In a blog last week I wrote that "modern adults realize that Christian 'morals' are a bit silly." Those are strong words. I should have realized that this would offend many people, and I started to think maybe I should retract it.
But on reflection, I can't retract it. I know it's offensive to Christians (and Jews and Muslims, because I'll add them to the mix), but I stand by this assertion. What I will do is amplify so that it's clear exactly what I mean.
Christians are for the most part a moral group. But their morals can be divided into two parts: The morals that all people share, and the morals that are uniquely Christian.
The morals that Christians share with all civilized people are not silly. Be faithful to your mate. Don't murder. Follow the golden rule. Don't steal. Protect children. Honor our parents. These are good morals that all civilized people share. But these are not Christian morals. They are human morals that arise from nature. Jewish, Christian and Muslim authors merely incorporated these into their holy scriptures thousands of years ago. This isn't unique; every civilization does this. Christians can't make some claim to exclusivity on these universal morals. (See Atheism IS Where Morality Originates.)
What about "Christian morals," the ones that are unique to the Christian faith?
How about "no sex before marriage"? The idea that adults should wait until marriage to have sex is truly silly. Maybe it made sense when people married at age 15 and there was no birth control or condoms. But with young adults delaying marriage until age 25 to 35, it's just silly and unrealistic. It forces sexually mature adults to suppress the healthy urges of a vigorous body, and leaves them inexperienced and ignorant when they do marry.
And what about homosexuality? There is no rational reason to be biased against gays and lesbians, or to even care how, why or with whom they conduct their love lives. Yet California's Proposition 8 that would have given same-sex partners the same rights as everyone else was defeated entirely through the efforts of Christians and Mormons (yes, I know Mormons consider themselves Christians). That's not just silly, it's immoral.
What about the idea that some guy here on Earth can excommunicate you from his church, and God will actually kick you out of heaven. If anything deserves the word "silly," that's got to be it. But many Catholics actually believe that God, the creator of the entire universe, has given His authority to some old guy in Rome and permits the Pope to condemn people to eternal, horrifying, sadistic torture in God's name. And many other Christian denominations have similar rules. If that's not silly, I don't know what is.
How about the notion that only your church is the one that God favors? That if your parents happen to take you to an Episcopalian Church instead of a Southern Baptist church, you'll burn in Hell for all of eternity? That is the official belief of many churches, and it's silly.
One of my favorite bits of moral silliness is how some Christians and Jews pick and choose the morals that they like. They quote Leviticus 18:22 about homosexuality, but they leave out all the parts of Leviticus they don't like, like how it's OK to sell your daughter into slavery, and how you must cast out any man who has sex with a woman during her period. That's silly.
Calling Christian morals "silly" is not harsh at all. I'm just calling a spade a spade. But I should have been more specific: I only meant the uniquely-Christian morals. I admire Christians who follow humanist morals. It's what makes this planet a decent place.
Here's a great clip from The West Wing that says it well. The relevant part starts at the one-minute mark.