I received a question in my Inbox I wanted to discuss
Isn’t luxury a vice with the stoics?
& Didnt Marcus Aurelius have a problem with Christians doing good out of the threat of torture from God?
Thanks for taking the time out of your day to message me. First your opinion as two parts but comes across as biased. It’s important to note that Marcus Aurelius was in fact an emperor and one of the last great emperor’s of the Roman empire. His approach to stoicism was to control his thoughts and his actions this is seen throughout his journal ‘The Meditations’.
As an emperor of one of the greatest nations he would have enjoyed luxuries and did not in fact denounce them. He did encourage himself to make himself go through hardships (which would be minor inconveniences by the standard of how he lived) so that he kept awareness and above all acted with reason. Which was important to him. Luxury in itself is relative. What may be luxurious to me may not be to you.
Evidence from a Stotic perspective
“Almost nothing material is needed for a happy life, for he who has understood existence.” - Marcus Aurelius
“Be content to seem what you really are.”
“Live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true nor just.”
“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.”
Here M. Aurelius is talking about necessities and luxuries equally, he is talking about contentment coming from within not from outward sources. His emphasis on virtues are of the spiritual nature rather than the corporeal, however on multiple occasions he encourages himself to be consumed by what he does as the Bible several times in Proverbs and general common sense show, consistency and wisdom in almost any task leads to success.
“A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions.” I would argue that he encourage to strive for excellence, which is associated with luxury for better or worse. As for Faith, Marcus Aurelius was devout to his gods and I am to my God Jesus Christ. He is believed to have said
“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
Here he suggests living by virtues, whatever we choose them to be
“If the gods have determined about me and about the things which must happen to me, they have determined well, for it is not easy even to imagine a deity without forethought; and as to doing me harm, why should they have any desire towards that…?“
In, the second part of your opinion, it presupposes an argument which I do not agree with, which is that Christians do good works out of fear of torture from God. This directly contradicts that Christians do not have a spirit of bondage to sins but are free through Christ Jesus to experience the abundant life in
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” and
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." Psalm 56:3 and, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
or 2 Timothy 1:7 !His spirit of sonship encourages us to do good works because we love our neighbours which we are only capable of doing when we remember his love for us. As it pertains to torture God says
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
or 1 John 4:18 and “But now, this is what the Lord says…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” subsequently,
Isaiah 43:1“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
Not doing that, :D Read it or don’t.
The above was edited for clarity before I got lazy