American Hedonism and the Church

“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning and the heart of the fool is in the house of jubilation.”

(Ecclesiastes 7:4)

Solomon may seem like he is beating a dead horse with these words, but his purpose is to drive home the importance of finding times of introspection. Even in the context of the worship of God’s people (which is a joyful thing), there must also be times where one ponders the deep things of God’s word and applies them to life. By nature, that does not appeal to us. It is more fun to celebrate and remain in the house of jubilation even if we are surrounded by people who are spiritual fools. Yet, such places is not where wisdom is found.

In American Hedonism, the house of jubilation is the treasured goal. In sports, everything goes to the winners of a game even if winning meant cutting corners or unsportsmanlike conduct. The trophy is the sought out goal. To nurture this obsession, when children are young, the practice is often to reward everyone with a trophy. This is done with the pretext of not wanting children to feel bad about themselves, yet, most often, what this does is to teach children to treasure the trophy that will one day come (hopefully!). Outside of sports, the same principle applies, whether we are talking academic achievements or in awards in a civic organization like Scouts (how often parents work harder at a children’s projects or badges than the children themselves!). 

Many churches have chased after the culture in this, preferring to make their worship services a house of jubilation. Singing is emphasized and sermons tend to be more theologically shallow — even superficial at times — focused on getting people excited rather than getting people to think deeply on the truths of the Word. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying, worship is a joyous activity — both in the gathered/corporate sense and in the personal sense when one worships in one’s daily life — but there also must be a place in worship to drive us into deeper contemplation about the Word of God and the implications thereof. The reality is that none of us are perfected yet if we are still on this side of the veil. That means there is room to learn, grow, and repent of sin harbored in our lives. Worship is not to be about our entertainment or about our being “recharged” for the week to come. It is not about us feeling good about ourselves or about our condition. It is about drawing near to a Holy God in holiness, and while joyous, it ought also make us tremble.

Again, Solomon instructs us to soberly ponder life in light of the word of God. It is something that most people that I know do not like doing because the Holy Spirit will convict you of sin and demand repentance (which includes a change of attitude toward that sin — as well as a change of behavior!). It will place you in the house of mourning if you take your sin seriously. And while unpleasant, it produces wisdom — which is better than folly.

About preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

Posted on August 21, 2018, in Ecclesiastes, Expositions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. So much truth here! So many pulpits now offer motivational talks instead of that “living and active double edged sword”. May conviction start in the pulpit and lead pastors to be fearless – not worry about popularity but God’s approval!


    • Thank you for your kind and correct words…as people sometimes call what comes from many pulpits: “therapeutic moralistic Deism”…

      Blessings in Christ,


      Liked by 1 person

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