I've been thinking recently about the virtue contrasts between the early Christians and the Greeks, the Stoics in particular. In a recent post I'd mentioned that the Greeks privileged self-control while the Christians gave love pride of place.
I'm not sure where I read this, but that discussion reminded me of the contrast some have made between the deaths of Socrates and Jesus. Socrates died the ideal Greek death. Self-composed, stoical, and philosophical. While his students grieved and wept, Socrates calmly drank the hemlock that would kill him.
Jesus, by contrast, sweats blood in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus resists death and is in agony as he faces it. A far cry from Socrates.
In short, the Christian ideal isn't to be stoical. The goal isn't emotional resignation, apathy, or detachment. The Christian ideal is to weep. We see this not only in the garden of Gethsemane, but also in the gospel of John when Jesus confronted the death of his friend. There it says succinctly, "Jesus wept." And in following the Man of Sorrows Christians are commanded to "weep with those who weep."
To be a Christian is to weep. A lot.
Because, it seems to me, weeping is the only way to see the suffering and pain in the world as objectively bad. The goal isn't to stoically accept the pain, suffering, and death. We aren't supposed to be reconciled to the suffering or to see our suffering as an illusion or mistake. We are supposed to emotionally resist. We are supposed to weep. To lament. To cry out. Life isn't okay and I'm not supposed to act like it is. To weep is to object, to protest.
And to be clear, I admire the Stoics. Socrates remains a hero of mine. But in the end, my sensibilities are Christian.