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Father Oleg Molenko Answers Questions

Yaroslav, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Father Oleg, I have a question which is difficult to me.
Where does the sinful edge lie in the desire for material things?
Here is a simple earthly example: I want to buy a refrigerator because the one I have now is old and worn-out. (Instead of “refrigerator” you can put any other thing).
What is the harmfulness in this? In the mere desire to buy a refrigerator? In the desire to buy a good one? Any purchase and desire can be justified by a necessity, can’t it? And we all want something all the time and buy something. For example, I love taking pictures for memory and consider it necessary for my family. That’s why I’ll never buy myself a camera for $ 200 but rather an $ 800 worth one, if I have the money. What is depravity here?

  Father Oleg's Answer

The sinful edge towards material things lies in the lust, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. In other words, in a passionate affection (addiction) for things.

Matthew 6
21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.

The soul is created for God and can be “made full” only by Him. If God is replaced by an earthly thing (including a person perceived as a mere object or as an instrument of earthly gain), then a soul is committing adultery against God and turns things (things, a person) into an idol. Because of this it becomes even more earthly, dull and hardly perceives anything pertaining to God, if perceives it at all. This very hardening and materialization (externalization) of human spirit, as a result of worship of things (mammon), and implantation of their images in human spirit is the worst harm done by being addicted to them.

It’s possible to be addicted to a thing worth 200 dollars and to be indifferent to a thing worth 800. It’s not about the cost or the price of a thing, but the necessity or need. The Scripture says, “Riches are transient, do not set your heart on them”.

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Fr. Oleg Molenko