This Morning, I was watching the news, and they mentioned that the movie ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ broke box office records. It is sad for many reasons. One reason is that the majority of these viewer are woman. There used to be a day when pornography just tempted men. How it seem woman are caught in its trap.
However, I do think we can look beyond the surface and see why many are tempted to see this movie. I think St Thomas Aquinas can shed some light on this. For one thing. Many people equate God with one big kill joy in the sky. They reason from this that God is opposed to pleasure.
Saint Thomas Aquinas’ ask the question, “Is pleasure inherently dangerous, deceptive and tempting, or is it inherently innocent and good, or is it neither and just neutral?” Kreeft quoting St Thomas says, “As is stated in Aristotle Ethics appropriate pleasures increases activity…whereas pleasure arising from other sources are impediments to activity. Accordingly there is a certain pleasure that is taken in the very act of reason, as when one takes pleasure in contemplating or in reasoning; and such pleasure does not hinder the act of reason but helps it, because we are more attentive in doing that which gives us pleasure, and attention foster activity. (1-11,33,3)”
Kreeft in his book, ‘Spiritual Direction from Saint Thomas Aquinas’ writes, ” Pleasure is in itself as inherent good. For ‘at God’s right hand there are pleasures evermore.’ (Ps 16:11) Pleasure is good because it motivates good acts. Food taste pleasant, and that motivate us to eat, and gain strength. Exercise, sports, hunting, writing, puzzle solving, imaginative creativity, music, love making- all these are good for us, and God made them pleasant to motivate us to seek them out…In Heaven the tremendous pleasure of the Beatific Vision will motivate us to enter into it more deeply, and that deeper understanding will produce more pleasure, which in turn will motivate us to enter more deeply, forever. We will never be bored, because God in infinite and we are forever finite, so there will be new truth and new pleasure at every moment. Kreeft quoting St Thomas, “Such pleasure so not hinder the act of reason but helps it.'”
We are made for pleasure. St Thomas writes, “Inasmuch as though being united to other by love, we look upon their good good as being our own, we take pleasure in the good we do to others, especially to our friends, as in our own good…Wherefore man take pleasure in their children, and in their own works, as bring things on which they bestow a share of their won good…For whatever we do or suffer for a friend is pleasant, because love is the principal cause of pleasure. (1-11,32.6) Kreeft writes, “All recognize St Thomas’ last statement to be profoundly true, by experience” ‘Love is the principal cause of pleasure.’ Therefore the more love the more pleasure… God invented pleasure…The Catholic Church…will not canonize a saint without evidence of great joy as well as heroic virtue. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. You could say that joy is deep pleasure, or that joy is the deepening of happiness as happiness is the deepening of pleasure.”
St Thomas writes, “The greater the desire for the thing loved, the greater the pleasure when it is attained; indeed, the very increase the desire brings with it an increase of pleasure. (1-11,32.8) Kreeft writes, “God fills to the brim with his joy, with Himself, whatever receptive place we make in our hearts and lives. That is the ultimate reason why the relationship between virtue and pleasure is an intrinsic necessity…The reward of happiness is in the very act of virtue….When you sculpt out a deep God-shaped canyon in your soul by your intense desire (love) to know Him, God will fill it to the brim with what you sought- Himself- and this will bring brimful joy.”
St Thomas is saying we are made for pleasure. God is the source of every true pleasure. God is truth and truth brings pleasure. Many people don’t believe that God wants to give us pleasure. Scripture says, “Taste and see that the Lord is Good.” When we don’t have God. Or when we don’t believe that God wants to give us joy we will seek ultimate pleasure in all the wrong places such as, food, money or the fantasy world of Fifty Shades of Gray.
God wants to tell all us, ‘Seek me and I will give you the true delights of your heart.”