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The Failure of Hedonism

Hedonism is defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as: “the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life.” In other words, there is nothing better than pursuing pleasure or happiness.

There was a Greek philosophical school, known as the Cyreniacs, that was founded on this principle. They sought out only pleasure, in any form, as their chief goal in life. They rejected knowledge, logic, ethics, morality, virtue and such, as having no value. The school did not last very long.


Too bad they did not know the Old Testament scriptures. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble. Solomon lived about 700 years earlier and had already proven the failure of their philosophy. He described the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure perfectly in Ecclesiastes 2. “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure...”(Ecl 2:10). And he details the areas. Wine, women, music, parties, buildings, possessions, slaves, laughter - - he did it all -- as much as he wanted and said the result was emptiness. He was miserable in his pursuit. He described his satisfaction as meaningless and as pointless as the attempt to grab the wind (v.11).


Every generation must find the meaning of life. There is a fad in education, and parenting, at the present time which is based on the idea that children should be allowed to discover life for themselves. Defended as a position of enlightenment the pursuit is foolish and borders on child abuse. Would we leave children to “discover” how to read on their own without teaching them letters and giving them prepared books? The most current trend is to allow children to choose whether they want to be a boy or girl or neither. The broken lives will litter our society.


God commanded Israel to know for themselves and then teach their children the laws of God (Dt. 6:6-7). Paul passed along the same to Christians (Eph. 6:4). As Christian morals are discarded by society, there will be an increase in hedonism and the results will be the same as in the days of Noah. (Gen 6:5) “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”


Selfishness will never give rise to lasting happiness. “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov 14:34).


Without God and guidance from the wisdom of God, we are lost, and humanity is lost, in every sense of the word.


- Tim Orbison

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