A respectful disagreement with this page
I consider myself to be an extremely devout Christian hedonist. I know this sounds paradoxical, but hear me out.
As defined in the first line of the article, hedonism is made out to be that which is actually egoism, and even worse, perhaps that which is practiced by libertines. This is not true at all. What hedonism is about is the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain, for both oneself and others. That is moral. Conversely, causing pain and the prevention of the pleasure of others is immoral. I personally weigh others before myself by default when making moral decisions, as did Christ in the most important decision of them all- His sacrifice for all of us. However, if I know that the specific other(s) is(are) wicked, I place myself before them. If unsure, I consider the other person(s) and I as equals while trying to gain more knowledge. You can basically replace the words pleasure and pain with right and wrong, respectively, and still end up with the same principles.
Obviously, nearly everything outlined as sin in the Bible is automatically immoral because it pains God. That covers the majority of ethical dilemmas for me, but I've found myself in question due to a few conflicts. Examples are as follows:
-was it immoral to murder Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? The act of doing so prevented a great deal of human suffering, so I think not.
-is killing a stranger who killed a relative of yours immoral? You would have no way of knowing whether they would repent and do good in the future, so I think no- simply let the police handle it.
-is violently avenging a rapist immoral? That depends. If there's strong evidence that he will cause a great deal of pain from your inaction by continuing to rape in the future, and the police will do nothing to stop him, yes. If it's a once-off, no.
-is stealing food to feed your starving family immoral? No if your pain is eased and theirs is unaffected due to being rich, yes if they needed that food just as badly as you and yours.
-is abortion immoral? It causes nothing but pain, so yes.
-is gay conversion therapy immoral? The subject of said therapy will have an opportunity to be saved, so no, it is very moral.
-is atheism immoral? Of course, since atheists are choosing to be damned.
-is liberalism immoral? Again of course, since enacting their ideals into law causes far more pain than pleasure (if any).
-will a theoretical failure to repeal Obamacare be immoral? Yes, because it clearly causes more pain than pleasure across the entire nation.
In summary, I believe that my choice of ethics is widely misconstrued and can be consistent with devout Christianity. I think Epicurus poisoned the well, so to speak, by being both the most famous example of a hedonist, an atheist, and a deviant all at the same time. --Pious 22:52, 18 July 2016 (CDT)
- I see what you are saying, but I'm not quite convinced. What I'm seeing from this article and a couple other resources like Merriam-Webster is that hedonism is a complete focus on the fun and thrills of life. It disregards all morals and instead seeks as much fun and as little pain and disappointment in the progress. Someone with poor judgement might just do something exciting and ignore the impending consequences, but this is more responsible thrill-seeking, since the consequences are thought out. However, this does not seem to involve the seeking of enjoyment for others. It is a purely selfish belief.
- What I see from your response to this is that you are seeking the good of yourself and others. You would like everyone to enjoy themselves and avoid pain as much as possible, but which of the following is most important to you: God, others' well-being, responsibility, morals, or enjoyment. Of course a couple of those are similar, but I think a true Christian would answer "God" every time. If this or any of the other options other than "enjoyment" were your choice, then I don't think you can truly be a hedonist.
- No one likes pain, and everyone like some enjoyment, but hedonism seems to be a selfish belief that this trumps all else. A Christian in some cases will accept pain because morals and God's decrees are more important to them. Whether they go through torture for their faith, or simple choose to give time and/or money to others, they are going against hedonist beliefs.
- This is my understanding of the subject. Did I go wrong somewhere? --David B (TALK) 08:45, 19 July 2016 (EDT)
- God is always first. I use hedonism as my system of ethics when faced with a moral choice and I can't find an answer in the Bible, which naturally is not that often. When doing so, I weigh the pain and pleasure of the other person as equal to my own, in accordance with the Golden Rule. Any exceptions to those personal guidelines have to have very good reasons behind them. For examples of going against the Bible, I would only steal from a store if I were starving and had literally NO other options. Similarly, I would kill a burglar in genuine self defense- in that case, all his future pain and pleasure is ended immediately, and if he's the sort of person to rob houses and doesn't mind carrying a gun to do it, he would've almost certainly caused more future pain than pleasure as a whole by being allowed to continue living. As for myself, I'm too busy doing the Lord's work to die. For other examples, have I euthanized a dying cat before? Of course- its continued existence is pain for it. Have been hungry and given food to someone who needs it more? Yes- the pleasure they receive outweighs the pain I suffer.
- The common confusion about hedonism is that it did in fact begin as a very selfish, Pagan and wicked philosophy. That was a very long time ago however, and its meaning has changed since that ancient, Godless era. Selfish hedonism has been reclassified as egoism, something different entirely. I hope this clears things up. --Pious (talk) 18:38, 19 July 2016 (CDT)
- I have very little knowledge on the topic, but all I can find elsewhere still points to it being an entirely selfish belief. Perhaps they are confused, though. Of course, I do not mean your stance is selfish--it's quite the opposite. I agree with the morals of of most of what you said, though my first consideration when there is no clear guidance in the Bible would be, "what would best honor God and/or build up believers?" The choice would probably end the same way, but I would just ask the question differently.
- Anyway, back on the topic of Hedonism, if you are confident in you stance on this, and have sources to back you up, I'd say you should go ahead and explain this change and confusion. I can't speak for everyone here, but it seems to me that such work would be helpful. However, I do think if you do work on this, you should point out that some do hold to the selfish philosophy. I'm actually hoping that someone else is watching this discussion and can give their insights, but if not I'd say you might as well go for it. --David B (TALK) 23:41, 19 July 2016 (EDT)
- I will, thank you. One of the most key points that I didn't mention, and am even surprised at myself for not doing so, is that there is no greater pleasure to oneself or society as a whole than serving God. That pleasure applies to both this life and the next. --Pious (talk) 23:21, 20 July 2016 (CDT)
- There's a kind of Christian Hedonism in Reformed Theology, especially in the teachings of the Baptist theologian John Piper, the Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, although it seems to be different than some of what's been posted earlier. Piper argues that mankind's greatest happiness lies in obedience to God and in the promise of heaven, and that we should obey God because we know that doing so will make us happier than disobeying Him. It's a controversial position, and certainly a minority one, but it's out there. Generally, though, when somebody talks about "Christian Hedonism", they're talking about the teachings of Piper or other people with similar views, like Dan Fuller and Sam Storms, who are also Baptist theologians.--Whizkid (talk) 00:28, 20 July 2016 (EDT)
- When I was taught about hedonism in college, I was not made aware that what I was learning was a minority view. My philosophy professor was in fact himself seeking a Doctorate in Theology. Perhaps it would be best to make a separate entry for Christian hedonism, then briefly mention and link to it in this article? --Pious (talk) 23:32, 19 July 2016 (CDT)
Pious, you wrote: "What hedonism is about is the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain, for both oneself and others."
Where are you getting your definition of hedonism from? It seems to me that you are creating your own definition of the word. Whenever I have seen the word hedonism used it was in the context of selfishness and not altruism. Conservative (talk) 07:18, 20 July 2016 (EDT)
- Thanks for your input, Whizkid and Conservative! I seem to be well out of not only my area of expertise but also my area of familiarity. I guess I need to do more reading and less writing. Anyway, Whizkid's explanation makes a lot of sense to me anyway. I'd wondered before if Conservative's question was applicable, (regarding whether you had a unique definition for this or not) and now it seems it is. What I'm hearing from every angle is that hedonism is all about self. It would make sense, therefore, that even Christian Hedonism would be about serving God for the purpose of self, which is not the reason God wants us to have for obedience and service. Anyway, if we can get the self only vs self and others issue resolved, I'd agree with making a separate Christian Hedonism section. I don't think you would need to link to this page, since it is the talk page of hedonism already. --David B (TALK) 08:17, 20 July 2016 (EDT)
- To be honest, I'm generally going by what I learned in philosophy class. My professor put a Christian emphasis on every redeemable branch of ethics (which moral relativism isn't). I'll search for sources. --Pious (talk) 16:31, 20 July 2016 (CDT)
- Well, I'd say it's not so much that ethical hedonism is about self so much as it is about believing that happiness is the greatest good. This can be either selfish or selfless. So, for instance, Jeremy Bentham's defintion of Utilitarianism (which is a hedonistic philosophy) was "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong", which isn't a selfish philosophy. A person could say "Well, even though this action would be painful to me, it's going to cause others more pleasure than it causes me, so it's right to do it.", or "Even though it would make me happy to do this thing, it would hurt others more than it would benefit me, so it would be wrong. Hedonism is more of a general category than a specific philosophy, and it's the group of philosophies that says, "Happiness is goodness, unhappiness is evil." As for Christian hedonism being a minority view in Christianity, most Christianity says that while following God's commandments will probably make you a happier person, you shouldn't follow them for that reason, but because God commands them and its a good thing to do what God wants and bad to do what He doesn't. The source of goodness isn't happiness. The source of goodness is God. And the long list of martyrs in Christianity shows that there are times when following God's commandments is going to make you suffer or even die. Stephen in the bible probably would rather not have been stoned to death if that were the choice in isolation, Jan Huss probably would rather not have been burned at the stake, and Maximilian Kolbe probably would rather not have gone to the gas chamber. But their love for God and their fellow man, and their desire to do what they understood God wanted them to do was stronger than their fear and their desire to stay alive. --Whizkid (talk) 19:27, 20 July 2016 (EDT)