B: When we do good things for others, for the purpose of helping them be happy, we are thinking of them as souls, instead of as mere objects in our lives. Since souls are eternal (meaning they will continue to exist even after death ends their lives here), every act of service, including even seemingly minor acts such as compliments, smiles, and laughs, are eternal in their effect and nature. Such acts can continue to bring us joy even when we remember them some time, perhaps even years, later. If they happen to escape our memories, they still had the eternally significant effect at the time of moving us along our path to our utmost goal of ultimate happiness, or God’s happiness.
A: Well, some of what you call my “indulgences” help me along my path. They can help me through tough times by relieving my stress.
B: I think it’s important to note that God’s commandments may not necessarily outlaw certain indulgences simply because there is literally nothing good about them, but rather because they always do more harm than good. It’s true that ill-advised sins can bring some temporary pleasure that relieves us of stress. Speaking more generally, there may be some good that comes of doing bad things. For an example, let’s suppose that somebody illicitly hacks into some forbidden websites, enabling him to steal large quantities of merchandise and money. Most agree that this action is wrong – it not only is against the law, it’s also unethical. Yet the thief may have gained certain skills in computer networking, in the course of performing this action, that are potentially useful and employable down the road, for instance. This knowledge could potentially be a good thing, which would therefore come from God, by the definition of “good” I gave before.
However, I would claim that this is an example of God making the best of a bad situation: God knows that the thief can eventually repent of his misdeeds, if he chooses to, sometime in the future, and if he does, that skill he gained (or improved) while committing the crime may come in handy as he tries to support his family, which seems to be a good thing that God would approve of. But that’s not to say that anybody should feel free to pursue learning in this way, because there may be some bad habits that could be easily developed in the meantime that are hard to overcome, not to mention the fact that the guy could be caught and fined or thrown in jail – and how well will he be able to support his family in that case? Considering the cons, then, has the action of hacking done more harm than good? A more ideal situation, most would agree, would be to gain the computer networking knowledge in an honest way, whether through school or some other method, and then proceed to use the skills developed to support his family without ever risking breaking the law and being fined or put in prison.
Likewise, it may be true that indulgence in illicit sex, or drugs, or alcohol, or other ill-advised practices may give people an outlet for venting, which may make them feel relieved and more able to face certain difficulties of life for a brief time, but these things can also be addictive and habit-forming. This may lead to some fairly destructive actions that will land the person in some serious permanent trouble. Furthermore, there can be other perfectly good and wholesome alternative methods to obtain relief from stress and the demands of life, without becoming addicted. My point is, these things we are tempted to do on occasion (which God may refer to as “sin,” or going against His will) do more harm than good, and we would be best served avoiding them altogether.