Why Christians Must Steal From Secular Morality
by Chris Smith
Christians must steal their moral rules from secular morality. They have no choice, as the Bible does not offer a moral system, it only offers a series of contradictory commands and a supposed threat of punishment in the “afterlife” for not following them – a punishment that is given equally to all violators – whatever the sin.
The Bible does nothing and can do nothing towards inculcating moral behavior on its own. Christians must steal from secular moral systems, and then merely graft their ‘God threats’ on top of this moral system. This is necessary. And the reason for this is simple: there is no morality in the Bible and there can be no morality in the Bible, because the Bible holds that 1) ALL ‘sins’ are equivalent (destroying any moral sense) AND 2) all moral behavior is immaterial, because works cannot save a person, AND finally all people are damned from birth.
In reality, Christians realize that some actions are more moral than others. They realize that moral actions exist in a hierarchy, and that rape is far worse than stealing a pencil. Yet the Bible holds that all ‘sins’ are equal, as all deserve the same punishment.
Christians also realize that humans can be moral agents… they expect moral behavior from others, and they view their own children as something to value. Yet the Bible holds that man is worthless, that he cannot be a moral agent, and that his sole salvation comes from grace. However, since Christians realize, implicitly, that all of these these points are obviously, prima facie false, they must steal from secular systems, that hold that 1) man obviously has a value 2) all ‘sins’ are obviously not equivalent and 3) a person cannot be held to be doing anything ‘immoral’ without intent.
So, whenever you apply some concept of punishment found in the Bible to a moral situation, you are actually just grafting something from the Bible onto a secular moral system.
Find me a theist who finds any of these actions moral:
In Genesis 3:16 God punishes all women, innocent or not, with painful childbirth and subjugation to men.
In Genesis 7:4 God has a bad day at the office, thus decides to drown innocent babies, and animals both wild and domestic.
In Exodus 4:11 God boasts about making people handicapped.
In Exodus 4:23 God resorts to hostage taking and terrorism in order to get his own way. He does this via threatening a baby. Soon, he is slaughtering little babies all acrossEgypt.
In Exodus 9:19-20 God slaughters Egyptian cattle. Sometimes, cow tipping just isn’t enough.
In Exodus 9:29-30 God kills off innocent babies, and whatever cows he missed earlier.
In Exodus 20:17 God tells us not to free another’s slaves. Abolitionists beware!!
In Exodus 32:27-28 God tells the sons to slaughter their neighbors: 3,000 men are slain.
In Leviticus 19:20-22 God demands that raping a slave woman is punishable by scourging the victim. The rapist is to be forgiven.
In Leviticus 25:44-46 God tells his followers to make slaves of their neighbors.
In Leviticus 27:3-7 God helpfully provides a pricing guide. According to this guide, as a male between the ages of 18 and 60 years (the most expensive category), I am worth approximately US$25. How much are you worth to God?
In Numbers 14:18 God’s idea of justice is explained: little children are to be punished for their great-great grandparents transgressions.
In Numbers 31:1-54 God tells his followers to commit genocide, “sparing” only the virgin girls, who are to be raped. Even God gets some “un-spared” virgins.
In Numbers 33:4 God kills of another batch of Egyptian babies. Abortion is a sin because…?
In Deuteronomy 2:33-36 God demands genocide again. No mention of virgin girls this time, unless these children are raped to death…
In Deuteronomy 7:2 God demands more genocide from his followers.
In Deuteronomy 13:12-16 God demands new and improved genocide, now including cattle. Oh, wait, we’ve had that before. Damn cows.
In Deuteronomy 32:21-26 God glories in being a psychotic terrorist. Don’t miss the atrocities of Deuteronomy 28, either!
In Joshua 6:18-19 the Omnipotent Creator is short of cash, again.
In Joshua 8:22-26 God demands more genocide, plus some more slavery as detailed in Joshua 9:21-27, but this time, in Joshua 10:10-11, we get slaughter and a chase scene!! Go, God!!
In Joshua 10:28-32 God demands still more genocide.
In Joshua 11:6-17 God still demands more genocide. There are more exceptions to “Thou shalt not kill” than there are to a rich man’s tax code.
In Judges 1:2-7. God’s takes a break from genocide, has his followers kill “only” 10,000 people, but at least they get to torture and mutilate somebody by cutting off both thumbs and big toes!
In Judges 1:12-13 Caleb offers his daughter as prize to anyone who conquers the City ofDebir. The girl’s cousin wins the contest, thus the prize.
In Judges 1:17-19 God gets back to good, ol’ regular genocide. Killing innocent people is serious work!!
In Judges 2:14 God has a temper-tantrum and sellsIsraelinto slavery.
In Judges 3:28-29 & 4:15-16 God reverts to, you guessed it, genocide.
In Judges 5:30 God hands out a damsel or two to each of his rapist soldiers. Booty Call!!
In Judges 10:17 God gets angry atIsrael, again, and sells them into slavery, again.
In Judges 12:6 God slays 42,000 innocent people because someone with a speech impediment mispronounces the word “shibboleth”. I’ll bet you thought the word “lisp” was cruel jest.
In Judges 15:4-8 a “righteous” Samson captures 300 foxes, ties their tails together, and sets them on fire. Abusing animals is almost as righteous as killing babies, apparently.
In Judges 19:22-30, after taking in a traveling Levite, the host offers his virgin daughter and his guest’s concubine to a mob of perverts (who want to have sex with his guest). The mob refuses the daughter, but accepts the concubine and they “abuse her all night.” The next morning she crawls back to the doorstep and dies. The Levite mounts her dead body on an ass and takes her home. Then he chops her body up into twelve pieces and sends them to each of the twelve tribes ofIsrael.
In Judges 21:7-23 in order to find wives for the Benjamites, who were unwilling to use their own daughters, the other tribes attacked and killed all occupants of a city except for the young virgins. These virgins were then given to the Benjamites as “wives”.
In 1 Samuel 2:10 if God doesn’t like you he will send a thunderstorm to break your body into little pieces. In 1 Samuel 2:31-34, if God really doesn’t like you, he will cut off your arm, consume your eyes, grieve your heart, and slay your sons & grandfathers. In 1 Samuel 5:6, 9, and 12 we learn that if God really, really doesn’t like you, he will give you hemorrhoids in your “secret parts”.
In 1 Samuel 5:11 God wipes out another city.
In 1 Samuel 15:2-3 God demands more genocide, this time as punishment for some no doubt petty transgression committed hundreds of years previously by the forefathers of these innocent people.
In 1 Samuel 15:7-34 God goads Saul into torturing & slaying his prisoner, a King.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus strongly approves of the law & the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament.
In Matthew 8:21 Jesus shows no compassion for the bereaved, saying to a man who had just lost his father: “Let the dead bury the dead.”
In Matthew 8:32 Jesus abuses animals by sending some devils into a herd of pigs, causing the pigs to run off a cliff & drown in the sea below. The acorn does not fall far from the tree. Was there a local shortage of Egyptian cows? Moo!
In Matthew 10:15 Jesus becomes a terrorist, and threatens genocide against cities.
In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tries to scare people by telling them that his dad can beat up their dad.
In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus threatens more cities.
In Matthew 12:47-49 “Mister Family Values” himself (Jesus) is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers.
In Matthew 13:41-42 Jesus threatens to send his angels against any who offend him, and send them straight to hell. Love, peace, tolerance, and forgiveness are beneath him, apparently.
In Matthew 15:4-7 Jesus commits hypocrisy by demanding all others to honor their parents. “Sorry about being rude back in Matthew 12, Mom.”
In Matthew 18:8-9 Jesus advocates self-mutilation, but for others, not him. He’s perfect, thank you.
In Matthew 18:25 Jesus advocates slavery.
In Matthew 25:29 Jesus proposes a system of economy where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
In Mark 5:12-13 Jesus spooks 2,000 pigs, causing them to jump of a cliff and drown in the sea. Is this evidence of more animal abuse, or is the story from Matthew 8:32 getting better with each telling?
In Mark 6:11 Jesus resorts to threatening cities again. Die, innocent babies, Die!!
In Mark 7:9-13 Jesus criticizes people for not killing their children, as they should have, according to Old Testament law. The same law Jesus broke when he was disrespectful to his Mother in Matthew 12:47-49.
In Mark 10:29-30 Jesus will reward men who abandon their wives and children.
In Mark 11:13-14 Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing fruit, even though it was out of season. Apparently, “Mister Perfect” wasn’t much of an agronomist, or ethicist.
In Luke 8:20-21 Jesus is disrespectful to his mother and rude to his brothers, again. Or still?
In Luke 8:27-37 Jesus heals a naked man who was possessed by many devils by sending the devils into a herd of pigs, causing them to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. This messy, cruel, and expensive (for the owners of the pigs) treatment did not favorably impress the local residents, and Jesus was asked to leave. This story does get better with each telling!!
In Luke 10:10-15 Jesus terrorizes entire cities, claiming they will be violently destroyed and the inhabitants “thrust down to hell” for not “receiving” his disciples. No doubt these people preferred their pigs.
In Luke 12:46-47 Jesus likens God to a sadistic, diabolical slave-owner, who will beat you “with many stripes”.
In Luke 16:17 Jesus declares that all the vicious, irrational laws of the Old Testament are binding forever.
In John 2:4 Jesus is, again, rude to his mother. She seems so nice, too.
In John 5:14 Jesus announces that God handicaps people as just punishment for their sins.
In John 7:8-10 Jesus lies to his family about attending a feast.
In Acts 5:1-10 Peter, with God’s help, kills a man who sold his possessions, but did not fork over all of the earnings. Why is the Omnipotent Creator always short of cash?
In Acts 13:48 we learn that only pre-ordained people would be allowed in heaven. So much for freewill…
In case you care to know: The Bible is about obedience, not morality. The Bible holds that a person must 1) concede that humanity is worthless, 2) believe that an intelligent, loving God is the most cruel force imaginable, and 3) hold that the best thing a person can do is grovel in obedience before this cruel tyrant, or face hellfire. This is not the inculcation of morality, this is coercion. One is forced to obey, or be destroyed.
This is not a moral system. It undermines morality itself. It is merely obedience.
If we look at Kohlberg’s stages of moral reasoning, we see that a system built upon punishments and rewards is pre conventional morality, and not a mature moral system at all:
Stages 1 and 2 in the preconventional level involve an “egocentric point of view” and a “concrete individualistic perspective” in which the person makes choices based on the fear of punishment and the desire for rewards.
Stage 1 Punishment/Obedience – Consequentialism. This stage is characterized by avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power as values in themselves. Simple Hedonism. Morality is seen as based on self interest; the goodness or badness of action is determined by their physical consequences, regardless of any human meaning attached to these consequences.
Stage 2 – Instrumental Relativist Orientation – defined by a focus on instrumental satisfaction of one’s own needs, as the determiner of “right”. Reciprocity may be present, but it is of the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind.
Conventional Stage (Late childhood, early adolescence)
In Stages 3 and 4 of the conventional level, persons make choices from a “member-of-society” perspective, considering the good of others, the maintenance of positive relations, and the rules of society. This level generally involves a move towards gaining approval or avoiding disapproval as the basis of morality; law and social rules are seen as valuable in their own right.
Stage 3 – Interpersonal Concordance (Good boy/girl orientation) – this stage is driven by a desire to please or help others with hope of winning their approval.
Stage 4 – Law and Order orientation – Focuses on the maintenance of social order and the importance of authority and strict rules. This is not the blind, unquestioning belief in power of stage one, however.
Postconventional level (This may develop in late adolescence, more likely in our mid 20s and beyond. It may never develop for most of us.)
Persons in the final stages of the postconventional level, Stages 5 and 6, reason from a “prior-to-society” perspective in which abstract ideals take precedence over particular societal laws.
Stage 5 – Social Contract/Legalistic Orientation – This stage involves a recognition of the relative nature of personal values, and the importance of having procedures for reaching a consensus and changing unfair rules. The individual at this stage can separate the legal world from individual differences of opinion.
Stage 6 – Universal Ethical Principle Orientation – This stage involves defining what is “right” in one’s own conscience in a way that is consistent with one’s own abstract ethical principles that are based on inclusiveness and responsibility to others; there is a clear emphasis on universality, consistency, logic and rationality. The highest stage of moral development in Kohlberg’s original theory. Some state that stage 6 is only hypothetical. On the other hand, philosophers like Ken Wilber point to a 7th stage – the centaur – where universal concern for humanity is combined with a concern for all nature – identification is broadened to the universe itself, care is held for all nature in a manner such that one cares for the universe around him just as another cares for his own body.
In order for a man to be moral, to reach levels 3, 4, and beyond, he must disregard the claims of theism.
As the philosopher Spinoza stated: “A moral act is never an act done solely for an external reward, it’s done because the act, itself, is rewarding”
Christianity can only undermine matural morality….through it’s infantile use of external threats. True morality is internal.
Here’s a nice quote from Alan Dershowitz who backs this up:
There is a wonderful Hasidic story about a rabbi who was asked whether it is ever proper to act as if God did not exist. He responded, “Yes, when you are asked to give to charity, you should give as if there were no God to help the object of the charity.” I think the same is true of morality and character: in deciding what course of action is moral, you should act as if there were no God. You should also act as if there were no threat of earthly punishment or reward. You should be a person of good character because it is right to be such a person.