The hope of happiness

In the debate over same-sex marriage and homosexuality, just as in other issues about which people disagree, the answer to one question will mostly determine which side one will support:

Or perhaps more specifically, what is our purpose for being, or what is the goal at which we are to be aiming?

Alright, so that’s technically three questions, but each represents the ultimate existential query. The answer one gives will generally fall into one of two categories:

A. To glorify God and fulfill his purposes for me, or…

B. Everything else.

Prominently featured in category B will be, to live a full and happy life. I think it’s safe to say that’s something we all desire, but that’s not the question. Is happiness and fulfillment the goal of our existence? Seems to me goals outweigh desires in importance.

Of course, if there is no God, there is no goal. A goal or purpose requires one with intelligence who can determine it. Without an ultimate goal we are left to choose our own individual targets and select our personal trajectories. So if happiness is the perceived purpose of our life, only lifestyles, values, and choices that contribute momentum towards that goal are considered valid.

Regarding then the legitimacy, normalcy, and morality of homosexual behavior, if we’re a category B type we are much more likely to take a positive, approving viewpoint. If happiness is our highest aim we have all we need to justify and condone even what has been considered aberrant since the beginning of civilization, and even when we are aware of its harmful consequences. If it is expected to contribute to our own happiness or the happiness of others, it’s an acceptable and even logical lifestyle.

But supposing now that there is a God, as historically defined and revealed in the Bible. And that as our Creator and Sovereign he has established and ordained our meaning and purpose…and it’s not our happiness in this life. It’s our holiness. It’s to become like him so that we can have an eternal, meaningful relationship with him. A couple of things to note:

  1. Dog lovers may dispute this, but just as we can’t have a truly robust and reciprocal relationship with any creature other than our own kind, we can’t have an intimate relationship with a holy God if we are not his “kind.”
  2. Isn’t spending an eternity in an intimate, loving relationship with the great God of the universe preferable to any temporary happiness we may secure for ourselves in the relatively short span we journey through in this life?
  3. If we have truly submitted to God’s loving authority and his purpose for us, we will accept whatever difficult and painful stuff he brings into or allows in our lives and live in obedience to him anyway. So if we have multiple health issues we will draw near to him and endure, and not accuse him of insensitivity. If we are feeling unfulfilled in our marriage we do not claim personal happiness as our highest good and break our vows. And if we feel sexually attracted to our own gender we do not twist his Word to conform to our desires but vow instead to obey him and trust in his grace.

I’m a category A type, though admittedly I don’t always live like it. But I truly believe I am here “to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” as the Westminster Shorter Catechism answers the question. And do you know what I see in that answer? Something immeasurably better than whatever temporal pleasures I feel entitled to and can secure for myself. I see an eternal existence with the greatest conceivable Being, one who is beyond comparison to any human one, and an existence that is characterized by mutual love and continuous, unbroken, unimpeded, pure, holy…happiness.