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Pure Pleasure, by Gary Thomas, (Zondervan, 2009)

Subtitled, “Why do Christians feel so bad about feeling good?” this book makes a convincing case for the importance of pleasure in our lives. God created us to experience an abundant life, yet we are often uncomfortable about enjoying life’s pleasures.

When I saw this volume on the “New Books” shelf at my local library, I was intrigued. I had read and enjoyed Sacred Pathways, a previous work by this author, so I was interested to see what he had to say on the subject of pleasure. Chapter titles include “How our Pleasure Pleases God”, “Party Like It’s Biblical Time”, and” Singing in Exile: Finding Pleasure in Difficult Circumstances.” Questions at the end of each chapter make it very workable for a discussion group.

The author clearly explains how experiencing healthy pleasures can honor God, strengthen relationships, and deepen our worship, while protecting us from dangerous and destructive pursuits. His statement, “neglecting holy pleasure makes us vulnerable to illicit pleasure” is supported by biblical principles and convincing examples. He defines “holy pleasure” in a very broad sense, to include deep conversations with friends, a great meal, marital intimacy, the beauty of a sunset, cuddling a child, and many other things that enrich life.

If, as the Westminster Catechism states, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, it should follow that we also should aim to enjoy the things that He created for our pleasure. Having been raised in a family that considered many pleasurable pursuits as sinful, or at least suspect, I found this book liberating. Some of my most profound times of worshiping the Creator have been while snorkeling in a tropical bay, exulting in the glory of His creation. Since this isn’t likely to happen for me on a regular basis, this book helped me realize that I need to be strategic in planning other opportunities to enjoy the immeasurable pleasures God has provided for us.

Pure Pleasure is highly readable, and just might encourage you to enjoy life more.