If it feels good, you shouldn’t necessarily do it

warning.gifMany people subscribe to the philosophy of “if it feels good, do it,” or its cousin, utilitarianism, which is defined as:

the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons (Dictionary.com)

I see at least three significant problems with these philosophies. 

First, measuring happiness in any meaningful way for large amounts of people is impossible, even at a point in time and definitely not over extended periods of time. 

Second, the “greatest number of persons” part is open to all sorts of evil.  Communism was an allegedly swell idea at its core once once you got rid of the few million dissenters.  You can rationalize slavery, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, abortion, theft and more with “greater good” theories.

Third, it ignores the law of unintended consequences.  For example, gays in a pre-AIDS world could have easily rationalized that no one was getting hurt.  After all, they were consenting adults.  Who cared if they were having sex with hundreds of different people per year, often anonymously?  Oh, wait, AIDS came along, and took countless lives, including those of people who weren’t just “doing what feels good.”  Two guys I used to work with and played on volleyball teams with died as a consequence of just having “fun” back in the 80’s.  It has cost untold billions of dollars as well. 

So when people are rationalizing sin it is good to remember that they may not see — or may not want to see — the consequences of their actions.  People forget to take pills.  Condoms break.  Guys not really committed to you leave.  Kids grow up without fathers.  Many of those kids become criminals and wreak havoc on the lives of others.  And on and on. 

Ideas have consequences, and utilitarianism is a lousy idea with horrible consequences.  It is a hollow and deceptive philosophy that will try to take you captive and enslave you.

Galatians 6:7-10 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. 

0 thoughts on “If it feels good, you shouldn’t necessarily do it”

  1. My oh my. Only a Christian would start a conversation with “feels good” and “happiness” and end up equating each with sin.

    The vast majority of people in this country consider themselves “happy” and they don’t do drugs, aren’t gay or lesbian, don’t steal, etc.

    Are you happy, Neil, or are you a monster held in check only by your fear of what will happen in your afterlife?


  2. Great post Neil. The problem with people that try to define “feels good” and “happiness” have no clue what either truly is. Reminds me of people that think “if you love me you will not punish me”. Wrong, love is exactly why you punish wrong behavior.

    It is impossible to ever get sinners to see things like this. They want to justify actions not see the truth.


  3. Mark – the use of anti-depressants has more than doubled in the last 20 years in the States and in Scotland, within 15 years, the use has quadrupled. It would seem that the trend is that more people are becoming less happy.

    And you seem to be missing Neil’s point which was to illustrate that ‘doing simply what feels good’ is a flawed and, IMO, a short-sighted and ultimately self-destructive philosophy.


  4. Mark (2), I don’t see how your comment applied to this post. It seemed to come from preconceptions. I thought I’ve been pretty clear on this blog that we’re all sinners in need of a Savior and that straight non-drug users who never steal still need Jesus.


  5. Mark (2)

    I am a Christian and I am happy. I have no fear of the afterlife. While monster might be too strong a word. I know that there is much in me that is held in check not by fear but,through the grace of God, by the Holy Spirit.


  6. Neil, good points. Another message I hear a lot is to follow your heart. But Jeremiah 17:9 says ” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

    Now why would you follow something deceitfula dn wicked?


  7. Ok, I can’t type… I’ll try again…

    Neil, good points. Another message I hear a lot is to follow your heart. But Jeremiah 17:9 says ” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.”

    Now why would you follow something deceitful and wicked?


  8. Mark (2), it doesn’t seem to me that Neil believes happiness or pleasure is inherently sinful, and I certainly don’t believe it, either.

    It appears that Neil’s point isn’t that those things are inherent sins, but that they CANNOT be the basis for morality, and attempts to define morality as maximizing either (e.g., hedonism or utilitarianism) are doomed to fail.


  9. Neil, I am glad you finally did a post about AIDS. AIDS is not just a gay disease it affects all people guilty of sexual immorality and some innocent people as well. Also single parent children do struggle but I don’t want people to generalize and think that God can not use bastard children because he can. Yes, “if it feels good do it” does not mean it is always right. I know when I do wrong I can not enjoy because I feel convicted. If you like Neil’s post check out my Let’s Talk about Sex post.


  10. Neil, So true. Society, and even many Chrilstians live by how they feel or how they want to feel. Emotions and feelings are the cannon fodder of defeat that the enemy of our souls uses against us daily. We must live not by what is seen, but what is unseen! Herm


  11. First Corinthians 10:23 is a very relevant passage for this post of Neil’s:

    “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.


  12. I don’t want people to generalize and think that God can not use bastard children because he can

    I hope he can, because I probably was a bastard child. I was given up for adoption at birth. I don’t know the circumstances, but it is pretty likely that it was an unwed mother.


  13. I think, that while people choose to have sex, God controls conception. Therefore there are no children who are not wanted by God, and everyone has a place in God’s plan, if they choose to take it.

    I know this brings up the question about birth defects. Yet I know of many children considered defective by society who have been great blessings. God knows what he is doing, we just have to have faith.


  14. Regarding God using children born of unwed parents…. Seems like I recall a boy whose parents weren’t married that was born about 2000 years ago that did pretty good. 🙂


  15. Thanks for beating me to the punch SST. Babies are meant to change and uplift us. It is man that chooses to block his blessings whether through adoption or abortion.

    Regardless the outcome a blessing always surrounds the event.


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