Thursday, March 26, 2009

I think, therefore I kill you.

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment .... You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5: 21-22, 27-28.

I see the Sermon on the Mount get used quite a bit to demonstrate just how sinful everyone is -- while you may not have physically murdered someone, if you were angry with them, that's just as bad. While you may have been physically faithful to your wife, looking at a non-wife woman is just as bad. Emotions and thoughts carry as much weight as actions do in the eyes of God. When you finally stand before God, He'll still have a fierce judgment for you even if all you did was think angry thoughts towards another person.

Yet, if thoughts carry that much weight, hold the same merit as actions do, does that mean that it works in reverse? Say I come across a starving person, and think loving, compassion thoughts towards him, or think about how much I'd love to give him food, and yet physically don't give him anything.

I highly doubt anyone would tell me that thinking about giving him food was just as good as giving him actual food.

Say person A is murdering person B, and I happen to stumble across the crime. I stand there, thinking that I should really stop person A, even picture myself doing so. Yet, I just watch as person B gets killed.

No one would congratulate me for stopping such an awful crime, even though I had good intentions towards doing so.

And we see this same situation in the Bible -- faith without works is dead. If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? James 2: 14-16

Thoughts alone don't seem to carry equal weight when it comes to being judged. Bad thoughts alone are enough to get one condemned, no matter what the action is, but good thoughts alone aren't enough to escape condemnation.

32 comments:

Tit for Tat said...

Good Post.

"Love is not a feeling, but an action."

DagoodS said...

You know the stupid thing about it-- it is our ability to differentiate our thoughts from our actions that allows us to mature in morality.

You walk by an expensive purse in a store. You have a fleeting thought of “If I grabbed the purse and ran; I could have a free purse.” But then another thought passes through about security guards, and shoplifting penalties, and how you would not like it if someone stole YOUR purse, and how we don’t want stores to go to such extreme measures as only having pictures of their merchandise and so on.

It is our ability to HAVE thoughts of evil and reject them that provides us any moral groundwork at all.

This is why Christianity fails to give good grounding to develop a social conscience or interact with people of varying moral beliefs. If even thinking thoughts (something we have no control over) is evil—the Christian is taught:

1) They just sinned;
2) To avoid thinking about it at all costs.

But if I never think of something immoral—how will I know what is immoral? Makes no sense.

Oh, and I wished you good thoughts today, One Small Step, so I hope that counts for something….

OneSmallStep said...

DagoodS,

**If even thinking thoughts (something we have no control over) is evil—the Christian is taught:**

Or to take this a step further. Let's say we have person A who lives his life firmly believing that one must turn the other cheek, that a violent response to a violent act is a horrible response. And then person A finds that his family was suddenly murdered. Person A catches up to the murderer, and all of his thoughts are how person A will get revenge, person A is going to kill the murderer.

And then, at the last minute, person A decides to rise above the need for revenge, and doesn't kill the murderer. Even though person A still hates the murderer.

You and I would congratulate person A on being a good person, on not giving into the need for vengeance, and for being able to keep hisr moral code.

Under this version of Christianity, person A is a sinner, a murderer in his heart, because of his thoughts. God would still find him just as guilty for those thoughts. Under this system, person A shouldn've just pulled the trigger, because the thought has the same amount of guilt as the action.

So can there even be any sort of moral growth or achievement in this type of Christianity?

methodicalmusings.com said...

What a brilliant post. And DagoodS, I totally agree - I had never thought about thoughts influencing morality like that before but it is so true!

In fact it might inspire my next post...

OneSmallStep said...

**I had never thought about thoughts influencing morality like that before but it is so true!**

What I do find useful about the Sermon on the Mount is that it's a warning that all actions start with thoughts. While I don't see hating someone the same as physically killing them, or lusting after someone the same as physically sleeping with them, it also reminds us that it's a lot easier to kill someone you hate, or sleep with someone you lust after. Actions start with thoughts, and it's easier to avoid the actions altogether if the thoughts are cooperating.

However, there's also a difference between a random flash of lust, and constantly thinking about the source of the lust. In DagoodS example, there was a random thought of wanting to take the purse, and then followed up with why it's a bad idea. The matter is then dropped.

However, it might be a lot harder to drop if the person keeps thinking about how much she wants to take that purse.

Yael said...

OSS,
I had to laugh when I saw the title of your post! Very good!

Dagoods,
Right on the money. When I was a kid I figured if God was going to get me for everything anyway I might as well make sure God got me for good reason! Growing up with the mentality that thoughts are equal to action makes it difficult to learn impulse control, that is for sure.

OneSmallStep said...

Yael,

**Growing up with the mentality that thoughts are equal to action makes it difficult to learn impulse control, that is for sure.**

Not only that, I don't see how this can make for any sort of happy or healthy childhood. How often can we control our thoughts in the first place? At least the first impulsive thoughts? And then to believe there's some omnipotent deity who finds you repulsive for things you can't even control in the first place ... we'd find it abhorrent if parents did that, or if we lived in a society that found thoughts equal to actions in terms of punishments.

DagoodS said...

A few notes:

First, the Christians I chummed with would say the “thinking” with lust was one sin—the actual committing it would be another. In the example of a person who thinks of murdering another—it is not the equivalent of murder so they may as well do it anyway. It would be a separate act of sin.

Secondly, this provides a HUGE measure of control. We cannot control our random thoughts—eventually we will have a “bad” thought. Under many Christian paradigms, one sin is sufficient to doom us to hell forever. By creating this system, we inevitably learn we deserve terrible punishment because we looked a little too long at a bikini-clad beauty at the beach.

Further, we enter a constant battle (regardless of what we are doing; we are constantly thinking) where we are certain to sin. It is the old adage, “Don’t think about a pink elephant.” As soon as you said it—to conceptualize what you aren’t supposed to think about—you think about it! Don’t hate. Who? That person who did you wrong, who hurt you, who you are entitled to a crown of glory for not bashing them in the nose every time you see them, who God knows you are doing your best in not hating. The bastard…

Don’t lust. Don’t envy. Don’t have pride. Don’t be selfish. The harder you try to throw those thoughts out, the more you realize how worthless you are because you are constantly throwing them out.

Luckily Jesus will save you if you believe in him hard enough. Otherwise….

Finally, you are right, One Small Step. If we don’t think of it in the first place, we will be less likely to act upon it. The Gospel authors were speaking in hyperbole. If you never even think of it—you won’t do it. So make the “thinking of it” the thing to avoid.

And, to a great extent, this is good advice. If I can learn to be at peace with myself, when that driver cuts me off, rather than start thinking murderous thoughts, go on with my life—I will be a far more relaxed person.

Lorena said...

Wow OsS,

Here is a contradiction that never crossed my mind. I saw it more as an overly heavy burden placed by Jesus on his followers.

I'd like to write a blog post based on these thoughts of yours. Is it OK if I do, and link to here?

OneSmallStep said...

DagoodS,

How would the Christians you associated with define separate acts of sin? What I see a lot is the concept of all sins are equal to God. While a human system would rate bad things -- a scale of 10 being Hitler, a scale of 1 talking behind someone's back, a common response from a Christian would be that God sees both acts equally repulsive.

So when the Christians you know say they are separate, do they mean that one is worse than the other?

**The harder you try to throw those thoughts out, the more you realize how worthless you are because you are constantly throwing them out.**

At which point, we can handily reference Paul saying that whole thing about there was no sin until the law came, and then the law birthed sin or something. I think it's in Romans. How he wouldn't have done sin A until the law told him about sin A, and so forth.

**The Gospel authors were speaking in hyperbole. If you never even think of it—you won’t do it.**

It would be nice if it were treated like that more often in conservative Christian circles.

OneSmallStep said...

Lorena,

Feel free to link back to my blog.

atimetorend said...

Hope this isn't off topic.

I see the Sermon on the Mount get used quite a bit to demonstrate just how sinful everyone is

The response of the people at the end of the sermon on the mount was, "the people were amazed," as opposed to something like, "the people wailed in agony and asked how they could be saved."

I read somewhere (maybe even here?) that this might show the intent of the author may have been different than the interpretation assigned by modern Christians (wow, what a surprise!). The people were amazed, perhaps because it was meant to show that religion wasn't about legalism, as opposed to trying to show how sinful everyone is. Or something like that, something positive to take away rather than negative, or in addition to it.

Reading your post, now I am not so sure about how well that jibes with the thought control aspect; it is hard to get away from that, even if there is a positive there as well. Regardless, the thought control element is what is taught by evangelicals. Maybe it is something to consider when reading the bible, if not for understanding evangelicals.

DagoodS said...

One Small Step: How would the Christians you associated with define separate acts of sin?

*shrug* Beats the shit out of me.

Not sure when one crossed from “thinking” to “doing” that it became a whole and separate sin. Yes, they most certainly did consider some sins worse than others. The Bible does as well (otherwise ALL sins would be Unforgivable and worthy of death, since one such sin qualifies in each category.)

That’s the best part of it. You can always, always, always find a way to determine someone must be sinning somewhere. And some are worse than anything you did. It is the untold statement, but every single Christian I chummed with (including me) thought we were “better” morally than others because we didn’t commit the big sins—murder, rape, pillaging villages. Additionally, we committed fewer of the “minor” sins—gossip, tobacco smoking, drunkenness, swearing. And when we did, we felt really, really awful.

You get a great one-two punch. On the one hand you can find others are worse than you for all the sinning they do; on the other you get to fell better about yourself for all the sinning you don’t do. Or at least feel really bad about doing afterward.

Yes, all sin is sin. Like the breaking of all laws is an illegal act—whether a minor traffic violation or treason. Just some sins, like some laws, draw greater attention from the authorities. In the Christian’s case—the authority being God.

Yael said...

“Don’t think about a pink elephant.” As soon as you said it—to conceptualize what you aren’t supposed to think about—you think about it! (Dagoods)

Good point.

With this point in mind while looking at this story a few questions are raised in my mind.

When Jesus talked about looking on a woman with lust, wouldn't he also have this image in his mind before he spoke the words?

He claimed to know everything about human nature, yet he went ahead and presented this idea anyway, knowing that he would be causing most of the people listening to him to immediately sin by placing this image in their minds?

BTW, I mostly ignore Jesus conversations since what is it to me what other people believe and worship, but this conversation is most interesting. The guy looks worse by the minute.

So I imagine the faithful will tell me that Jesus could say the words without having the thoughts because he was perfect and all that, but...that still doesn't excuse what he did to everyone listening. He made people sin so he could be the answer to their sin? The Christian view on God often makes me think of those deranged parents who make their kids sick so they can be the hero caretaker.

And what about the claim that Jesus was tempted just like everyone else, yet if he never had any thoughts about women and sex flit through his head, how is he tempted like the average male? Jesus, who supposedly never had any juicy thoughts tempting him to act on them is some great understanding model for guys who have to learn to keep at least some of their thoughts under control? How? Some guy prays to Jesus to help him not have all these thoughts on sex and Jesus responds with 'Never had any of those myself, but I totally, totally, understand your struggles'?

Jesus lived to be 30 yet never married and so had no acceptable outlet for any sex drive. So...he's a guy. I'm supposed to believe in 30 years he never got sexually aroused? Yet if he did, what was he thinking about when that happened? His father? Pure thoughts? Surely that will fall into the category of inappropriate sexual responses if he did. But, hey, maybe Jesus was so special that in 30 years he never once experienced arousal. If so, how is he tempted in the same way as all men who do get aroused thus adding to their desire to give in to temptation?

BTW, this is the same kind of scrutiny I give to what I read and am taught within my own tradition, which is why I often roll my eyes and laugh. All of us religious nuts are too amusing with the stuff we try to peddle as 'truth'.

Grace said...

Guys,

Do you truly feel that the average Christian is going around stressing out, and worrying about the possiblity of sinning all day long, or which "sins" are the worse??

I honestly don't think about all this too much at all. To my mind, Jesus is speaking out more against the legalism of the time using hyperbole, and simply judging by outward appearance, as opposed to someone's heart attitude, and inner motives which are important to God.

At any rate, for me the central truth of the "good news," is that we're unconditionally accepted by God in Christ. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. There's a freedom in that for me.

Yael said...

How do you know that the prevailing view of that time was 'legalism'? Based on the assumption that the NT accurately portrays Judaism? Not likely.

DagoodS said...

Grace: Do you truly feel that the average Christian is going around stressing out, and worrying about the possiblity of sinning all day long, or which "sins" are the worse??

The definition of “Christian” has modified from time to time; place to place; culture to culture and person to person. “Christians” can’t even agree on what it means to be a Christian (try claiming a Mormon is a Christian in a Baptist Church. Or state a Catholic is in a strictly fundamentalist background.) Therefore to determine what the “average” is for an undefined term is a waste of time.

You, Grace, may not think about sins very much—this just exemplifies the malleability of the term. Since you don’t—you presume others don’t as well. This is what is so pervasive and viral about Christianity—there are no definite terms. Susan can say, “To me Christianity is….” and John can say, “To me Christianity is….” and Bob can say “To me Christianity is….” and no one can provide a method for us to determine who is right, wrong or otherwise amongst Susan, John and Bob. (And millions of others.) Christianity has become “I think….”

And, I would note, I was careful to indicate these were Christians I chummed with. You are right—not all Christians think alike. I am sure I could have found other Christians to chum with who would have thought differently.

Grace: To my mind, Jesus is speaking out more against the legalism of the time using hyperbole, …

Yael is right—what do you mean by “legalism of the time”? How much study of the First Century Mediterranean culture have you done? And from what source? Are you talking Romans? Greeks? Hellenized Jews? Christians? Judaism? And if Judaism, are you talking about Sadducees? Pharisees? Essenes? Herodians? Zealots? Do you even know the difference between those various groups?

Grace: …and simply judging by outward appearance, as opposed to someone's heart attitude, and inner motives which are important to God.

I am curious—how did you obtain insight into what your God finds important? Why is it God is not interested in outward appearance? And what is a “heart attitude” as compared to “attitude”? If I give my wife a kiss, but am grumpy about it, as compared to being happy and not giving her one—how do you know which God prefers? Where did you determine God’s priority of importance of motives?

Grace, what I see are people creating gods in their own image. Because YOU don’t focus on sins—lo and behold your god doesn’t either. Because the Christians I hung around with did—lo and behold their god doest. Because YOU think “heart attitude” is important—your god does too. Because YOU think “inner motives are important to God/”—your god does too.

Can you see you are merely telling us what YOU think and cloaking it in terms of “God”? (Again, long with millions of others.)

atimetorend said...

In support of the last comment from dagoods, the Christians in my church do in fact do around stressing out and worrying about the possibility of sinning all day long. They believe that is important because the more you realize how much you sin, the more amazing the gospel becomes. Sure, maybe it leads to a nervous breakdown here and there, but maybe that's the point... And these are not stereotypical fundamentalists, they look just like anyone else, but that is their doctrine.

Lorena said...

A standing ovation for DawoodS! Way to go buddy. Couldn't agree more.

OneSmallStep said...

Atimetorend,

**"the people were amazed," as opposed to something like, "the people wailed in agony and asked how they could be saved."**

You might've read that here, because I've made that point a few times when discussing the Sermon on the Mount -- if it was meant to show everyone how hopeless they were, why were the people amazed? Why not horrified by how much they fell short?

OneSmallStep said...

DagoodS,

**Yes, they most certainly did consider some sins worse than others. The Bible does as well (otherwise ALL sins would be Unforgivable and worthy of death, since one such sin qualifies in each category.)**

This approach seems to be something that they might pick and choose from. If I were to point out that I'm much better than Hitler, wouldn't the response quickly be that I'm still repulsive in the eyes of God and still deserve Hell? It seems that if we are to judge sins with unequal weight, then the punishment would also be unequal weight -- and yet the default punishment is Hell. Yet if all sin is treated differently, shouldn't the eternal punishment vary as well?

**It is the untold statement, but every single Christian I chummed with (including me) thought we were “better” morally than others because we didn’t commit the big sins—murder, rape, pillaging villages.**

What's funny about this is I have a fundamentalist Baptist friend who worries about her Catholic relatives, as they feel they're okay because they haven't murdered anyone. Yet your fundamentalist acquaintances are doing the same thing -- although I'm sure they'd also say that they have Jesus as a personal Savior.

OneSmallStep said...

Yael,

**And what about the claim that Jesus was tempted just like everyone else, yet if he never had any thoughts about women and sex flit through his head, how is he tempted like the average male? **

This right here is why the idea of Jesus as God and also understanding the temptations of humanity has never made sense to me. One type of temptation -- the hardest type -- is where someone really wants to do something wrong. It's the internal source of temptation. Yet, if that very internal source -- like looking at someone with lust -- is a sin, then if Jesus is perfect, he couldn't have looked at anyone with lust. If Jesus can't be tempted like that, then how anyone relate to him? Like your example with the guy praying, and Jesus saying, "Never had any of those myself, yet totally understand your struggle." It's not a struggle Jesus ever had.

Which is also why saying that he fulfilled the law carries no weight with me -- Jesus couldn't have done otherwise.

OneSmallStep said...

Grace,

DagoodS has already pointed out the problem with using the phrase 'average Christian,' so I won't go there.

But I was involved in a conversation on another blog where two Christians used the Sermon on the Mount to show how we had to be perfect, and that included thoughts. The whole idea of looking at someone with lust, or hating my brother -- I was supposed to feel guilty. I think it was on Lorena's blog where someone linked to Ray Comfort who said that hating your brother is the same as killing him.

That conversation is what sparked this. If sinful thoughts are treated the same as actions, why doesn't that work in reverse? Why can't my compassionate thoughts carry the same weight as actions? Yet they don't, as seen in the letter of James. So why the discrepancy? I highly doubt that, if standing before God, if I said that I had ever intention of feeding poor people and yet never acted upon it, I'd be congratulated for being a great person. Yet if I went around having serious problems with poor people and yet did feed them, I'd be accused of being a horrible person.

Grace said...

I think everyone is right when they share that church people can have differing views about some of this stuff. And, we're certainly, to some extent anyway, bound to bring our own experience to the interpretation of Scripture.

I can't speak for all these folks, guys, and am only able to share my own faith. I personally am very opposed to any concept of "works righteousness."

It doesn't seem to me to be too healthy for people to go around all day stressing out over sin, or worrying about what sin is the worse, let alone judging others.

I do think our thoughts eventually can lead to outward actions, though. Uncontrolled anger, and bitterness may lead to murder, or some act of violence. Unbridled lust may lead to adultery. I think this is what Scripture is saying.

Friends, with all due respect to Ray Comfort, a good dose of common sense, and overall perspective, in the interpretation of the Bible goes along way, don't you think??

On the positive side, there's a good chance that compassionate thoughts will eventually lead to good works, too. Faith produces works.

But, from my perspective, the Christian faith is more about resting in God, and allowing His life to flow through us so to speak. It's not about constant striving, and worrying about if I measure up, or if I"m doing enough.

Realize that I can't completely, and empirically prove this to anyone, and we could probably argue to those "proverbial cows come home." But, I just wanted to share that there really is a different perspective out there. :)

We're not all crazed. (laughing)

Blessings!

OneSmallStep said...

Grace,

Two things:

**Friends, with all due respect to Ray Comfort, a good dose of common sense, and overall perspective, in the interpretation of the Bible goes along way, don't you think??**

One -- one of your original questions was asking us if we thought the average Christian went around worried about committing sins, and so forth. Quite a few people have pointed out here that self-professing Christians do worry about this, and do rank sinful thoughts on the same level as sinful actions. Ray Comfort may be very out there in Christian theology by our standards, but he represents how quite a few self-professing Christians think.

Not only that, but Greg Boyd wrote a book called 'Letter to the Skeptics' where he endorsed the same viewpoint -- the Sermon on the Mount is meant to show how sinful one is, and that the thoughts are pretty much equal to the actions. And he is several steps away from Ray Comfort. And I'm sure he'd say he's using the same tools you are, common sense and perspective.

Two -- common sense and overall perspective. Common sense in terms of what? You earlier made a reference to legalism, and here said you are opposed to works righteousness. But what does that even mean? As DagoodS asked, what are you talking about in terms of both concepts? Romans? Greeks? Hellenized Jews? Or how Judaism is broken down? To you, based on your reading of the Gospels, it might seem like common sense that Jesus came to replace legalism, aka, the Jewish religion.

And overall perspective -- in one sense? The perspective that you happen to reach, and so feel that God acts the same? (To be fair, I am much closer to your perspective, in that it's much easier for harmful actions to arise from harmful thoughts, and it makes absolutely no sense to me to be told that we are held accountable for things we have no control over, like thoughts. And that God insists on punishing those who could never be perfect in the first place. And what I will undoubtedly be told by many Christians is that I'm raising my own moral standard/fallen human intelligence over what God has "clearly" outlined in the Bible.)

societyvs said...

Good points all around OSS - I actually learn a lot from the stuff you write about - the main reason I have been reading for like 2 years or so...this topic is no different - again I am picking up things.

The point about the thoughts (good and bad) is truly key in what that passage in Matt 5 means. I have also contended for a good while that thinking is not an actual sin - but provides the basis/building ground for the actual sin. The point being - if you can think it - you can very possibly do it - and in the case of murder or adultery - you actually have to plan and think that through for some extended amount of time (a fleeting thought does nothing) prior to action (build the courage a bit).

Dagoods made a very good point about the hyperbole used - which it may very well be - to strike at the heart of the matter - which would be 'think twice!'.

I also like Dagoods idea about morality coming from knowing immorality - I think this is true (or at least seems it). True morality and immorality come from our knowledge of something + our way of using it (choice). We can do good with what we have learned ot use ot for alternative, not so good, purposes. But knowledge contains choice/perspective/interpretation.

But is thinking something a sin - or a good deed? No. But it's where we start when we want to introspectively deal with issues of hurt, pain, or happiness and how that is going to look in our lives.

I also tend to think Jesus did go through these struggles we all do - why? Because I think he was actually human - that seems to make more sense than some theology of a God-Man.

OneSmallStep said...

Society,

**But is thinking something a sin - or a good deed? No.**

I also think this for another reason, and it kind of ties into something I saw on your blog, as well as other places. The idea that there is no sliding scale in the eyes of God, and to judge a lie as a lesser sin than murder is to judge something through the eyes of man, not God.

But let us say we actually lived in a society that operated that way -- the tiniest infraction received the maximum penalty. That would be a horribly oppressive society where people would live in constant fear. There'd be no joy, no passion, no anything because people would be too busy trying to be perfect. We'd recognize that such a society would be ... well, an evil place to be. No one would want to live in that society, or be in a relationship with someone who thought that society was wonderful.

Yet God is portrayed in that same way? As though a lie is the same as murder? Is that really a God that anyone wants to spend time with? A God who doesn't make allowances for the natural imperfection of people?

Lorena said...

Is that really a God that anyone wants to spend time with? A God who doesn't make allowances for the natural imperfection of people?

I think this is one of the most hurtful aspects of the Christian faith. We learn that to be liked, we must be perfect. That's God's way, after all.

However, real life is totally different. Ever noticed that the widely liked folks are the laid-back ones with not-a-care in the world?

They're always late. Earn little money. Never finish anything. But, hey, everybody likes them, and they even get promotions at work for being ever so agreeable.

Anonymous said...

If thoughts are equivalent to actions (at least negative thoughts), then oh, boy, we are all in trouble. It is sort of like the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you are awake . . . I remember as a kid lying in bed at night and being scared of my thoughts. I didn't know too much about sex at the time, but I knew that even thinking about the area between your legs was considered bad, let alone touching it for any other reason than hygiene. I did not know why God made that area so feel-good when you weren't supposed to touch it, but I figured it had to be a test like in the Garden of Eden, our very own Tree of Temptation. And I was just a little kid at the time, I hadn't been exposed to any adult theories on the connection between the sin in Eden and sex. So I used to feel very very guilty and although we were supposed to tell all our sins to the priest I never did tell him about my "sexual fantasies". Because I realize now they were sexual fantasties, only undefined. And this may come as a shock to those who think little kids don't think about sex, they may not do so in an explicit manner (unless abused), but they know that their genitals feel special good even though they don't know why.

But the Christian response to all this, and it's funny because I had the same discussion yesterday at the laundromat with an earnest young man who was trying to convert me, is to go read Romans. We have all sinned, every last one of us, and therefore we are under judgement. God either can not or will not forgive us unless we submit ourselves to the yoke of Christ, as defined NOT by the individual believer but by whatever church a particular witnesser belongs to (in this case, Christian Reformed). All others are false churches. If you insist on thought freedom, yes you have free will, but you are playing a dangerous game. And so it goes. You cannot have freedom and have Christ. Why is freedom so bad? He could not say.

By the way, I loved the comments about Jesus and sex. As I get older and learn more about human sexuality in general (what people actually do as opposed to what Christianity says they should do), I find it very strange that Jesus is not depicted as struggling with his sexuality. For a man, that is very, very unusual. When I read "The Confessions of Saint Augustine" years ago, I found that here was a man who was flesh and blood indeed. Augustine knew well what lust was and spoke frankly about it (even though I don't understand why he didn't just get married then). I shocked a Christian friend because I said all this talk of a perfect Jesus turned me off. I have Asperger's Syndrome and there is some speculation among Asperger's people that Jesus might have had Asperger's himself because he shows some Aspy traits. Just speculation mind you, but she was shocked. No, no, no, no! That can't be! He has to be perfect. Asperger's would make him, well . . . I said I have been shut out all my life because of Asperger's, and when I hear that kind of talk, I think, yes, a perfect God for perfect people. Fine. If I am going to deal with a God who is incarnate human, then I don't want a perfect human, I want one who is broken and flawed like me.

OneSmallStep said...

Lorena,

**We learn that to be liked, we must be perfect. That's God's way, after all.**

And I don't see any way around this -- because the argument of God knew we couldn't be perfect and thus sent Jesus doesn't fly for precisely as you described -- God must have perfection, for He hates sin. God couldn't accept you until someone perfect stood in your place.

**Ever noticed that the widely liked folks are the laid-back ones with not-a-care in the world?**

Yes. You can relax around them.

OneSmallStep said...

Anon,

**You cannot have freedom and have Christ. Why is freedom so bad? He could not say.**

And yet, isn't knowing the truth supposed to provide freedom?

**then I don't want a perfect human, I want one who is broken and flawed like me.**

Exactly. How can perfection ever hope to understand imperfection?

Yael said...

OSS,
Your comment about God, sin and perfection brings to mind the question I asked someone not long ago. If God is too perfect to be around even the slightest hint of imperfection, how is it that Jesus, who Christianity teaches is divine, can be around sin and even goes out of his way to be around sin? If God can't be around sin then shouldn't it be that God can't be around sin? And if God can be around sin then doesn't it make sense that God can be around sin?

I found the idea of having to relate to some male in order to approach God to be off-putting. What man ever understood anything about women? It is tough enough trying to find God behind all the male images presented in Tanakh. I didn't need to place some flesh and blood guy front and center; that just made it all even worse.

This is something I've never understood. The Christian depiction of God is that no matter what we do, God is going to be pissed at us and torment us forever, but if we just let Jesus placate God for us, then we can happily sing praises to God for all eternity. Sing praises? Are you kidding? To some psycho-god? Why is this supposed to be something I would desire to do?