As an ENFP with the word FEELING right in the middle of my personality type (hint: it’s the ‘F’), I tend to react to things emotionally. For me, it’s all about the binges. I binge eat, binge watch, binge game, binge read (if I cannot put a book down, I very literally cannot put it down), binge dev (game develop) and I can’t do anything by halves.
The other day my lovely well-meaning friend delivered blocks of chocolate she was looking to offload to me the other day. Silly ol’ me, thought the chocolate would be safe in my fridge. Oh, how slowly do I learn.
Hours later, most of the chocolate was consumed and I was left with a tummy ache and feeling very, very remorseful.
There’s no ‘fun’ in ‘control’
Lack of impulse control leads to all of life’s self-imposed miseries: Obesity, bad health, porn addictions, extra-marital affairs, workaholic related conditions, relational and time management issues.
It’s little wonder that self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians. As necessary as self-control is, it is often completely overlooked as one of the empowerments the Holy Spirit. Most people can remember ‘peace, joy, love, something something, goodwill towards men’. Maybe it’s because it is sometimes translated as temperance and maybe because it’s the least fun, stuffy, iron-collared part of the fruit.
We’re in a generation which equates control to boring times and it’s much more fun to live life in the fast lane. Though scoffing inordinate amounts of chocolate is a type of reckless abandon, it is abandon nonetheless.
Living it up Las Vegas style is the goal, not living it up accountant style. Though after a period of reckless abandon I start to wish I had some accountability.
Guilt and disassociation
Self-control is really the opposite of self-indulgence and indulgence in the 21st century has become a lifestyle. People may work hard but they’ve been told by TV advertisements for most of their adult lives to ‘indulge, indulge, indulge’… after all, ‘you’re worth it’.
The phrase ‘guilty pleasures’ was invented for a reason. We’re supposed to feel guilty for overindulgence! That guilty feeling is a good way of reminding us that we have a moral accountability not to be complete hedonists. After all, guilt is just that nudge in the ribs from moral accountability because we’re all going to have to stand before the One True Moral Judge one day.
Over-indulgence and the lack of self-control don’t mean that a person is lazy, or has low self-esteem, out of control desires or any other suggested problems out there in Internet World™. It may however be related to deeper psychological problems such as the inability to say ‘no’ and disassociating the problem from the behaviour.
Yes, maybe TV has been a culprit. Definitely the parenting style which says a kid can get whatever will placate them for a moment is a huge factor in widespread over-indulgence (I could write a whole other article on the tendency of single mothers to lean towards this parenting style – though I understand why they do).
Society is the one with the problem
Frankly, I have an excuse. I’m just a product of my generation. If I go by the morality of society, our whims are King. Except I wasn’t born yesterday; I know how I feel when I over-indulge. If I haven’t made myself physically sick, I feel empty inside and promise myself to do better next time.
There’s something not natural about what society tells us. What the Bible says makes much more sense of how I get affected by my lack of self-control. There are a bunch of verses where Paul teaches self-control and says that people shouldn’t even serve in offices of ministry without it.
Society has a disease. As it says about our days:
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:2-5).
Society is going to get worse, but with the Holy Spirit guiding us and growing His fruit in us, we have hope to beat this disease of self-indulgence.
Bridget makes websites for various para-church ministries, is part of an Indigenous church and writes visual novels at www.christianvisualnovel.com.
Bridget Brenton’s previous articles may be viewed