Morals or courtesies that you didn't realize weren't universal.

This is pretty common for me to discover on this board, as some of you may have noticed in the past. But surely I’m not the only one. There are just things that you consider “the way things are done” that are not as universal as you thought.

A big one for me was the adage about “hate the sin, not the sinner,” which I’ve heard a lot of you disagree with. A smaller but equally surprising one was that not every teacher would let you keep your grade if you alert them to a mistake made in your favor.

So what things do you guys have? Don’t be shy–I know I’ve seen at least a few incredulous posts caused by this situation.

Disagree with? In what way?

I mean, I know a lot of Dopers are skeptical that people who cite the adage actually do confine their hatred to the “sin,” but are you suggesting that there are a significant number of Dopers who find it to be unworthy as an ideal? If so, who?

taking off shoes when entering a household, it isn’t done here in Middle Tennessee, but others wouldn’t dream of entering a house wearing their street shoes.

Well, since we seem to be talking more etiquette than morals, I’m living in China right now…where do I start?

Let’s go with queuing. Where I’m from, people politely queue up and in the unlikely event someone pushed in, people would be pissed and it may well cause some drama.
(OK, I’m from England, which is famous for politely queuing, but it’s the same across much of Europe IME.)

Here in China, a stock exchange style free-for-all is the more natural state, so where queues exist, people are constantly pushing in and trying to shove round people.
But no-one ever cares that someone pushed in. They just think “Shit, why didn’t I do that?” or “I must have left too big a gap in front of me”.
Pushing in is not considered a bad thing to do.

Not reading or just skimming the OP.

Telling me what I must think or believe and then getting nasty about it if I do not agree and / or change.

Not doing what they promise me they will do.

I grew up having heard of people feeling a need to say “God bless you” to you just because you sneezed, but until I emigrated to the NYC area in 1984 I’d never encountered it on such a scale.

Up here complete and utter strangers on the subway who would otherwise politely ignore you in the normal fashion of urban commuters will actually say “God bless you” if you sneeze. I found it hilarious and kept wanting to ask people whether they believed my soul had fled my body along with my sneezy air, and I suggested a fake sneeze as a good way to get to know people if you come up here and don’t know anyone and you’re lonely.

I presume the folks from around here would be surprised if they went to Albuquerque or Athens GA and sneezed on the bus.

Another responder wondered who doesn’t believe in this, well…

Yeah, I don’t agree with this. It comes across to me as arrogant and prejudicial.

It presumes that the person saying it feels himself capable of judging what is a sin. It also shows prejudice against people who don’t happen to believe in the same things you believe in.

Ignoring for now the “big” things that could be considered a sin, like murder, rape, and theft, what are the smaller things that are considered a sin by some people?

How about:

  • not going to church on Sunday.
  • being a homosexual.
  • eating pork.
  • a woman not covering her head.
  • a woman being out in public without a male relative.
  • not giving 10% or your income to the church.
  • doing any work on Sunday.
  • premarital sex.
  • going to a psychiatrist.
  • using birth control.
  • not trying to spread your beliefs among unbelievers.

All of these things are considered “sins” by some group of people. So does that mean that all of these things should be hated? Or should only the things that don’t agree with your beliefs be hated? If you believe the latter, doesn’t that seem like prejudice? Or arrogance, if you are 100% convinced that your beliefs happen to be the only correct beliefs?

“Live and Let Live”, combined with “Your right to swing your fist stops at my nose” seem like better maxims to me. But perhaps that’s just my arrogance and prejudice showing. :smiley:


I was in my late 20s before I realized that it was more polite to be five minutes late to a social engagement than five minutes early. That still bugs me.

In the U.S.: Standing in a long line at the supermarket, then participating in a stampede when a new lane opens. Not in Europe. The line went all the way across the store, but when a new line opened, everyone remained in the first line, allowing new people to use the new one. And nobody complained.

Parties, yes. But meeting friends for lunch somewhere? I don’t know where in the world it is more polite to show up late rather early in this situation.

I’m guessing you, personally, don’t believe that any of those things are sins. Your problem isn’t with hating the sin, it’s with classifying such things as sin in the first place. (I suspect you may also be getting caught up on the religious connotation of the word “sin,” which is a red herring.) To consider something a sin yet be perfectly okay with it is a contradiction in terms.

What do you consider a sin, but you don’t hate?

Exactly. As an example jharvey963, I could believe it’s a sin to discriminate against homosexuals. I could also believe it’s a sin to proselytize in any way other than being an example. I can hate those sins- but that doesn’t mean I should hate the people. And I suppose it might mean that I’m arrogant in thinking that my beliefs are correct- but again, that’s a contradiction in terms. Why in the world would I hold a belief that I didn’t think was correct?

Holy cow me too. The way I was raised, the starting time of an event is the absolutely latest time it’s acceptable to show up. It bothers me that other people don’t see it that way.

Also, who/what group considers going to a psychiatrist to be a sin? I haven’t heard that one.

If Tom Cruise is any indication, Scientologists.

It’s rude to show up to someone’s HOUSE early. They may not have pants on, or still have dishes in the sink, or whatever. It’s not rude to show up to a movie, restaurant, theater, Starbucks, or any other public venue early.

jharvey’s answer is not the one I was talking about. I’m talking about the people who say that your actions or beliefs are not separate from who you are. I’ve seen it pop up in many threads, albeit not in a while. Usually it pops up in civil rights type threads, where it’s impossible to like someone who is homophobe, for example. I hate homophobia, but I don’t hate homophobes. I’ve been told repeatedly that this is a meaningless distinction.

Plus, when taken to extremes, “hate the sin, not the sinner” forbids hating any person. You aren’t going to hate someone for just existing. It’s their actions that are going to lead you to hate them. But a wrong action is just another word for “sin,” making them “sinners.” It’s an ideal I have a hard time living up to, so I was very surprised that many don’t bother.

So the soft version of the belief I’ve heard disclaimed occasionally, but the hard version is almost completely foreign to how most dopers think. The idea that it’s okay to hate someone is not something I’d encountered until this messageboard.

Having explained that, I don’t really want this thread to get bogged down with any explanations. Please limit explanations to a single response and move on. If you have more questions about an assumption, please start a new thread.

Smiling and saying good morning when passing on the street. Not sure which Asian culture it is that frowns on this. Possibly Korean, they do seem to adapt to Americans doing this rather quickly and will readily resond in kind once they figure out it is ok.

All of them. There is nothing one considers “common” that others won’t find “weird” or, worse, “insulting”.

Well, except that anti-murder thing. That seems a pretty universal moral… well, most of the time.

Here’s a stupid mind game I attribute to mostly Southerners:
You’re having dinner at a friends house. The host offers you the last pork chop. If you accept this kind offer, you’re a rude asshole for some reason.

In my experience, there are plenty of places in America that frown on this, too (or not actually frown - it’s more that they break eye contact and start walking faster).