On Back Door Ways To Keep One’s Virginity (And To Defend One’s Faith)

In their NSFW song “Loophole” Garfunkel and Oates give a full and hilarious skewering of self-servingly inconsistent, illogical, and arbitrary Christians.

My favorite line in it is actually the relatively mundane “so whatever people tell me that the Bible tells me, I will do”. Because that’s as telling as all the rest of the attitudes parodied in the song.

I do feel bad for the kids whose consciences have been so badly misled, manipulated, and indoctrinated into such warped ideas about sexuality that they feel the need to resort to these desperate rationalizations and hypocrisies in order to make room for what their bodies and minds know on a deeper level is good for them. But as Garfunkel and Oates deftly demonstrate by the end of the song, the whole absurd mindset of these kids with respect to sex is just a synecdoche for the whole capricious, selfish, self-righteous, and ad hoc way that evangelicals think about everything to do with theology and ethics. Transparent excuses for transparent contradictions are simply what thinking itself often amounts to for them.

Now, not all evangelicals can handle quite such contradictions as the ones in this song. In my days as an abstinent Christian teenager I would have seen any naked genital contact with any body part or any mutual masturbation or even any mutual nude touching, etc. all as sex, regardless of whatever other abstract theological contradictions I may have engaged in (which really are formally no worse, you sexually “innocent” but intellectually guilty believers who may be reading along).

Other kids go down a different, more rational, road and start reconciling their realization (whether it is explicit or merely implicit) that the sex they’re having isn’t such a bad thing after all and start to actually question the faith that was misleading them on the issue, rather than just compartmentalize their lives contradictorily. With a prediction made by their faith falsified, they naturally start to become doubters of that faith, whether through some conscious intellectual process or without even realizing it.

I am finding in the last couple years that at least a few Christian apologists love to pounce on this as evidence that the resultant deconversions that come from people who started to drift away from their faith when they started having sex were not actually rationally motivated. Disguising their self-righteous bias into an intellectual haughtiness they like to accuse these deconverts of using intellectual arguments as a fig leaf for moral weakness and overpowering lust.

Derek Rishmaway writes:

Keller illustrated the point by talking about a tactic, one that he admittedly said was almost too cruel to use, that an old college pastor associate of his used when catching up with college students who were home from school. He’d ask them to grab coffee with him to catch up on life. When he’d come to the state of their spiritual lives, they’d often hem and haw, talking about the difficulties and doubts now that they’d taken a little philosophy, or maybe a science class or two, and how it all started to shake the foundations. At that point, he’d look at them and ask one question, “So who have you been sleeping with?” Shocked, their faces would inevitably fall and say something along the lines of, “How did you know?” or a real conversation would ensue. Keller pointed out that it’s a pretty easy bet that when you have a kid coming home with questions about evolution or philosophy, or some such issue, the prior issue is a troubled conscience. Honestly, as a Millennial and college director myself, I’ve seen it with a number of my friends and students—the Bible unsurprisingly starts to become a lot more “doubtful” for some of them once they’d had sex.

And it makes sense, right? When you’re engaged in behavior you’ve been raised to believe is wrong, but is still pretty fun, more than that, powerfully enslaving, you want to find reasons to disbelieve your former moral convictions. As Keller pointed out, Aldous Huxley famously confessed in his work Ends and Means that he didn’t want there to be a God and meaning because it interfered with his sexual freedom. While most of our contemporaries haven’t worked it out quite as philosophically as Huxley has, they’re spiritually in much the same place.

Illicit sex is an idol in our generation that cannot be ignored, but must be dethroned if the worship of the true God is going to fill the Temple of His Church.

See that? People only question creationism and theism because sex has enslaved them as an idol. This younger generation worships sex. So the unanimous opinion of professional biologists in favor of evolution must be all libido driven. That 83% of professional philosophers who are non-theists? We’re all sex maniacs. There’s a well-hidden fact that this crack evangelical thinking is threatening to expose: biology and philosophy conferences are simply orgies. And when we return from them, we simply cannot face God anymore so we make up theories like evolution and start saying absurd things, like that the fantasies and visions of bronze age nomads are not epistemically reliable sources of knowledge claims.

And the gall of this reported professor insultingly intruding into his students’ sex lives as a response to arguments. I would never in a million years think of disrespectfully responding to a theistic student’s arguments with an equivalent like “let me guess, you’ve never gotten laid, right?” This is a disgusting and disingenuous dodge for his lack of support for his faith so that he can feel both self-righteous and intellectually superior to college kids in one smarmy gesture. Meanwhile, he probably thinks there’s nothing fishy at all about the intensive emotional brainwashing that many of those kids received since they were in the crib. He probably does not think that there is anything wrong with cultish Christian camps that isolate kids from their family and secular friends and hand them over to older people who fawn over them, work them up into emotional frenzies, and then tell them that the only possible way to have a good life is through total subjugation to “Jesus”. That’s not enslaving at all! Those 18 years growing up in churches giving exclusively theological answers to properly philosophical and scientific questions–that wasn’t limiting the kids minds at all! Teaching kids to plug up their ears and say “la la la faith” every time they hear a rational argument they don’t know what to do with? That’s not irrational at all!

What’s irrational and enslaving is the way that human animals that started becoming sexually mature at 12 or 13 start to think, five to six years later, that it’s natural to just start having sex already and start wondering just why they shouldn’t actually be free to do so when they realize how fun it is, how healthy it can be, and how much it sometimes adds to their lives and their relationships. What slavery! What idol worship! What foul source of irrational notions like that humans evolved from apes, like ancient genocidal tribal peoples were not selected as the one true immutable omnipotent omnipresent immaterial eternal Creator’s special chosen people, like there never was a human being that was simultaneously a God, like there are not demons roaming around tempting or possessing people, etc., etc.

Having sex gives them the “warped idea” that sex (even outside of marriage!) is good and starts making them irrationally doubt clear truths like that some human beings a couple thousand years ago mysteriously channelled supernatural wisdom that everyone must believe and no one can ever question despite there being no proof for any of it.

The truth is that when young people start finding out that life is not like so many actively manipulating adults drilled into their heads it would be they start to question more broadly what those people told them. The truth is when they find that what is really good for them, personally, ethically, and socially, is something that those cultish adults told them to fear as an “enslaving” power, they have damn good reason to start questioning those adults.

And the truth is that college students simultaneously forming religious doubts and simultaneously starting to have sex are quite often total coincidences. College students either start (or accelerate) having sex simply because it is the first time they are living away from home, among their peers, free from parental pressure and supervision, and surrounded by sexual opportunity. And they start doubting their religious beliefs because their minds are maturing and they’re finally encountering university level education about the natural sciences, social sciences, history, and philosophy, all from people utterly indifferent to whether this is going to interfere with their oh so delicate religious beliefs. These are usually probably just coincidences with serendipitous advantages for helping people see through the lies of their religious indoctrinations from multiple angles at once.

But, why deal with the difficulties of answering people’s serious intellectual challenges when you can try to guilt them and call their wholly natural need for sexual intimacy a sinful form of idolatry? It’s Christianity 101. If your choice is between thinking or emotionally manipulating and distorting reality so that a person turns against themselves and their own good, always start to work on the emotions. It’s only “almost” cruel to do so.

Finally, this makes my blood boil the most because I did sacrifice my sexuality on the altar of Christian “purity” and wasted my college education largely on theology and desperately trying to twist philosophy into an apologetics that could account for the abundance of absurdities I was brainwashed to cling to for dear life. And I still came out not believing. And I still get told I just didn’t “rely on my love of Jesus enough”. Because no matter how much you follow their impractical rules Christians will blame you for taking your very rational doubts to their very rational conclusions.

If you say you loved Jesus with all your heart, they will tell you your faith was emotionalism. If you say you were a virgin ’til you deconverted they’ll tell you you tried to save yourself by works. If you tell them you studied theology and defended the faith with every ounce of your mind and still found it intellectually bankrupt they’ll blame you for “relying on your own understanding”. They will say any fucking thing to you necessary to assure themselves that it’s your moral failing that was at fault and not the falsehood that they will assert in the teeth of all evidence, at all times, on pain of any fucking contradiction whatsoever. “Fuck me in the ass because I love Jesus” indeeeeed.

Your Thoughts?

Related posts:

Love Virginity

Before I Deconverted, I Already Believed In Equality Between The Sexes

After My Deconversion: I Refuse To Let Christians Judge Me

A Postmortem on my Deconversion: Was it that I just didn’t love Jesus enough?

Sex and Apostasy

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • David Simon

    This is amazing and you are my hero, Dan.

  • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

    My new wife and I challenged a lot of the ideas about sex which had been told to us with both of us growing up evangelical (we are both still Christian, mind you). On the other hand, our experiences together have shown me some other ways in which secular culture sometimes also gets things wrong.

    Namely, sex with multiple partners or viewing sex in pornography or other media tends to set up this idea of what I’m calling “objective sex.” That is, we build up the expectations for sex in a particular way so as to think that sex should be one thing or another, when in actuality, sex is subjective and grows out of healthy, loving relationships.

    When we start thinking of sex as something which exists independently of the relationships in which we find ourselves, we set ourselves up to be unfaithful — seeking our sexual ideal outside the relationship — or sexually abusive — physically or emotionally coercing our sexual ideal onto our relationship partner.

    Evangelical culture does little to help this, though, because it is that culture which drives teens’ sexualities into hiding. Porn is an easy outlet, because it can be done with relative secrecy and offers endless stimulation. Thus, an objective notion of sex forms sans any significant other, because this is the easiest way for sexuality to express itself.

    There are no easy answers that I can see for how we should address sexuality as a society, because there are problems at every turn. Still, perhaps the first step is admitting we have a problem.

    • cripdyke

      we build up the expectations for sex in a particular way so as to think that sex should be one thing or another,

      This isn’t something to blame on pornography fFs. This is something to blame on religion. Pornography comes in so many flavors it’s ridiculous. To say that pornography leads to the idea that sex has to be a specific thing, that’s so utterly misguided I simply don’t know from whence it comes.

      Now, certainly someone with little experience of sex who sees one particular piece of pornography, or a few that are seemingly identical may come out of that experience with a view of what sex “should” be. But this seems to me to be likely to happen because **before any experiences with sex, children in US culture are primed by religion to attach “shoulds” to sex**. The kids have already been taught that there is a right way to have sex – now they’re just trying to learn which way that is.

      Any notion of “objective” sex is created very early in children in the US. Porn can affect which sex is seen as the sex which objective sex denotes as good/right/appropriate, but it doesn’t create the idea of one true sex. That’s religion.

      in actuality, sex is subjective and grows out of healthy, loving relationships.

      No. As you suggest later, sex grows out of relationships. The healthy and loving are to be hoped for and encouraged, but sex grows out of lots and lots of relationships that are only one or neither of those.

      When we start thinking of sex as something which exists independently of the relationships in which we find ourselves, we set ourselves up to be unfaithful … or sexually abusive…

      …Evangelical culture does little to help this,

      Right. Evangelical culture creates this. It is constantly stating what sex “should” be and who “should” have sex and what is the objective “one best/right/appropriate” sex.

      I don’t have any first hand knowledge of any porn video that starts off with an intro that says, “Don’t forget folks, this is the one true way to have sex!” Maybe you’ve seen some porn that does this, but in a world of billions with their idiosyncratic desires, it ain’t porn that’s presenting sex as only good if it’s done one particular way.

    • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

      this, but in a world of billions with their idiosyncratic desires, it ain’t porn that’s presenting sex as only good if it’s done one particular way.

      Right. Or we wouldn’t have Rule 34.

    • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

      I believe you have misunderstood what I meant by objective sex, though I didn’t explain it very well. Sex which develops outside of a relationship brings expectations to relationships that may be out of sync with the expectations of the partner. How many times have you heard of guys expecting women to perform like porn stars? Don’t pretend like porn sans religion presents no problems whatsoever.

    • cripdyke

      First: You still haven’t defined objective sex. I’m moving forward with the understanding that a good definition for what you’re discussing is

      “there is one objectively correct way (or set of ways) to have sex”

      If this isn’t correct, what you need are not more examples, but an actual definition.

      Second: I didn’t pretend that porn sans relgion has no problems whatsoever.

      I would thank you not to create positions that are nowhere found in my writing and ascribe them to me.

      I was not under the impression that the options were

      1) Chris is totally right

      2) Porn has no problems sans religion whatsoever.

      It is entirely possible that porn has horrific problems AND that you have described a specific problem inaccurately – in this case attributing it to porn (as a cause).

      Further to that, and Third: You made this claim:

      viewing sex in pornography or other media tends to set up this idea of what I’m calling “objective sex.” That is, we build up the expectations for sex in a particular way so as to think that sex should be one thing

      And I’ve said that the vast diversity of porn makes it impossible to conclude from surveying porn that there is one right way to have sex.

      The ***idea*** of objective sex – that there is one right way to have sex – doesn’t come from porn.

      What you’re talking about, that people create stereotypes of what sex should be and that porn sometimes is incorporated into those stereotypes, is a dynamic not created by porn itself. If porn didn’t exist, would there still be people saying that there’s “one right way” to have sex?

      Absolutely. They would be [vastly?] disproportionately religious officials and enthusiasts.

      I have challenged your framing that porn creates the idea of one true sex and religion simply fails to fix it.

      On the contrary, porn presents multiple, even myriad, views of how sex can happen.

      If you want to assert otherwise, I suggest you bring some evidence.

      ===========
      Fifth, and to get to the meat of your latest comment:

      Sex which develops outside of a relationship brings expectations to relationships that may be out of sync with the expectations of the partner

      a) which is just fine as long as your expectations are starting points for communication with your sex partners, not unexpressed demands. Unexpressed demands are a problem whether they are sexual or not.

      b) no sex happens outside relationships. Duh. You are interacting with your self? That’s a relationship with yourself. You are interacting with another person? That’s a relationship with another person. Whether your interaction lasts 17 minutes or 17 years does not make it less or more a relationship. It makes it a relationship of a different duration and changes the odds of the relationship having a certain character. That’s it.

      Please tell me how I can have sex with someone without relating to them. Because that sounds an awful lot like rape.

      c) this has nothing to do with porn, which was the point against which I argued

      d) how we are raised as children contributes to the development of expectations that we bring to later sexual relationships.

      Therefore we shouldn’t raise children?

      The mere fact that personal experience is brought into a relationship is not a harm. It is the combination of individuals and their unique sets of experience that makes a relationship unique.

      To sum up:
      If the question is whence comes the notion of “one true sex”, the question is answered far better by “religion” than by “porn”.

      If the question is, ‘now that we are certain that there is one true sex, what are the boundaries of that one true sex?’ that question is answered sometimes through watching porn, sure. But it’s also answered by listening to peers, pastors, or parents, etc., etc. And don’t pretend that those influences on sex lives can only be positive.

    • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

      Sorry; I don’t mean to put words in your mouth. I just don’t take post commenting very seriously anymore, because it can suck you in for hours. I generally just throw out the general idea of what I want to present for consideration and then leave it alone.

    • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

      I thought he was critiquing “objective” sex and implicitly meaning something like objectifying people merely as objects for sexual gratification.

    • cripdyke

      great take, Dan. That’s helpful.

      Of course, it could be wrong. We have no idea since Chris hasn’t given us a definition and I still think that my interpretation is is quite reasonable.

      “objective sex.” That is, we build up the expectations for sex in a particular way so as to think that sex should be one thing or another, when in actuality, sex is subjective and grows out of healthy, loving relationships

      This doesn’t really say anything about treating people as objects. It rather speaks of objective sex as “expectations for sex in a particular way”.

      But if Chris was trying to say something like what you suggest, it means that what follows “objective sex” doesn’t follow.

      But I would agree that much of porn – I have no idea what percent – is created in an objectifying manner. I also agree that whether or not it was made without objectification, much of porn use is likely objectifying.

      If that’s all Chris was saying, then sure. We’re in agreement.

      Again, Dan, thanks for the alternative way of looking at what Chris might be saying.

    • Paul McGuire

      I agree with you that we need to figure out a good compromise between religious teachings that sex outside of marriage is always wrong and society’s message that sex is so amazing that you should have any sex you can even if that means you aren’t committed emotionally to anyone you are having it with. The religious teachings tend to make people rush into marriage because then they can have sex, which leads to marriages that don’t last because people weren’t prepared for what marriage really means.

      I still believe that like you said sex generally should be a component of a romantic relationship because without that connection it loses meaning. Of course this leaves it up to the individuals in those relationships to determine if the relationship is serious enough for sex, something that religious leaders would never want to happen.

    • cripdyke

      Do you need to be really emotionally committed to someone to go skydiving with them?

    • 3lemenope

      Maybe your skydiving technique differs from mine, but generally when I jump out of a plane with another person, genital frisson leading to the orgasm hormone cascade generally isn’t a part of it.

      Since sexuality is integrated at a very deep level with identity, not to mention primary experience of the world, I’m willing to bet that sex is slightly more psychologically charged than skydiving, and concomitantly deserves just a teensy bit more gravity in consideration.

    • cripdyke

      teensy bit more gravity in consideration

      I see what you did there!

      But seriously, LMNOP, I was replying to a specific comment and would hope that what I said would be read in that context.

      Also, the point of a metaphor isn’t that things are exactly the same. If they were, it wouldn’t be a metaphor.

      So to be pedantic about the whole thing, Paul McGuire says:

      sex generally should be a component of a romantic relationship because without that connection it loses meaning.

      Skydiving carries serious risks, and requires a certain level of trust. Like skydiving, sex can be performed with long developed trust or misplaced trust or trust granted by default, in a gullible way, whether or not the trusted is actually worthy.

      Like sex, skydiving is a different experience performed alone or with others. Skydiving benefits hugely from a good relationship with yourself. It benefits from good relationships with your skydiving partners when done with others. Pulling each other’s ripcord can have great meaning. The experience of meaning is so great that couples have been married in free fall.

      And that’s all wonderful.

      But saying it therefore “should” be done only with others and only when the level of meaning is so great that you’d marry them in free fall is ridiculous.

      Likewise, it’s ridiculous that because sex can benefit hugely from certain things, that it should only be done in the presence of those things.

      For instance, it can also benefit hugely when not under pressure of time. Should there be no such thing as quickies?

      It can benefit from performance in a semi-public place with a real risk of getting caught. Should there be no such thing as fully private sex?

      “I experience benefit X to thing Y from condition Z” is not an argument that thing Y is of no value or ought not be done unless condition Z is satisfied. People [including Paul McGuire] are throwing that around this thread, and it’s ridiculous.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      I disagree. There’s nothing wrong with friends-with-benefits, or one-night stands, or orgies. What matters is consent of all parties; whether sex is a fun hobby or something super serious that you save for The One is something each individual can decide for themselves. There’s no one right answer.

      Squishing sex into the “romance box” is still putting too many limits when it is the individual who determines the meaning of the sex they have (or don’t have as the case may be).

    • wombat

      Why does sex need to have ‘meaning’, and why do we need to be ‘committed emotionally’? Sex really isn’t that special for everyone. It can be something that you simply enjoy when the opportunity presents itself and you’re comfortable with the situation.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Speak for yourself. Do not speak of your opinions on a matter as facts.

      Sex *for you* may be something that “grows out of healthy, loving relationships” (Whatever that even means), but that is not true for everyone. I don’t need a loving relationship to have sex. And my lack of a need for a relationship before going at it does not affect how I view sex, nor does it make me view the people I have sex with any “cheaper” or with less respect.

      The same goes for having multiple partners. Having been with multiple partners doesn’t make me think sex should be a certain way; much the opposite. It’s taught me that there are lots of differing ways to get sexual pleasure, and not everyone conforms to the same 2 or 3 ideals.

      And, really? Acknowledging that sex does not require a relationship sets one up to cheat? This is a character flaw of yours, good sir, not of everyone as a whole. Decent people don’t need to tie their hands with weird thinking and loopy logic to not cheat on their SO. We do it because cheating is wrong, and cheating hurts our SO.

      Also, you’re completely leaving out that there’s more than one definition of “faithful,” and that such a thing is an area where couples should talk and figure out what works best for them and their needs/situation. Instead, you’re defining it as strict monogamy, and that doesn’t work for everyone.

      I’m not even addressing your tacking sexually abusive on there; it’s offense BS not worth the dignity talking about it would give it.

      You’re right: Religion does have a sex problem. But keep your problems to yourself; don’t pin them on everyone. What works for you sexually does not work for everyone on the planet; you do not have the only correct view. And to claim otherwise is at best self-righteous blindness.

  • Obliged_Cornball

    I like how you manage to turn the reasoning of Rishmaway and others on its head. It’s not that young adults become slaves to irrational passions, but that they reason about the beneficial effects of their passions. I certainly hope you’re right, because this is a much more positive view of human development.

  • SocraticGadfly

    What if Jesus himself came up my back door? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in love?

  • Machintelligence

    I don’t know where this leaves all of us who discovered we were atheists pre-puberty.

    I also enjoy the argument that to find faith one must be “like a little child” while to reject it one needs to understand the subtleties of theology.

  • http://wateringgoodseeds.tumblr.com/ Shira Coffee

    I think your last graf hits it on the head, Dan. If you set things up so that, if ANYTHING is false then EVERYTHING is false, then just about any small problem with the facts you’ve been taught can end up destroying the whole structure. That’s probably why fundamentalisms of many sorts are losing young people.

  • John Kruger

    As long as all involved parties demonstrate informed consent, take reasonable precautions against spreading disease, and take responsibility for any children (or actively prevent the creation of any children) that might be the product of said sex, I see no reason to object to any sexual thing people want to do in their own private lives. Too bad they did not consider things like condoms when the Bible was written.

    Funny how sex is the sin everyone wants to start doubting Christian morality for. Not so many murderers and thieves taking up “evolution or philosophy” for some reason.

  • summertimebluesandgreens

    Thank you for this. Just thank you.

  • “Rebecca”

    The no-sex-before-marriage-for-anyone-ever rule among religious types is one of the most glaring examples of a rule existing for a rule’s sake. They tried to drill us with how tainted and dirty we’d feel if we had premarital sex, and play up any potential negative consequences to the point where it was actually deceitful (like lying about the effectiveness of birth control). It’s no wonder that once out of the religious bubble, many young people start looking around and realizing that those teachings aren’t lining up with their lived experiences. And for some people, that’s all they need to start asking what /other/ lies they were being told “for their own good.”

  • JohnH2

    Re: Loophole. Paul appears to be against such practices, condemning the unnatural use of women (Romans 1:26).

    “intellectually guilty” – You appear to imply that everyone that believes is intellectually guilty, or at least everyone that reads what you write?

    “last couple of years” – I think you mean at least the last 2000 years “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign” Matthew 16:4.

    “83% of professional philosophers who are non-theists” – I would say that would be more due to 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 than because of sexual immorality, though I suppose neither are exclusive.

    “theological answers to properly philosophical” – Theology is often related and taken to be part of philosophy; in particular it has a huge impact on Metaphysics.

    “total coincidences” – yet you then go on to show they are completely related, even going so far as to have shown a potential causal chain from one to the other. Saying that neither is necessary nor sufficient for the other in all cases would be a better claim. There are surely quite a lot of believers that are sexually active but do not become atheists and there are probably quite a few atheists that choose to not be sexually active outside of committed relationships.

    “relying on your own understanding” – How can you possibly blame them for this one when it is exactly what you assert you do and glory in that assertion? You are nearly constantly claiming that this is not a moral failing so to be consistent you should probably agree to this assertion and then attempt to prove it is not a moral failing to do so.

    “the falsehood” – If you have not shown it to be false to the person you are talking to then you should probably assume that they do not see it as false.

    “contradiction” – If you have not shown a contradiction to the person you are talking to then you should probably assume that they do not see a contradiction.

    “evidence” – I would assume that most people have what they see as evidence for their beliefs.

    • http://camelswithhammers.com/ Dan Fincke Camels With Hammers

      “relying on your own understanding” – How can you possibly blame them for this one when it is exactly what you assert you do and glory in that assertion? You are nearly constantly claiming that this is not a moral failing so to be consistent you should probably agree to this assertion and then attempt to prove it is not a moral failing to do so.

      The point was that they accuse this of being a bad thing when it shouldn’t be.

      And contradictorily, when I talk about the ways that I didn’t lean on my own understanding but sought God with fullness of heart, I get told I must have just been emotional. The point is I had that recommended balance of full commitment and still saw how all this was false.

    • JohnH2

      “when it shouldn’t be.” – Relying on ones own understanding only isn’t always a good thing; It would (and does) lead to quite a lot of problems for students in academia. There are appropriate situations when one should listen to others (like if a person is suicidal, for instance).

      Within Christianity there is a very wide range of opinions on how much every person should rely on their own understanding or on emotion. It goes from everything being an individual emotional question to everything being an logical authoritative question, so saying you tried to walk the Noble Eightfold Middle Path is going to have someone say you weren’t doing something right (especially since balance isn’t seen as a virtue in all of Christianity).

  • Rosie

    Dan, I would like you to expand that last paragraph into a full-on post if you can. It’s been one of the most frustrating experiences in dealing with believers post-deconversion, that whatever my reasons and experience are they will be dismissed.

    (If you were abused by your “good Christian” boyfriend who happened to be majoring in evangelism, they’ll tell you not to judge God by those of his followers who are obviously in the wrong since they committed a crime. Which ignores just how closely the deity resembles an abuser: http://atheism.about.com/od/whatisgod/p/AbuserAbusive.htm.)

    Anyway, on the one hand it’s extremely frustrating; on the other hand, it’s kind of nice to know they’d be doing the same thing to me regardless of how I happened to come by my unbelief. And it’s something I’d like to post and share toward getting those who still believe to hopefully look at their arguments a little more closely.


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