I Stole God's TV (and a good time wasn't had by all)

The character Sarah Goldfarb, from Hurbert Selby Junior’s novel Requiem for a Dream (and Darren Aronofsky’s film adaptation), loves her son very much, even though he’s a junkie who keeps stealing her television set. Over and over again, the junkie son and his junkie friend take the TV and pawn it for money to buy heroin. Every time this happens, Sarah dutifully leaves her apartment and buys it back. But what’s more peculiar is that every time this happens, it doesn’t make Sarah love her son any less. Because of this, Sarah Goldfarb is like God.

She’s not 100% like God, of course. I don’t think God is addicted to diet pills or squanders much of the day watching a gratuitous amount of infomercials – although, I do believe he manifests in and works through all living beings, including but not exclusive to addicts of any variety. I also believe that God is love. This is something I have in common with the author of 1 John, a small but powerful book you can find toward the end of the New Testament. God cannot help but to love, because God is love. The fourth chapter (v.10) (NIV) says that:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

I bring this up as a belated rebuttal to one of my beautiful buddies when he said, “Why do you see it as a problem when you purposefully and repeatedly ‘sin,’ Kathryn? If you enjoy it, and Jesus forgives you, why not? It’s not like God’s going to stop loving you.” He’s right about the God-forgiving-me/God-loving-me thing: God is love. God cannot help but to love. God pours out his love indiscriminately, recklessly, infinitely.

But I don’t like me when I steal God’s TV.

My conscience hurts when I am so consumed with the pursuit of experiencing a minor, fleeting feeling of exhilaration, comfort, or what have you by means that God has made clear in my heart he would strongly prefer that I not partake in. God doesn’t encourage me to indulge in anything I want whenever I want it – especially if it’s something as blatantly destructive as heroin. Consider the example C.S. Lewis gave of who God is not:

“We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven, as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”*

Because if I tell God, “Thanks for the capacity to feel happiness, now I will exercise it by stealing your TV many times over,” and I claim to have any inkling of love for the Lord in return… Do you see the problem with this picture? It makes me inconsiderate. It makes me self-serving and advantageous. It makes me a lot of things. A lot of things I don’t want to be.

I would strongly prefer to not be the kind of person who has no trouble being overtly inconsiderate toward someone else. It doesn’t matter if “someone else” happens to be someone I’m head over heels for, or someone whose company I find very difficult to enjoy. From time to time my words and actions may contradict this, but when it comes down to the wire, I’d prefer not to be a jerk.

* The Problem Pain

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