Gratification or Satisfaction
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Ge 1:27)
One of the predominate drives that motivates the actions of mankind is the tension of male/female attraction. From youth, we begin to understand there is a longing deep within our core being that proposes to be fulfilled only through significant interchange with a mate, someone with whom we can have social and physical intimacy. For the woman it wears the face of romantic daydreams. For the man its presentation is in the form of fantasies and sexual appetite.
At first this consciousness comes in at the fringes of our thinking. As time progresses and incidents form a kaleidoscope of memories, this desire begins to strengthen. Tragically, for some it turns into a raging passion or intoxication. If permitted to develop, this raging passion dominates the thought processes and drives. Whether it wears a normal male/female desire or is some form of deviancy, the slightest prod can unleash a flood of passions. Once his passions are ignited, a person may feel helpless against his raging desires.
The Bible is our handbook for living. It contains straightforward directives concerning man’s responsibility for his life. The area of sexual passions is one of the areas it addresses.
One of the passages helping us understand this huge issue is found in found in 1 Corinthians 6. This text teaches an elementary truth. When this knowledge is coupled with Holy Spirit power it will unlock the richest blessings God designed in the area of intimacy. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
Paul draws a parallel between the body’s appetite for food and the body’s appetite for sexual fulfillment. Then he makes a startling pronouncement about where true satisfaction is found for anyone with passions. Let us explore this more fully. Out of all the material world we live in and see, only a relatively small percentage is edible. While it is true we may eat grains, vegetables, fruits and meats, it is also true we cannot eat grass, sand, trees, rocks, concrete, steel, wood, etc. This fact is so obvious and we learn it at such an early age, we basically spend no time on it. Meats for the belly and the belly for meats. Of course, food is designed to meet the digestive system’s needs. Cardboard just won’t do, regardless of how long it is pressure cooked. Termites have been designed with a different digestive system, and wood works fine. Cows are created to live on grass and corn. God made them to be satisfied with something different than we are.
It is a marvel how God made food to be so appealing. We enjoy its beauty. We delight in the aromas. We savor the flavors. And finally we feel the contentment of a belly well fed, and we push back from the table. We have been satisfied.
In this same context and with this fact having been established, Paul informs us, Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. He is saying that just as cardboard will not satisfy the appetite for food, neither will sexual promiscuity satisfy the body in its desire for fulfillment.
This is a very strong and important lesson, because since our natures have been corrupted by Adam’s sin, it doesn’t seem to be true. It has to be accepted and acted upon by faith. It seems like gazing on pornography, indulging in self-abuse, being involved in sensual courtship or flirting with those one is not married to would bring some measure of satisfaction. It seems like gratifying the flesh would somehow quiet that restless, deep innate longing-- but it never does.
One acquaintance frequently asserted, “Pursuing the lust of the flesh creates an ever increasing desire and yields an ever diminishing pleasure.” What this is saying is that concupiscence may bring a physical release, but it unleashes raging floods of unfulfillment and cravings that empty the soul of all genuine joy.
To the Thessalonians, Paul maintains that we do not possess our vessels as the Gentiles do. They possess their vessels in the lust of concupiscence. In other words, they indulge, they gratify their imaginations, they stir up their lusts through movies, internet etc. This may satisfy their passions enough that they do not go out and commit violent conquests. But it doesn’t nourish the soul. It takes the edge off of the desire but it keeps fueling the lustful fire. This develops into an addiction that the victim battles day after day, even minute after minute.
The child of God is to find his deep yearning and primal instincts met in a totally different way. He finds fulfillment through finding and limiting himself to what is within the will of God. Through denying gratification, satisfaction begins to build; satisfaction that whispers value and assurance to the soul. Because of a pattern of self-control and overcoming base passions, the Christian knows and feels joined to Christ, linked to a higher power. "14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. 15 Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. 16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. 18 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
But one may ask, “How does God answer the needs of human sexuality? How does denial to base desires bring ultimate fulfillment?”
One truth that is established is that the needs of the spirit are more important than the needs of the body. The body is made of hormones and glands and there can be pent up pressure that comes in youth and good health. But this is not the most intense drive behind sexual passion. The intensity of drive comes from the restlessness of a soul or spirit longing for deeper fulfillment. Anyone can testify that during times of depression, the temptation for self gratification always rages stronger. Simple giving of thanks does wonders to set a person free of both depression and intense cravings. Brooding over one’s unfair lot in life and intense struggle flings open the door to more struggle.
The Bible teaches when a person is joined to a harlot, there is a very temporary oneness of body that gives a very fleeting fulfillment. But ultimately, the whoremonger sins against his own body. He becomes subject to venereal diseases. But more than this is what he does to his spirit. The whoremonger bonds with someone whom has already bonded to multitudes more. His intimacy is with one whose intimacy is made shallow by her choices and he inherits her vanity. He and she both know they are only “things” to each other, cheapened by the fact they have been “things” to so many more. The whoremonger is a hollow shell of emptiness who cannot be trusted because he will only fill his vacuum with more sin. "19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s."
The child of God reaches his fulfillment in a different way. His fulfillment comes in knowing how much he is loved by God. Granted, he doesn’t always feel so desirable or so loved, but he knows it is so because the Bible says so.
Along with this he realizes how much everything he is or has, he owes back to God. His life, his health and even his sexuality doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to God. God has given it to him for a reason. He exists for the good pleasure of the Father’s will. Somehow, in some way he will give it all back to God. If he would squander it on his own gratification he would be taking something that isn’t his.
There is a sanctifying humility that accompanies a person who senses his deep obligation to God in this manner. When we really appreciate our salvation, our relationship, our inheritance, and know we really don’t deserve any of it, we will not act as if God owes us more comfort. We will not feel like we can’t handle life unless we can reward ourselves with little gratifications of the flesh.
Maybe it is easier to understand if we use the illustration of two different children. One child grows up without discipline. He feels the world owes him everything, and he is out to take it. We call him spoiled, because he is determined to get what he wants. He is ill behaved and unhappy. Another child the same age has had a parent or parents who have conditioned him to realize he cannot have everything he imagines. He is made responsible for his conduct. He has suffered for his indiscretions in the past. These two children can visit the grandmother’s living room and its dish of candy with totally different results. The first one impulsively plunges into the bowl without asking. If it is there, and he wants it, he should have it. The other child sees the same dish and instinctively looks toward his mother. Seeing her eye and the slight shake of her head, he knows the dish is off limits, at least for now. He contents himself with some toys at his feet. He is the happier.
It is an unhappy “Christian” who somehow feels he deserves some of the world’s “candy” but he is missing out. If he feels this way, he will find some way to gratify his impulses. If he does, he will sacrifice his long-term satisfaction and feel very disgusted with himself.
God has created man with an entirely controllable sex drive. He does not have to live with raging passions that threaten to break out of control. But the fix is at a deeper level. The cure is a change of attitude and a willingness to discipline thought patterns.
We cannot have both. Gratification cancels out satisfaction. Satisfaction means no immediate gratification. You and I continually make the choice between the two.