Sunday, April 24, 2016

Target's Bathrooms and the Tyranny of Boredom

My friend was lamenting to me the other day about the speed at which our common sense and basic grasp of reality has melted away. That Target would open all bathrooms to whomever wants to use them means more than "LBGT people finally have rights," it means if his daughter was in the bathroom and a creepy looking dude decided to go in after her he'd have to go in too in order to keep her protected. He was fine with a Transie using whichever one they wanted, but he was less than enthusiastic about being compelled into the women's bathroom from then on.
But his chief complaint was not that he would have to do things he despises now, nor was it even that we were rolling back to the middle ages or Muslim countries where every woman needs to be continually escorted and protected from men. He was most upset about how quickly it had all happened. A frog in water that's slowly brought to boil will die without ever jumping out, but this isn't a slow change that we're calmly accepting. No, we're pouring boiling water over the frog and he's just as content to sit and die. Why?

I think it's because God has made it so that pleasures grasped on a road that goes away from Him turn to ash in the hand. If you commit to fleeing from the true God you will find pleasure to be a mirage. Once you have the object of your desires, it vanishes without satisfaction and the hum drum of life takes it's place. You know what I mean. The ordinariness of life swallows everything novel. You may have a new toy, but eventually you get bored or tired of it and the pleasure is gone. Poor people think rich people must be very happy because they have a lot of stuff, but it no longer brings any joy because they've acclimated to it. Someone in the third world who has a very limited and terrible existence from your perspective is perfectly happy, because their world is normalized. Old people begin losing freedoms and abilities, but they're okay with this because life settles like that. The drug addict acclimates to the substance and begins needing more and more to get over his tolerance. The two passionate young lovers settle into a routine of marriage.
I was pushing the kids in the stroller on a run when suddenly I realized I wasn't winding all over the neighborhood, I was going forward, and only occasionally would I make a brief turn before resuming going forward. The times of change were small and fleeting, and the ordinary forward plodding quickly resumed. 

God made life ordinary, and made the ordinariness of life to swallow the novel. And He did this so that we could not flee from Him. We acclimate instantly because this keeps us from going off track and getting lost. It's a beacon, a sign, a warning. It's a buoy that keeps you headed toward God. It's not just the way things are that life is sucky and ordinary, it's actually a very great gift from God. Think about that next time you do your 10th load of laundry.

We are pursing one wildly insane porno idea after the other, stacking them on with increasing speed, because we are trying to serve the pleasure god in the hope that our life will be at least a little bit more interesting. We are chasing the novel to stave off boredom, but the second we get the newest treat boredom swamps us and we're back in chains. Gay marriage? Great. Until we get it. Bathroom selection based on a whim? Fabulous. Until it's achieved and then the idea becomes a yawn. Single bathrooms rather than divided by sexes? Whatever. We're so desperate for a fix of something new and interesting that there's no limit to what we will sacrifice on the alter to this god. "Oh baal, hear us" we cry, but there is no answer. The only result is that the radical becomes ordinary and we're left feeling restless again. And no amount of trying will change this, because this is how reality is apart from Christ.

But the good news is that in Christ there are pleasures forevermore.

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