”

If we develop “increasing craving” we grow unhealthy, un-proportional love and desire for one or more particular pleasure, or for the acquisition of pleasure in general. Such desire is not always consciously developed, so it is important to evaluate the value we place on certain pleasures.

Some people consciously make pleasure the centre of their ambition and lifestyle. Those who practice hedonism, for example, place a high, centric value on pleasure. It is harmful because our desire for pleasure can cloud our vision for what is true and what ought to be done. In other words, it harms our sense of priority. That means it may get in the way of our relationship with God, and obscure our spiritual senses, disabling us from “hearing” his will.

Diminishing return from the source of pleasure results in greater expense on our part to acquire the pleasure, compounding the problem. This is similar to a cocaine user requiring more and more to achieve the same experience. It ultimately results in a spiral of destruction. I have certainly experienced the cloud of pleasure, and the spiral that so powerfully and cunningly sucks its victims down into its immobilizing clasp of stupor. It wasn’t until I was shaken out of it that I realized the true gravity and despicableness of the condition that I was in.

There are few ways I can think of to avoid and fight it. The first is what I mentioned previously, the constant self-evaluation. If we simply take an honest look at the value we place upon the various pleasures in our lives and make adjustments accordingly, we can avoid a lot of problems. Most importantly, I think we need to maintain a certain attitude, or mindset of self sacrifice. By that I mean constantly realizing that since we have given ourselves to Christ, we do not belong to ourselves, and therefore neither do our experiences.