Two Dualistic Extremes–From Our Culture and Our Churches

Searching for Happiness but our Dualism Gets in the Way

naugle-reorderedDavid Naugle, in his book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness, writes,
“The genius of the Christian faith…is that it does not call upon us to eliminate our love for things on earth out of our love for God in Heaven. (p.21)
The happy life…consists of learning how to love both God supremely and the world in the right way at the very same time. In fact, the world and its resources exist to point us to God and his glory, that we might recognize God in, and love him for, his gifts.” (p. 22)
But this is contrary to what we are taught, both in our culture and in our churches.

In today’s culture, we are taught to love that which gives us pleasure – that happiness is in the party, the relationship, the things we can buy and consume, the entertainment we watch, and the hobbies we spend our spare time doing. As Indie Rock band Hard Fi sing,
Working all the time
Work is such a bind
Got some money to spend
Living for the weekend
When it gets too much
I live for the rush
Got some money to spend
Living for the weekend

The only thing that matters is what we do in the body. There is no spiritual dimension to life, so let’s make money and live for the weekend.

In response to this hedonistic attitude, church leaders have taught us that all that really matters is the soul, the mind, and being spiritual so that we can win the war against the body and this physical world. As the old church song goes,
This world is not my home, I'm just a passing thru,
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me from Heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

But both views show a dualistic attitude that actually dilutes our ability to experience true happiness. I’ll let David Naugle explain:
“The worldly mistake is to focus on the physical creation, forfeiting the soul for the body, sacrificing the transcendent for the immanent, and eliminating the sacred from the secular. The mistake the church sometimes makes is to focus on the heavenly Creator forfeiting the body for the soul, sacrificing the immanent for the transcendent, and eliminating the secular from the sacred. At the root of both errors is a common but malicious dualism that separates or eliminates one indispensible realm of reality from the other. As a result of the split, the favored portion receives excessive, if not distorted, attention, and the unfavored portion suffers inappropriate, if not slanderous, neglect.” (p. 23)
What can we do to finally rid ourselves of the dualisms that defeat the purposes of God in our lives and our true happiness?

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