Reflections on Hedonism
30 January, 2020
How deceitful pleasure can be! When we put our own comfort and joys and situations ahead of right and truth and suffering. All the discomfort and pain which might have served to correct and strengthen our souls is avoided and shunned in preference for pleasure and comfort.
Lactantius, a church father of the early fourth century, has this to say about hedonism:
“Therefore he who is anxious for the truth, who does not wish to deceive himself, must lay aside hurtful and injurious pleasures, which would bind the mind to themselves, as pleasant food does the body: true things must be preferred to false, eternal things to those which are of short duration, useful things to those which are pleasant. Let nothing be pleasing to the sight but that which you see to be done with piety and justice; let nothing be agreeable to the hearing but that which nourishes the soul and makes you a better man. And especially this sense ought not to be distorted to vice, since it is given to us for this purpose, that we might gain the knowledge of God. Therefore, if it be a pleasure to hear melodies and songs, let it be pleasant to sing and hear the praises of God. This is true pleasure, which is the attendant and companion of virtue. This is not frail and brief, as those which they desire, who, like cattle, are slaves to the body; but lasting , and affording delight without any intermission. And if any one shall pass its limits, and shall seek nothing else from pleasure but pleasure itself, he designs for himself death; for as there is perpetual life in virtue, so there is death in pleasure. For he who shall choose temporal things will be without things eternal; he who shall prefer earthly things will not have heavenly things.” (“Divine Institutes,” Book VI, Chap. 21, Vol. 7 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers)