Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What Binds, Drives and Isolates

According to Malcolm Muggeridge, three things that bind [enslave] us, drive us and isolate us are:

  1. "excessive desire to possess things"
  2. "devotedness to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures; luxuriousness; voluptuousness; lewdness"
  3. "belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others"
He uses the words cupidity, sensuality and vanity--words that aren't used much these days, so I went to hunt for their meanings. Who knew that cupidity has to do with greed and not love? When I searched for the meaning of sensuality, many wanted to equate the word with sex but, while sex is one of the bodily appetites, it is only one.

I think, of the three, sensuality is the one that catches me the most. I like comfort and do as much as I can to avoid discomfort. I like luxuries and indulge in the ones I can afford. I like to feel good and do what I can to ensure I do. It never occurred to me that this could be wrong. Is it? I can see how devotedness to lewdness ("preoccupation with sex and sexual desire," lust, obscenity and indecency) is wrong but simple luxuries and comforts? It's something I'm going to have to think about.

What are your thoughts?

Malcolm Muggeridge in Jesus Rediscovered as quoted in Learning from Jesus: A Spiritual Formation Guide by Renvaré, page 29.
Definition of "cupidity" from http://www.wordinfo.info/words/index/inf
Definition of "lewdness" from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lewdness


Mikael said...

I agree that "devotedness" to things, in a way that enslaves us is wrong, but are lewdness, lust, and comforts, etc bad in and of themselves? Is there room for "good", unbinding sensualities?

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

Given the definition of lewdness, yes, it is bad. Same with lust. In fact, both of these are directly mentioned in the Bible as something to flee from and not engage in. See http://www.biblestudytools.com/OnlineStudyBible/bible.cgi?new=1&word=lewd*&section=0&version=niv&language=en

Certainly it can't be wrong to enjoy the feel of silk; to sit in a brightly-lit room with fine furnishings; to take pleasure in good food, etc. But if these sorts of things are the primary motivation for what we do, then they would be wrong. But how does one determine how tightly bound to something she is? I think most people find justification for what they do. How do we know when or that we are enslaved?

[Sorry about the URLs not being links--can't do links in comments, apparently. Just copy and paste into your browser.]