Hedonism Condemned

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This passage by Paul serves as a stern warning to the church in Rome. The world of the Roman Empire had slipped into the practices of pagan hedonism. Hedonism is the philosophy/practice of “If it feels good, do it.” In other words, people could do whatever they wished pretty much, as long as they worshiped the caesar.

The Romans had a god for every purpose. Each family pretty much had their own gods that looked out for them, or so they believed.

So Paul wrote the above under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to warn the church to forsake the ways of the pagans. To live according to the Spirit of Christ, instead of the way the society preferred, is what Christians are called to do, both back then, and today. We have some of the same philosophies and practices invading even the church today. Some denominations are actually embracing the same foolish beliefs that God was not serious when He declared that the ONLY sexual relationship He can bless is the monogamous, heterosexual committed relationship of a marriage between one man and one woman.

Anything outside of this, is sin. Yes it is OK to recognize sin. It is not OK to practice sin. We must live by God’s rules. During the sexual revolution, which began in the 1960s and continues to this day, even some Christians fell victim to the lie that pornography could be OK. It and the self-gratification that follows could be harmless. After all, “It doesn’t matter where one gets their appetite, it only matters where they eat.” This is not true. Jesus stated, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) therefore, the magazines, movies, etc. that people turn to are basically sin, and leading us into sin.

This is not really a complicated issue. It is not a popular philosophy, because we have to be subject to rules. We don’t get to just do what we want. Although we are not bound and judged according to the Ten Commandments and the Laws of Moses, we are still responsible to our God, our Creator.

The good news is that God loves us. He will help us to live holy and fulfilling lives. We do not need these pagan, hedonistic, distractions. Seek to live in a way pleasing to your spouse, and God will honor that, and improve your relationships.

by Virgil Stripes

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