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Taming the hedonism in you

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Group of friends celebrating with champagne

By Pr Isaiah White

Since 2020, Uganda has been under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, some sectors have been operating, although others were dormant and closed.

On January 1, 2022, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni lifted lockdown restrictions from some economic and social sectors, for the country to regain its socio-economic strength.

However, bars, disco halls, entertainment and performing arts were still not allowed to operate January 24, this year.

The entertainment industry has entrepreneurs, high-end investors, and has one of the largest consumer markets, of all industrial sectors in the country.

While it is an employment hub to some, to others it is a career, and to the majority it is a world of pleasure and happiness, where they seek meaning and fulfilment.

The Bible warns us against pleasure in many scriptures but for now, I will reference James 4:1 that says:
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?”

In 1 Timothy also, the word of God says: “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.”

God’s word is neither against pleasure, nor advocating for asceticism (the moral rejection of pleasure and abstinent behaviour), but rather turning the pursuit of pleasure into the meaning of life is what God calls unethical and therefore wrong.

It is for this matter that James 5:5 goes ahead to say: “You have lived on the Earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” To live for pleasure is termed as ‘Hedonism’.

People find so much pleasures in food and drinks. (Photo/Chano8)

What is Hedonism?
Doctor Ruut Veenhoven of Erasmus University, Netherlands, writes:
“The term ‘hedonism’ is used in several contexts. In moral philosophy, it denotes the view that a good life should be a pleasurable life. In psychology, it stands for the theory that pleasure-seeking is the main motivator of human behaviour”.
To Veenhoven, hedonism is a way of life in which pleasure plays an important role.

In other words, it is a life that cannot deny itself pleasure and one makes it a lifestyle to pursue pleasure at all costs.

A hedonist has an unchecked pursuit of joy and gladness. Prophet Isaiah writes: “A hedonist is always slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine, while saying; ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:13).

Hedonism is hopelessness in the afterlife. Its core idea that you only live once is what makes it unchristian and, therefore, not suited for Christians who hope for a better world.

The Hedonistic paradox
The initial temptation in the fall of man was hedonistic.

In Genesis 3:6 we are told: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”

Look at the 3Ds in this temptation to the woman. The tree was delicious, delightful and desirable.

These are the defining principles of a hedonistic lifestyle.

Eve had good intentions for her life, but as the story manifests, she finds herself in a mess, and that is the paradox of hedonism.

Paradoxically, in looking to satisfy your lusts, you might end up messing up or trapped in a place you cannot get out of.

Hedonism is shortsighted egoism that does not focus on the big picture, but rather on the immediate lust.

A hedonist is committed to satisfying by all means the lusts, urges, and appetites of his sinful nature at any cost, even when it means violating their ethical fabric.

Therefore, it is a moral decay of overindulgence and pleasure outside principle.

A hedonist is duped to think that he will get satisfaction and escape his pain.

He engages in frequent sex, alcohol consumption, occasional ecstasy, gambling, eating, going to disco halls to dance all night, abusing drugs and the use of stimulants, watching pornography, and all sorts of entertainment.

However, he only finds himself in multiplied pain the next day.

This is exactly what Proverbs 23:26-35 means. “At last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.”

Group of friends celebrating with champagne. (Photo/The Drinks Business)

Taming your desire
The desire for pleasure in delicious and delightful things is inherent in us, but each of us must intend to be ethical about it.

We ought to ask the Holy Spirit to grow the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:23) in us.

If we do not tame this pleasure-seeking instinct in us, it will grow wild and devour us.

We either master it now or it masters us when we become hedonists.

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