Religion: picking and choosing your commandments?

I’m not sure how to actually phrase this, but I’ll give it my best shot.
The Catholic religion doesn’t allow pre-marital sex. It doesn’t allow birth control. It’s also pro-life.

This is just one example of many in different religions where the laws of that religion actually flow together. Indeed, they become redundant…to a point. If you don’t engage in pre-marital sex you won’t need birth control and you don’t need to worry about abortions.

Clearly there are exceptions. What about the married couple that doesn’t want kids right away? What about the woman whose fetus is going to harm her if it isn’t aborted?

That I don’t want to discuss. What I want to know is why people would willingly disregard one rule of their religion and yet implement another one when it suits them.

Many Catholics engage in premarital sex. Still, they’ll refuse to use birth control because “my religion doesn’t allow it.” Or they become pregnant and then say “sorry, can’t abort. My religion doesn’t allow it.” But if they hadn’t broken a rule of their religion in the first place, they wouldn’t have needed to worry about what their religion does or doesn’t allow down the line!

I’m not picking on Catholics here. Many uphold the three laws above and there are quite a number of examples from other religions I can spout. What I’m wondering is why people would willingly disregard a fundemental tenent of their religion and then use religion as an argument for why they can’t do something that came as a consequence of their original action.

Read Karen Armstrong on the subject… The Battle For God will show about how and why seeming “inconsistancies” develop from all three prominent faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), how they make them seem consistant to them, and why these things come about…

Yer pal,

Six months, four weeks, 4 hours, 38 minutes and 12 seconds.
8447 cigarettes not smoked, saving $1,055.97.
Extra time with Drain Bead: 4 weeks, 1 day, 7 hours, 55 minutes.

David B used me as a cite!*

simple answer… we’re all sinners.

Here’s to boosting your thread back to the first page :slight_smile:

Excellent question, and it actually comes up all the time in everyone’s life, even for everyday things (ex: I won’t eat meat but I wear leather…)

I think it has partly to do with the severity of the act. Look at the 10 commandments. Most of us don’t do the really bad ones, but will not think twice about the “more minor infractions.” This is also true with the examples you listed: sex is pleasurable, the pill isn’t, and abortions most certainly aren’t. It is usually easier to get indignant about something no one wants to do than about something everyone wants to do.

This is an especially interesting question for me, because I grew up in a rabidly puritanical household, and lost my virginity at 16 without blinking an eye. However, the first time I went on the pill, I felt dirty, and I know if I were to be in a situation contemplating abortion, I would probably have some remnants of the same “sinful” feeling. And to this day, I don’t know why I never felt bad about the sex (and I still don’t). Probably because natural instincts kicked in. But I digress…

I have spoken about this with a few people, and most of the time they get so defensive and involved about the “sin” they refuse to commit that I can’t get a word in about the other “sins” they don’t have problems with. I would love to have a calm rational discussion about these “inconsistencies” with somebody who follows the rules because he/she really believes in them - unfortunately, many follow the rules just because they were raised that way.

Ah that probably didn’t help much - just unpolished thoughts. But it’s my first GD post, so what the hey! <submit>

It’s because people want the comforting weight of centuries-old tradition without the inconvenience.

Although fundamentalists are a dangerous lot, I respect them (at least in principle). “The word says this, so I believe it…you should too.” Simplistic, but you can’t really argue with it.

“Salad-bar christians” generally don’t think very much about their faith, and they pick and choose which rules they will follow in order to minimize the intrusion of their religion into their daily lives. I find this position less respectable than fundamentalism, but I get along with these people a lot better…and they tend not to bomb abortion clinics.

With regard to premarital sex vs. birth control, I once knew a Christian who had sex with her boyfriend without using birth control, because birth control, in her opinion, was a sin. After talking to her, it became clear to me that if she took responsibility for using birth control, she would have had to face the fact that she would also have to take responsibility for having sex. If she didn’t use birth control, she could always pretend that she was so swept away by her thrice-weekly moment of unexpected, overpowering passion that she just couldn’t resist. After all, if she’s not doing the smart thing, clearly it must be because she isn’t in control, and therefore can’t be held accountable for her actions. (Arguably she wasn’t in control- her religion had so rotted her brain that she could no longer take care of herself intelligently. And if you think I mean that as a knock against Jesus, you can take a leap.)