Paul and the Pursuit of Pleasure
Paul, in his debate with a wisdom group at Corinth, addresses Greco-Roman attitudes toward (idol) food (1 Cor 8:1–13; 10:23–30), sex (6:12–20), and entertainment (15:32). He engages with a kind of moral naturalism which motivates the Corinthians’ behavior. While he acknowledges that natural desire can serve as partial index of what is good, Paul nevertheless warns against letting anything have power over us (1 Cor 6:12). Food, drink, human intimacy, and play are physical and social pleasures that are good gifts from our Creator. They can, however, be dangerously idolatrous and addictive. Paul offers instruction on how we can enjoy pleasures as created goods without turning them into idolatrous practices.
||Max J. Lee (PhD Fuller Theological Seminary) is Professor of New Testament at North Park Theological Seminary. He is one of the Creation Project’s 2020–21 Henry Resident Fellows, researching natural desire and pleasure according to Paul. He is the author of Moral Transformation in Greco-Roman Philosophy of Mind (Mohr Siebeck, 2020).