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A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty

Posted By: li0scc0

A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:31 PM

How to answer the following conundrum?

Consider a woman who longs to become a great ballerina, but cannot reconcile such a purely self-interested goal with her religious conviction that she ought to somewhow selflessly serve God. If she chooses to pursue her interest in dance, she cannot be happy because she will feel guilty and live in fear. If she chooses to become a missionary, or to serve God in some other way, she still cannot be happy, since her personal dream will go forever unrealized. And if she compromises - if she pursues dance less seriously than is necessary to realize her full potential, and in the place of that surrendered portion of her dream she somehow serves God's higher purpose - then she will get exactly what you would expect: a compromised, semi-guilty, semi-repressed sort of happiness. for she could have either sacrificed more to glorify God or worked harder to achieve her dream. She could have been either more moral or more selfish.

So what I am asking is this: "Is moral consistency incompatible with personal happiness?"
Posted By: John_C

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Sun Dec 23, 2007 3:05 AM

Since all of life is under the Sovereignty of God, secular vocations are just as important than the spiritual ones. If God has called the woman to use her talents in dance, then she should be the best dancer she can become. By doing that she is not shortchanging God as she can serve God through her dancing just as a missionary can do in their missionary work.

Paul was a tentmaker, not a fully paid missionary.
Posted By: li0scc0

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Sun Dec 23, 2007 3:28 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful answer, John. I appreciate that.
Posted By: Paul_S

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Mon Dec 24, 2007 7:52 AM

li0scc0,

Long time no see!

Ever since a class in 8th grade I have absolutely detested impossible conundrum questions of the "there are only 7 people left in the world, but only 5 will fit in the lifeboat--who do you shove out?" variety. I now know that they play havoc with our minds because they invert our finitude and God's providential sovereignty: in the world of the conundrum people are judged for making decisions which would require omniscience, and God is passively inert in allowing ethical situations to develop which He cannot even resolve. In reality, neither of those occurs in real life.

In addition to your example assuming that the woman has perfect knowledge of her future psychological reaction to each choice, it also falls apart by falsely asserting that the "secular choice" is de facto motivated by "self-interest", and the "regious choice" by "morality", when in fact either or both choices could be so motivated, and then falsely asserting that even those two motivations are somehow either meritorious or condemnatory in God's sight. In other words, the conundrum is a mere tangle of false assumptions.

For a refreshing, reformed view of vocation, this White Horse Inn program touches on many aspects of a biblical, Christ-glorifying approach for the person in your example to take to heart; it fleshes out what John was pointing to above. Please listen and let me know what ye think.
Posted By: William

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Mon Dec 24, 2007 1:10 PM

Quote

. . . If she chooses to pursue her interest in dance, she cannot be happy because she will feel guilty and live in fear. If she chooses to become a missionary, or to serve God in some other way, she still cannot be happy, since her personal dream will go forever unrealized.

So what I am asking is this: "Is moral consistency incompatible with personal happiness?"






OK, so I'm a fundamentalist and am off topic.

ballet - people dancing in their underware performing uncompromising poses.

opera - people committing adultery and singing about it.

Culture - people trying to improve the good qualities of the mind are in reality just sinners who brush their teeth and take showers.


[color:"0000FF"]Serve God girl you will never live to regret it.[/color]


. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/coffee2.gif" alt="" />
Posted By: Robin

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Duty - Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:13 PM

One day a fundamentalist preacher walked in on the church secretary and music minister who were lost in a torrid embrace and locked in a long, passionate kiss.

Startled at his sudden appearance and knowing they'd been caught red-handed, they both blubbered out a tearful confession:

"Oh, preacher, we're so sorry! We've been having a secret adulterous affair for three years..." etc. etc.

The preacher looked visibly relieved. He took a breath and sighed,

"Oh what a relief! For a minute there I thought the two of you were dancing!"

-Robin
(an avid dancer and dance teacher)
Posted By: Living4God4Life

Re: A Conundrum of Self-Interest vs. Religious Dut - Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:24 AM

The only true joy and happiness we can ever have comes from God. Follow His ways and it will never be regretted. If through prayer, the Holy Spirit tells her to dance, that will make her happy. If He tells her to do missionary work, He will give her more joy for being obedient than she'd have ever gotten from ballet.
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