"YOLO," or the phrase "you only live once," is a term that came into popularity somewhere in 2012, but it's still getting lots of use. YOLO promotes a let loose, who-cares lifestyle. The philosophy is communicated well enough in its name: you got one life, so pull out all the stops, and do everything. (And they mean everything.)
YOLO gets a bad rap because of its blatant disregard for thinking through an action to consider its consequences. While you can find the #yolo Twitter hashtag attached to things as harmless as a switch in breakfast choices ("Putting chocolate chips on my yogurt because #YOLO"), the general culture bred around the term is one of ingrained sensuality and recklessness ("Going home with a cute guy I just met because #YOLO").
With a "you only live once" attitude, actions that would have brought about, at best, disapproval can now be justified with one simple acronym. Will this wild party leave you hung over at work in the morning? Maybe, but YOLO! Is shoplifting a tub of ice cream going to end well? Probably not, but YOLO!
Some might argue that Solomon promoted a brand of "YOLO" in Ecclesiastes 8:15, which says, "So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun." But if you read this verse in context, we can see that Solomon is basically saying, "We should be thankful for our lot in life, whatever it is. We should eat our food, drink our wine, and be happy." In other words, embracing joy when we have it is good, but we should not indulge in it forever.
To accept the argument that "you only live once so do whatever you want" would be to deny other passages in Scripture which condemn the shortsighted, foolish type of living YOLO promotes.
Psalm 90:12 says, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." Ephesians 5:15 says, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." First Corinthians 10:23 says, "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."
While trying new things isn't inherently evil, or even bad, the types of things the YOLO culture seems focused on do not generally bring glory to God. Use common sense and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance when you're not sure. Ask, "Would this action reflect how God wants me to live?" It's true that you only live once on this earth; make the most of this life!
All that said, please know that God is not some kind of cosmic killjoy as He is sometimes portrayed. But He does see more of the big picture than we ever will, so if He says in His Word that something is not good, then it is something to be avoided regardless of whether or not the world approves.
"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment." —Ecclesiastes 11:9
To accept the argument that "you only live once so do whatever you want" would be to deny other passages in Scripture which condemn the shortsighted, foolish type of living YOLO promotes. Ephesians 5:15 says, "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." So how should a Christian view YOLO? Here's our answer: CAREFULLY (1 Corinthians 10:23).
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.