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5/12/2008                                                                                       View Comments

All Christians are moral relativists

By Geoff

I tend to avoid writing about or discussing the topic of religion. In general, my unconventional views on the subject get me into a heated discussion with a zealous, but well meaning believer concerned with my eternal destiny or a mentally draining screaming match with a pretentious asshat who believes I worship Darwin and who seems convinced that atheism is just another religion (which is like saying that not playing sports is a sport). Despite this, I usually try to remain civil. After all, we are all entitled to believe whatever we want, right?

HOWEVER!

There are a few annoying arguments Christians use that quite frankly make about as much sense as a gay republican. Were I to go into all of them, I would be typing here for hours and hours. So, I will focus on one for now: Moral Relativity

Moral relativity essentially states that analysis into whether an action is right or wrong should come from several facets of study, culture, context, usefulness, etc. This ideas lies in stark contrast to the beliefs of some religionists who claim that moral values are absolute and handed down from a deity to humanity in some form of sacred text.

SOME Christians (I say some because not all Christians are stone cold fucking retarded; many are actually quite intelligent) believe that any and all moral truths are expressed in the Bible, that the Bible expresses absolute morality, and that to remove that from a person’s life is to lose ones reason for doing good. Well, I say that that is total and utter bullshit. Admittedly I do not know where mans’ sense of morality came from. This ignorance on my part, however, doesn't suddenly give me the urge to go out and kill people. It doesn't make me want to rape or steal, or eat children.

Doesn't supposedly knowing the ultimate nature of morality (absolute, handed down from a deity) take away from the idea of morality a little? Life is complicated. When you try to reduce all of life to an ugly montage of black/white, right/wrong, heaven/hell, you inevitably ruin the nuanced beauty of everyday life. With an absolutist mindset, the subtle voice of compassion in your head that tells you to stand up and question the ugly practices and extremes of religion becomes the voice of Satan trying to tempt you. The pangs of sadness you feel whenever a gay person is beat up for their sexuality becomes possible warning signs of your own homosexuality, a tremendous cause for concern.

But WORST of all…

The bleating voice of the minister from the pulpit becomes gospel truth; the televangelist starts to be a messenger from god himself. Wars begin to be god-ordained!

Here is a simple example of why I reject the argument for moral absolutism

1. Open your Bible to a verse that condemns homosexuality.

Find it? Good.

NOW, open your bible to a verse that condemns pedophilia. Find it?

Nope.

That’s because there is no verse in the Bible that directly condemns pedophilia. Christians are all moral relativists with regards to pedophilia, because there is no absolute prohibition in the Bible against it. All that’s left for anyone is to be a moral relativist on this topic. And, somehow, even without a mention of it in the Bible, nearly everyone agrees that the practice is morally reprehensible.

2. Open your Bible to a verse that says that women should remain silent in church (I believe its in one of the Timothy’s, and I don't want to go grab my Bible)

NOW open your Bible to a verse that condemns domestic violence. Not some indirect verses that could be applied to nearly anything, as in "X was mean to X women and God expressed disdain at this action.” NO, I mean quote a verse that says point blank that "IT IS WRONG TO PHYSICALLY HARM YOUR WIFE."

There really is none, so everyone is a moral relativist in regards to this as well. Either that, or you have to decide that domestic violence isn't important to God.

3. Open your Bible to a verse that condemns adultery (this should be easy).

NOW! Open your Bible to a verse that condemns animal abuse.

There is none!

In fact god seems more than willing to have hundreds of thousands of animals killed just to appease his ego. If you believe in animal rights, you are a moral relativist in regards to this as well.

I could go into this for pages and pages, with many more examples then I have given, but I think my point is abundantly clear.

Please note that my disdain only applies to that rare breed of Christian that somehow sees the Bible as explaining every detail of reality to a "T" – fundies. I realize that this is becoming increasingly less common among Christians (hey, its a good start). The sooner we get off our moral high horses and take a critical look at the world around us, the sooner we can start learning to cooperate with one another on this big, beautiful planet earth

FIN!

--Geoff

23 comments:

xrayman said...

Great subject Geoff. I used to correspond with a Bible literalist who believed in absolute morality provided by the Bible. He claimed he would never lie even to save someone's feelings. I thought he was so full of shit. As if his mother bought him a gift or made him a gift that she put all of her heart into, he would say, "Mom I hate this gift." Bull fucking shit.

I asked this guy if he would lie to save the life of one of his children and he answered with, "I don't know." I think he was lying right there.

Yea Geoff morality is relative to the situation and to say our morals come from a book that doesn't condemn child molestation is complete and utter hogwash. We get our morals from the society in which we live.

shedevil said...

Geoff, I have a deep appreciation for what you have written. I lost patience years ago for this lopsided morality that christians cherish.

My big problem is that christians love going to war, and they love capital punishment. Then they turn right around and wring their hands over abortion and stem cell research, and whimper that life is sacred.

And about animal abuse: I would cheerfully support public flogging for anyone who harms an animal.

freedy said...

What about the immoral act of terrifying and brainwashing children?Cramming absolutes down their throats from a mythical book of crazy and violent stories.

I'd say that's moral relativism.

shedevil said...

Thank you. Thomas Paine said something about the bible being a book that frightens children. I can't come up with the exact quote, but Tom said he couldn't believe in such a book.

dunany77 said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one. Great post!

As a former fundi myself, I was all over this topic with my moral absolutist view of the world. I believed that the bible contained the "absolute truth" and that without this moral guideline people have no idea what is good and what is bad. "If gay people can get married, what's to stop people from marrying their dogs?" and "You wouldn't know if murder was bad if the bible didn't tell you it was" were my favorite arguments.

I have since jumped off my high horse, shot it dead and given it a few kicks just to make sure. Looking at your questions concerning pedophilia and animal abuse, I would have argued that the Law and jesus' commandments to treat people as you would want them to treat you covered these areas, and that specific commandments not to do them were not necessary. Of course looking back, I would have been stumped as to why god chose to go out of his way to condemn adultery etc, but I would have pulled something out of my ass to find a good reason.

Fundamentalism forces a person to compartmentalize their reason and logic in order to fit reality into the stiff mold of biblical xianity. It is so comforting and ego boosting to have all the answers tied up in a neat little book. Being able to smugly tell the world they have no moral ground to stand on is a huge pride thing.

Of course, that is the hypocrisy inherent in the fundi world view. Pride being the ultimate sin!

billybee said...

Geoff,
Thanks for your post. It has inspired me to action.

In my little town, there is a big controversy going on. The local library has a couple of books dealing with homosexuality that are causing a big stink.

I've wanted to submit a letter to the editor of my local paper, but, the same old arguments were not something that I wanted to use.

Your angle on what the bible does NOT say is a great strategy. Hopefully I can use it to bring a different point of view to the controversy...thanks again!

Steven Bently said...

The Bible is used to justify every wrong done to every human being and animal that ever lived. You can rape, molest, murder, and steal and Jesus is standing by with open arms waiting for your salvation.

The Bible is the biggest liar and hoax ever devised by people, invented to forgive them for their wrongs that they knew it was wrong to begin with.

Rich said...

A great explanation of why depending on a book for morality is really not a good idea. I wrote a satire on this topic:

The Christian Morality Help Center Project

You can read it on Helium.
http://www.helium.com/items/932156-christian-morality-center-projectchristians

Trancelation said...

Geoff:

Thank you for writing on this topic. You are right; Christians cannot be morally absolute if they require relativism to obtain that absolutism. Absolutism and relativism are total opposites of each other. Ultimately, every human being on this planet that ascribes to a set of rules is practicing moral relativism. Including and ESPECIALLY Christians. ALL of them.

The best moral topic to use against them is sexual abuse against children. As you pointed out, there are no passages condemning pedophilia. Most Christians I have argued with bring uo the passage where Jesus says he would rather die than make "these" little ones sin. But nowhere does it says that making the beast with two backs wth a "little one" is a sin. It certainly doesn't tell you to NOT marry children and then have sex with them. The reality is, in those days, that was a very common practice. In our modern times, this activity is frowned upon (with good reason), but this is just another example of the moral relativism of Christians. If they're going to push their worldview on us, then their right to have sex with children should be a part of that package. Can you even imagine the backlash?

Christians, ALL of them, are psychologically retarded. If this is the kind of deluding they have to put themselves through, and do it with a smile, they have to be.

twincats said...

Also, abortion isn't forbidden anywhere in the babble, either. This is one of the fundies' favorites.

See here:

http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-bibleforbids.htm

walkingawayfromreligion said...

Great topic. As a former Christian I also love the way they would say "all sin is equal in God's eyes" yet determine for themselves which were really BAD and which sins were not that big of a deal. Too many I knew sex before marriage, excuse me, FORNICATION, was the BIGGEST! So go ahead and kill somebody but whatever you do don't have sex without being married.

Oh, that reminds me, to twincats above me, abortion is considered murder by Christians so its covered in the Bible.

dedhed said...

Of course Pedophilia isn't in this Bible. Any priest could tell you that. Besides, most Christians teach that Mary was only 13 or 14 years old when God knocked her up and that Joseph was in his early forties. That would be considered really nasty today, but not in the time of Christ, kid fuckers were rampant.

xrayman said...

She Devil Said,

"My big problem is that Christians love going to war, and they love capital punishment. Then they turn right around and wring their hands over abortion and stem cell research, and whimper that life is sacred."

Isn't that so fucking ironic? Why is it that you don't hear one main stream Christian big wig condemn war? I know the JW's do but that is about it.

Astreja said...

Here's one more aspect of moral relativism: Even if scriptural laws come from a god, they come from that god's opinion. In other words, they're every bit as subjective as man-made laws.

billybee said...

xrayman sez;
"...Why is it that you don't hear one main stream Christian big wig condemn war?...."

billybee sez;
Good question, Bill. I'd think that Jesus' example would mean that Christians should be the biggest pack o' pacificits of all time...yet nearly the opposite is typically demonstrated.

xrayman said...

Yes Willie B. What I really want to know is Jesus this eye for and eye guy or is he a turn the other cheek guy? He certainly can't be both.

Yes it would seem that Christians would be total pacifists but they can be really aggressive assholes.

Raul said...

The funny think about "biblical morality"... Ask a christian if it is moral to kill children. I mean,their "god" has both ordered to do so on some occasions and killed some himself.

riley_jensen said...

I myself argue that xtians are emotional relativists. Their history has proven that. Mankinds history has proven that.

Xtians have had moral relativity years. The OT versus the NT shows the changing of times and the how arcaic the morals are. Most don't make sense. Also, xtianity has was against democracy, woman's rights, segregation, and etc.
Preachers were preaching against simple things like rock and roll and how one's dress just 20 years ago. Now you got those hot and bothered xtian bitches running up in the church swinging the cleavage around. Overall, xtianity pretends to be step ahead in morality, when in reality, they are only a step behind in progress of humanity.

VERY relative, I must say. They will accept gay marriage. Its only a matter of time. Xtians use to say the blacks would never get the same rights.

riley_jensen said...

I meant to say that xtians were against desegregation.

Free Thinker said...

I'v read that most morals are learned at home. in a normal family that should get you into life pretty good....but throw in the buy-bull shit and your head will get all fucked up.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Wow, Geoff, do I know you? I have been promoting this idea for years. Most of the time I get slammed for talking about this. Many atheists tend to get a bit edgy with this topic.

Kudos to you for stating this idea of Christian moral relativism. Atheists should take comfort in the concept of naturalistic morality, and not get caught in the trap of "this or that morality." We know very well that we are capable of making choices without religion, and we've suspected all along that Christianity is not about making choices or judgements--it's about obeying a command. That's simply not morality at all, any more than making a choice with a hun pointed at you.

We make choices based on our values. Evaluating those values as rational or irrational, and evaluating the cause and effect of our choices on ourselves and our values--THAT'S morality. It has nothing to do with the whims of a dictator.

Now if I could get atheists--who already know we don't need a god to make moral choices--to understand we don't need a government to make moral choices--I would be getting somewhere.

Trancelation said...

Hellbound Alleee:

Really? Atheists are skittinsh on the topic of morality/"Christian" morality? Most of the atheists I know are ready, willing and able to tear into the terminal psychosis that Christians call "morality." But oh, well; you and I can know different atheists :)

As for governmental morality: why don't you just let the President do his job?

j/k

A fine example of how we don't need government "morality" is the current oil situation. Take a look at all the solutions for the oil situation we have right now and you'll see that things are a lot better than you might think, and then ask if a President that refuses to raise fuel economy standards in vehicles, refuses to end a pointless war that consumes countless gallons of oil a day, and gladly takes payments from oil lobbysist to keep producing standard oil from THEIR oil wells, really cares about us or about morality. Hint: he doesn't.

No worries about, Alleee. I've been calling bullshit on the government for a LOONG time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ride my bike to the post office :)

Ricky said...

Hey Geoff. You're right. If any Christian claims that atheists don't have morals, and there are no morals besides what's in the Bible, I can prove that person wrong very easily.

See, I'm a vegetarian, and one for moral reasons. Christianity happily condones and promotes the killing of animals, as you say. Even the phrase "lamb of God" comes from the sacrificial lamb, in other words, a random animal killed because God loves the smell of burning flesh.

Even if that Christian thinks that vegetarianism is crazy (when it comes to animals, you're crazy if you don't want to kill them. Compassion is good, but boy oh boy, don't have too much, for God's sake!), he must admit that I have a moral standard that's not found in the Bible. In other words, I think about the welfare of others without hearing about it at all from God.

It's also fun to have Christians admit that if not for the threat of Hell, they would rape and kill. Of course, few would outright admit that, even if that's exactly what they indirectly admit everytime they say that the Bible gives people morals.