Monday, August 19, 2019

Viewing Hedonism In Light Of Scripture

"As a worldview, hedonism is concerned with the maximizing of pleasure and the minimizing of pain. At various points in history it has expressed itself crassly. We can think, for example, of the orgies and drunkenness in ancient Greece and Rome. Other hedonists, however, have been more thoughtful and have done their best to minimize the “hedonistic paradox.” A basic problem with hedonism is that in striving to achieve pleasure you may actually find what you most want to avoid — pain. If you reach too far in pursuit of pleasure you might fail and be frustrated, which is painful. Paradoxically, in looking to satisfy your own lusts you might just find a world of hurt. The Epicureans of ancient Greece are an example of these thoughtful hedonists. They pursued pleasure, but not “too much” in order to avoid the negative consequences of failure.

Tyranny is the logical end of hedonism. Perhaps I can maximize my pleasure only by maximizing your pain. A hedonistic worldview cannot consistently condemn me, since, after all, I am just seeking my own pleasure. Thoughtful hedonists might say pleasure is found only if no one is harmed, but this is an appeal to an objective idea of pleasure, which hedonism denies. Only the group with the most power can maximize its own pleasure when a transcendent norm does not define pleasure.

In part, Christianity is about the pursuit of pleasure, but this pleasure is one that is defined by a transcendent God. Christ says true pleasure is found in life eternal, which, to hedonism’s disgust, can only be found by those who are willing to endure intense pain for the Lord (Matt. 16:24).

Hedonism tends to say that the only pleasure worth having is sensual in nature. It is ultimately a futile pursuit, as Solomon says in today’s passage [Ecclesiastes 2:1-11]. We are made to have a relationship with an infinite being, and therefore nothing finite can satisfy us permanently. Jesus alone can complete us. As we pursue Him, Christ satisfies us (Matt. 11:30) and will both now, and in eternity, bring us to deeper levels of pleasure in Him."


  1. indeed, the things of this world cannot give us lasting happiness and joy. That void can only be fulfilled within a loving relationship with our Creator. Life finds it's deepest sense of meaning and fulfillment by knowing and serving Christ.