In March of 2019, I ended my life of degeneracy when I turned to Lord Jesus Christ. Since then, I’ve made great strides away from a wretched existence, and am less degenerate than before, but I still find it hard to step away from degeneracy’s little brother—decadence. As if I am living in the last days of burning Rome, I’ve so far failed to give up attachments to the little pleasures and comforts of this world.
I define degeneracy as major sins that are a sign of a life lived far away from God, where He is not at all desired. On the other hand, decadence is composed of smaller sins or worldly attachments that may be done by a struggling Christian. Here is a list of behaviors I’d define as degenerate:
Homosexuality — Sodomy is the champion of degeneracy.
Fornication — Regardless of what modern culture teaches you, fornication is a grave sin, and should never be looked upon as a virtuous alternative to homosexual sex.
Masturbation — God did not design you to fellate yourself to Jewish-produced pornography.
Violence, anger, persecuting others — There are many people who are actively trying to remake the world into their image to experience heaven on earth.
Gluttony — Food is not a god, and if you make it one, you will become ill and physically incapacitated.
Intoxication — The abuse of legal and illegal drugs is a way to escape from God-given reality.
Fame-seeking — You are not a god, no matter how many people in this world sing your praises or proclaim to love you.
Body modification — God made you as a Holy Temple, not as a blank canvas that you can manipulate and distort.
While my past sins were innumerable and multifarious, on this list I most committed fornication, masturbation, intoxication (mostly to enable fornication), and fame-seeking. When I wasn’t treating women as false gods to achieve sexual pleasure from their bodies, I treated myself as a god among men simply because I was so accomplished at worshipping promiscuous women. With God’s grace, I was able to turn away from degeneracy and ease into a life of modern decadence.
Here are some decadent behaviors I’ve identified in the wild:
Exquisite eating — I receive pleasure from the foods I make, like my homemade pizza, breads, and exotic desserts. Sometimes when I’m eating delicious food, I experience so much pleasure that I lose track of time and eat much more than my body can handle.
Not fasting — I aim to keep the Orthodox fast, which trains me not to seek pleasure from food, but I regularly break the spirit of what it means to fast by crafting the Pharisaical counterparts to my favorite foods (e.g., I can make vegan brownies and pancakes that taste like the real thing).
Climate control — People of the past experienced seasons in their homes (summer was hot and required the opening of windows and winter was cold and required bundling up). Today, we feel no indoor temperature discomfort.
Excessive worry over money — Many people are more concerned with growing their bank account than growing their faith. Even more severe is being so obsessed with money that you live for it alone, often coinciding with the sin of greed.
No prayer life — What percentage of a Christian’s life is devoted to prayer?
Neverending accumulation of stuff — Buying junk won’t save your soul, no matter how many great reviews it got on Amazon and how much you “need” it to live a connected or comfortable life.
Hot water — How can I not conclude that every time I turn on the hot water in the shower I am but a mere scrap of a man compared to my male ancestors who did not have hot water on demand? I should feel shame every time I exit the shower and see steam on the medicine cabinet mirror.
Optionality — To the decadent person, it’s important to have options, backup plans, and exit plans. I fear getting stuck in an uncomfortable scenario without an instant solution, and I like to have my “options open” before making a real-world commitment, but the most common result of this mentality is that I never make commitments.
Professional health care for pets — You want your pug to live forever and unto the ages of ages. He’s your best friend, the comforter of your soul. Who needs the comfort of Lord Jesus Christ when you have a goofy dog who is loyal to you because you give it food?
Profanity — I know of no other more reliable sign of someone’s spiritual state than their use of profanity. If someone frequently uses profanity, the language of the demons, do they really fear God?
On the list of decadency, I eat exquisitely, use climate control, shower in steaming hot water for prolonged periods, and pursue optionality. Do these habits completely block my salvation? I hope not, but I know that if I don’t guard against the mild pleasures they bring, I can easily fall back into degeneracy and more serious sins. I must remain watchful about any perceived benefit I receive in this world that causes me to forget about God even for a moment.
What comes upon the person who defeats decadence? A holy Christian life and maybe even sainthood. If you can mortify your body to all the pleasures of this world, no matter how small, and rely upon God alone for all that you need, you will exist in a state that God intended when He created you. May we pray for those participating in degeneracy to ease into decadence with God’s grace and then into their final stage of becoming like the saints.
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