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March 1, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Is Biblical Christianity Masochistic?

Christians and Suffering in Context:

No. Only someone who de-contextualized the text entirely from its core message would think that it was masochistic.

Christians and Suffering in Context:
1) Heaven. Heaven is presented as paradise. Therefor the prize for faith and obedience is seemingly the opposite of suffering.
With a Higher Purpose. To be masochistic glorification–it would have to be intrinsically praised–which it is not. Its not pain for the sake of pain–but pain for the sake of a higher purpose. Pain in the context of the Bible always serves a spiritual purpose. Masochism serves no higher purpose–its suffering for suffering sake. Biblical sacrifice and suffering–is in service to others (humanity) and/or God.

2) Self-Control. The pain endorsed in the Bible is not all that different from the pain endured in sport, except that the pain in the Bible tends to be a bit more sacrificial. Service to your fellow man. All great things require this kind of dedication, drive, and sacrifice.

3) Ethics, Character, and Virtue. Most all virtue, character development, and ethical system require sacrifice for a higher good. They require suspending the ego or present pleasure for some intrinsic or extrinsic good in the future.

4) Bible Characters and Heros. There aren’t any Bible characters who their life is all suffering or they are praised for being masochist.

5) More Biblical Context on Pleasure. The Bible speaks positively about joy. In fact the message of most all the fruits of the spirit has some degree of joy that goes along with it. Moreover, any love based commitment or relationship will require at least a partial denial of self.

6) God’s Comfort for Suffering. Also there are Bible verses about God and the Holy Spirit comforting those who are suffering. (again, its not suffering for suffering sake). And Jesus’ ministry is about the removal of spiritual and physical suffering.

7) Defining Flesh-The way this seems to be contextualized in most people’s lives as well as how the text defines it–the flesh is the sins of the flesh. (the message is stop being led around by your selfish, short-sighted desires and take on a fuller meaning, a higher purpose, and a more important mission in the world)

8] Why this Question is a Veiled Straw-Person. To my knowledge there is no verse that says “suffering is always good” and the Epistles don’t really talk about “you’re not suffering enough.”

Catholic Church and Suffering:
1) The stuff about the Catholic church is irrelevant to most practicing Christians.
2) I don’t think most Catholics interpret that letter from March 1986 in the way you happen to interpret it.
3) There aren’t all that many people who have the dedication or perspective of Mother Theresa.

So Whats at Stake? What are the Implications of the Question?:
I don’t think we would call people who played sports at the highest level, volunteered, had a giving spirit, or who wanted to be a better person a masochist. Disparaging people who want to make a better life for themselves in terms of virtue, character, duty, and courage is generally something good–not only for themselves–but for their communities.

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Old Version:

1) Heaven. Heaven is presented as paradise. Therefor the prize for faith and obedience is seemingly the opposite of suffering.
With a Higher Purpose. To be masochistic glorification–it would have to be intrinsically praised–which it is not. Its not pain for the sake of pain–but pain for the sake of a higher purpose. Pain in the context of the Bible always serves a spiritual purpose. Masochism serves no higher purpose–its suffering for suffering sake. Biblical sacrifice and suffering–is in service to others (humanity) and/or God.

2) Self-Control. The pain endorsed in the Bible is not all that different from the pain endured in sport, except that the pain in the Bible tends to be a bit more sacrificial. Service to your fellow man. All great things require this kind of dedication, drive, and sacrifice.

3) Ethics, Character, and Virtue. Most all virtue, character development, and ethical system require sacrifice for a higher good. They require suspending the ego or present pleasure for some intrinsic or extrinsic good in the future.

4) Bible Characters and Heros. There aren’t any Bible characters who their life is all suffering or they are praised for being masochist.

5) More Biblical Context on Pleasure. The Bible speaks positively about joy.

6) God’s Comfort for Suffering. Also there are Bible verses about God and the Holy Spirit comforting those who are suffering. (again, its not suffering for suffering sake). And Jesus’ ministry is about the removal of spiritual and physical suffering.

7) Why this Question is a Veiled Straw-Person. To my knowledge there is no verse that says “suffering is always good” and the Epistles don’t really talk about “you’re not suffering enough.”

Catholic Church and Suffering:
1) The stuff about the Catholic church is irrelevant to most practicing Christians.
2) I don’t think most Catholics interpret that letter from March 1986 in the way you happen to interpret it.
3) There aren’t all that many people who have the dedication or perspective of Mother Theresa.

So Whats at Stake? What are the Implications of the Question?:
I don’t think we would call people who played sports at the highest level, volunteered, had a giving spirit, or who wanted to be a better person a masochist. Disparaging people who want to make a better life for themselves in terms of virtue, character, duty, and courage is generally something good–not only for themselves–but for their communities.

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