July 25, 2018

Christian Thoughtcrime

Adultery Inc
Photo by Toho Scope [CC BY-SA 2.0]
Among atheists, it is not a secret that most Christians do not seem to believe much of what they claim to believe. If they did, they would behave quite differently from how they behave. No, I'm not expecting Christians to be perfect. I'm not suggesting that they would never deviate from their stated beliefs. Like everyone else, they'd make mistakes. But it seems pretty clear that most aren't even trying to do many of the things they'd be trying to do if they believed what they often claim to believe.

Sabio Lantz (Triangulations) brings us one of many good passages from a book many Christians insist is "holy" to illustrate something relevant here: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." This bit of "wisdom" is from Matthew 5:28 [NIV], and it gives us a good opportunity to ask ourselves a question we should probably raise more often: How would a Christian who really believed this behave? How similar is this to how most Christians behave now?

Adultery, if I am not mistaken, is supposed to be "sinful." In the bible, it probably carries some fairly severe punishments, both in this life and the next. And yet, it is fairly normal for healthy young heterosexual men to notice and even desire women they regard as attractive. What we have here looks an awful lot like Christian thoughtcrime. Thinking impure thoughts is equated with behavior. And that could mean that having such thoughts is more than enough to justify punishment.

So how would a Christian who really believed this behave? They'd certainly steer clear of pornography, wouldn't they? Perhaps they'd emulate some of the strategies we see Muslims use. They could demand that women be covered whenever men are present to make it less likely that men would notice them. They could promote extreme gender segregation to keep women and men apart. Muslims seem to have many interesting ideas Christians could borrow. And so does Vice President Mike Pence for that matter. Maybe his nonsense about not being around other women unless his wife is present means that he might be one of the few who actually believes this.

As I have said previously, I think that the fear of one's own mind it promotes is one of the worst things about Christianity. This idea of looking at a woman "lustfully" being equivalent to adultery is a potent example of the sort of thing I had in mind. There are far too many others. I think it is a good thing most Christians don't act like they believe this; it would be better if they'd stop pretending otherwise. And yes, it would be even better if they would stop teaching this garbage to impressionable children.