I have such a longstanding love hate relationship with the news and with television in general. I will tell you straight up that I am getting tired of turning on the television and seeing another news report about a celebrity or sports figure who is running from the law or in trouble with his marriage because of infidelity and in the next breath we hear of the pay they are getting to just play games, act as spokespersons for some product, or star in movies for people’s entertainment.
I used to live in Arizona and one thing that has so infuriated me is the owners of these sports franchises who can twist and manipulate the truth and end up getting taxpayers to fund the construction of sports arenas with the enticement that it will draw tourism and such. All the while, we have to hear about another “supposed” role model getting in serious trouble with the law and in most cases, just getting their hands slapped.
This attitude permeates our society and everything in it. The headline of a recent ad for athletic shoes proudly proclaims, “Just do it!” When they came out with this, in the trade magazines they explained the principle behind it. “We are 1hedonists and we want what feels good.” The copy continues, ” It doesn’t matter who scores. It doesn’t matter who falls. What matters is the oath they take: to stick together through thick and thin no matter who gets the ball. They know this is a marriage. They do not believe in divorce.”
This ad represents the worst and the best of modern culture. Now before you allow yourself to be shocked by this statement, let me explain what I mean. The headline perpetuates the destructive, self-centered, I-only-care-about-what-feels-good-for-me attitude of the “me” generation that has sent our culture into its current tailspin.
The loyalty reflected in the copy is a commendable commodity these days, if quite rare AND if applied to a lifestyle of harmony with others. The trouble is, these same 1hedonists are highly unlikely to take this same loyalty into a real marriage relationship. In fact, we see this very lack of loyalty and commitment plastered across the headlines on an ever continuing basis. Ironically, teammates still retain a loyalty even though in real life loyalty is just an abstract thought when it concerns the important things in life. Loyalty to an oath and sticking together through thick and thin no matter what, is fine in sports. Sadly, in real life, too many of us want only what feels good right now, we want immediate and unequivocal pleasure in the moment. As the tagline in the same ad says, “If it feels good then, just do it.”
Just a few years ago now while we still lived in Arizona, a high profile celebrity couple announced the decision to divorce. One spouse went into the relationship believing that it was “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, etc.,” and the other spouse went into the marriage with the idea that as long as it feels good, and as long as I’m happy, it will last. This former spouse is already off on another “conquest” and still making headlines. Yet the public is “forgiving,” according to one sports/news commentator. Even the sports public is involved in the immediate pleasure ideology as long as the sports they love continues!
This is what has been perpetrated on the world by those that others continue to claim are our role-models! This is what the various medias tell us is the proof of success. Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.”
For those unsure of what 1hedonism is or means, see the explanation I provided below:
1Hedonism (Greek hēdonē, “pleasure”), in philosophy, the doctrine that pleasure is the sole or chief good in life and that the pursuit of it is the ideal aim of conduct. Two important hedonistic theories were expounded in ancient Greece. The Cyrenaics, or egoistic hedonists, espoused a doctrine in which gratification of one’s immediate personal desires, without regard for other persons, is considered the supreme end of existence. Knowledge, according to the Cyrenaics, is rooted in the fleeting sensations of the moment, and it is therefore futile to attempt the formulation of a system of moral values in which the desirability of present pleasures is weighed against the pain they may cause in the future. Unlike the egoistic hedonists, the Epicureans, or rational hedonists, contended that the true pleasure is attainable only by reason. They stressed the virtues of self-control and prudence. Both doctrines survived practically without change until modern times. In the 18th and 19th centuries such British philosophers as Jeremy Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill propounded the doctrine of universalistic hedonism, better known as utilitarianism. According to this theory, the ultimate criterion of human behavior is the good of society, and the guiding principle of individual moral conduct is allegiance to that which procures and promotes the welfare of the greatest number of people.
How to cite this article: “Hedonism,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
It doesn’t take a long article to express what 1hedonism is. The part I want you to meditate on is the second paragraph that starts out by saying that the doctrines have survived into our century without barely any changes! All you have to do is turn on the television or radio news, open a newspaper or magazine or browse the internet!
The difference now of course is the media that is just about instantaneous and at the same time, everywhere at once. We are bombarded with these doctrines and ideology every day in everything we see and in most cases even in the activities we indulge in. Even our governments have political parties that espouse this lifestyle openly and actively at every stage of politics. It is like the scales of morality are tipping more towards the instant gratification and “give me more” now, than the conservative ideals espoused by the doctrines and writings of the Bible.
I know I quote this Scripture a lot, but it shows the dichotomy of what the world espouses as the highest achievements and what Christ Jesus tells us is the ultimate achievement. Jesus had just confounded some of the Scribes and several Pharisees, religious lawyers, tried to test Him and this is the result as stated in Matthew 22:35-40, “Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (NKJV)
It has been said so many times that history has a way of repeating itself and sadly, this seems to be the case even in our modern civilization. The early Roman Empire was one of the greatest nations in the world and many other nations tried to be just like them. But, in their greatness they started to realize that with all their great accomplishments, they were still looking for something. They chose entertainment much like our modern society today. The coliseums, large and small were places of gathering for plays and staged re-enactments of past battles and adventures. When that wasn’t enough, they indulged in the gladiatorial sports and when that didn’t satisfy their lust for pleasure, they upped the stakes by sports-like, life and death gladiatorial events that drew people from far and wide. Doesn’t the evolution of Rome, with its governing bodies and its compassion for violent sports AND entertainment, tell us something about ourselves today? We all know what these circumstances, and the desire for extreme pleasure led too eventually with the Roman Empire!
This leaves me wanting to ask this question, “Is this the better world that the revolts and rebellions of the sixties and seventies promised? Are games and celebrity, and the desire to be satiated with immediate pleasure, truly more important than life itself? How much more like the Roman Empire must we become before ever learning from their history? Is this REALLY what we all want?”
If you don’t believe we are following down the same path, just look at our governing bodies. They no longer look at themselves as SERVANTS of the people, but in fact have evolved more like masters of our lives in almost every avenue of life. Including what we should eat and how we should talk! Is this REALLY what we all want?
In closing, I want to remind you that the only real role-model we have is Jesus Christ, Himself. Second to that is what the Apostle Paul told Timothy and others in his writings, to remember his (Paul’s) example as he walks in Christ. We can follow others only as they follow the lifestyle of Jesus Christ. Ultimately it is Jesus Christ who will always be the only true role-model. As stated in the scriptures in Matthew, we aren’t to look for our immediate gratification or pleasure, but first look to God, our Almighty Father for direction, (then follow that direction as an act of love), and second, to look to the NEEDS of our brothers and sisters (our neighbors all around us) and act upon those needs!
I am not saying we can’t enjoy life or find pleasure in the things we do, but rather than rely on others to provide our pleasure, why not give of ourselves so that others can also experience joy in their lives! As Christ Jesus stated, “the poor shall always be among us.” There is always SOMETHING each of us can do and it doesn’t have to be large and extravagant! Sometimes, a simple smile towards someone who is burdened can make major difference in someone’s life!
One final thought to all of you who are awaiting the Lord’s eminent return; I know this is just another example of how the world must turn for the Lord to return. It is easy to say that it will get worse intellectually, it is totally another thing to actually live with those changes day in and day out and try to keep our spiritual joy! It is all the more reason we need intimacy with the Lord, our spirit to His, and why we need the fellowship of one another as we each attempt to follow after Christ Jesus.
Remember Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, using the example of their much-loved sports, 1Corinthians 9:24-25, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”