Learning Theology from a Dog pt-2
Feb 17, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment
What could anyone possibly learn about theology from a dog?!
Last week we talked about fulfilling desire, seeking pleasure and the perceived paradox of a God who created us with desires, yet requires us to abandon the fulfillment of these pleasure to prove our devotion to him.
The letter written by Lewis was the foundational metaphor for the blog and discussion from last week “learning theology from a dog pt1″.
lets look further at the letter from CS Lewis and go further into the topic of fulfilling our desires apart from God and where the path leads.
The Longing for Joy and the Lie of Sin
What’s the takeaway? First, Lewis says we can look back at our history and see there is a God-given longing behind many of our sinful actions.
“I may always feel looking back on any past sin that in the very heart of my evil passion there was something that God approves and wants me to feel not less but more. Take a sin of Lust. The overwhelming thirst for rapture was good and even divine: it has not got to be unsaid (so to speak) and recanted.”
But now Lewis exposes the lie: the idea that giving into your sinful, illicit lust will fulfill that longing:
“But [the thirst] will never be quenched as I tried to quench it. If I refrain—if I submit to the collar and come round the right side of the lamp-post—God will be guiding me quickly as He can to where I shall get what I really wanted all the time.”
The Gracious, Ruthless God
Second, Lewis says this parable applies to future temptation, and helps us understand why we should expect God to be ruthless in condemning our sin:
“When we are thinking of a sin in the future, i.e. when we are tempted, we must remember that just because God wants for us what we really want and knows the only way to get it, therefore He must, in a sense, be quite ruthless towards sin.
“He is not like a human authority who can be begged off or caught in an indulgent mood. The more He loves you the more determined He must be to pull you back from your way which leads nowhere into His way which leads you where you want … to God. Hence MacDonald’s words ‘The all-punishing, all-pardoning Father’.”
It is impossible to appeal to God’s “love” in order to affirm you in your lusts. God cannot and will not affirm your sinful desires and actions because to do so would make it impossible for you to know true joy.
So what should you do when you fall into sin? Ask for forgiveness and redirection.
“You may go the wrong way again, and again He may forgive you: as the dog’s master may extricate the dog after he has tied the whole lead round the lamp-post. But there is no hope in the end of getting where you want to go except by going God’s way.”
Longings and Lies in Our Lust
This parable about the dog helps us see both the longings and the lies in the world’s understanding of sexuality, and it smashes the idea that God wants to kill our joy or obliterate all our desires. Far from it! Instead, Lewis believes that God pulls back the collar precisely because He wants us to find the delight we crave, in Him:
“I think one may be quite rid of the old haunting suspicion—which raises its head in every temptation—that there is something else than God, some other country into which He forbids us to trespass—some kind of delight which He ‘doesn’t appreciate’ or just chooses to forbid, but which would be real delight if only we were allowed to get it. The thing just isn’t there. Whatever we desire is either what God is trying to give us as quickly as He can, or else a false picture of what He is trying to give us—a false picture which would not attract us for a moment if we saw the real thing.
“God knows what we want, even in our vilest acts. He is longing to give it to us. He is not looking on from the outside at some new ‘taste’ or ‘separate desire of our own.’ Only because he has laid up real goods for us to desire are we able to go wrong by snatching at them in greedy, misdirected ways. . . .
“Thus you may well feel that God understands our temptations—understands them a great deal more than we do. But don’t forget MacDonald again—’Only God understands evil and hates it.’ Only the dog’s master knows how useless it is to try to get on with the lead knotted around the lamppost. This is why we must be prepared to find God implacably and immovably forbidding what may seem to us very small and trivial things.”
God understands our temptations. He knows our hearts better than we do. He sympathizes with our ignorant attempts to find joy apart from him. But in his great love, he refuses to affirm us in our misdirected ways. To do so would be to abandon us to the leash and lamppost, where we would strangle ourselves.
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux