Thought Crimes

A family member mentioned something to me recently that I found extremely curious, and I thought I’d jot it down and display it out in public forum.  According to this person’s faith, if you think something “evil,” then you are guilty of committing the act which you have imagined.  This little deontological gem comes from the section of the New Testament called beatitudes where Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  I don’t know what other scriptural support might exist to suggest that thinking about adulterous situations is equal to committing adultery, but it’s what he believes, and in fact it’s what a lot of other Mormons believe.

Sure, there’s a lot of variation from one Mormon to the next on what they do or do not believe, but I have found this piece of Kantian wisdom to be a disturbing mindset which is quite prevalent in my area, so it needs to be addressed.  This line of reasoning that my family member takes completely fails to take into account the fact that there is a fundamental difference between considering an action, and ACTING. Many people have, when angered by someone, daydreamed about the physical harm that they might inflict on that person, thoughts of revenge, one might say, are an inevitable reaction given the societal values with which we have been inculcated; a learned but nevertheless normal reaction.  Although on some level it may even be a natural reaction; from an evolutionary standpoint it may be beneficial, because if something or someone endangers you or threatens you in some way, it may have been better to eliminate that threat, rather than run the risk of a second and escalated offense.  Of course today that kind of attitude will only land you in jail and get people hurt, and we strive to overcome that sort of behavior.  That said, imagining punching someone because they called you an asshole has an extremely different effect on your immediate environment than ACTUALLY punching that person.  It doesn’t take much imagination to envision the two very different outcomes that would be achieved by these two very different reactions.  Right and wrong and justifications aside, the two scenarios have drastically different results.  Of course, a utilitarian like myself WOULD think that, and Immanuel Kant, and Jesus apparently, would have us believe that it’s the thought that counts.  Intentions determine character to them, but unfortunately, no one really knows our intentions except ourselves, so all we really have to go on is the apparent intentions of a person as evidenced by his actions.  So we kind of have to be utilitarians.  Pragmatism 1, idealism 0.

This mentally manipulative little idea that my family member borrowed from Jesus tells us that we can actually commit a sin in our mind (I call this “virtual sin”), and thus, that thoughts can be damning, regardless of your actions.  Remember that it was Jesus who first gave us the idea of eternal torment in hell; it was never mentioned in the Bible before him, and it seems that, according to Jesus, simply thinking can land you there.  This is a strong safeguard against “backsliding,” because one can commit BLASPHEMY simply by examining a rival faith or by questioning the reality of God, and we all know how the biblical god feels about blasphemers.  You can actually, according to this concept, commit the worst offense against your god, breaking the FIRST commandment, without actually doing anything at all!
This is known as a “thought crime” in many a futuristic science-fiction novel.  Little did George Orwell know, when he wrote 1984, that we didn’t have to wait for the future to be ingrained with brainwashing fears; it’s been happening for millenia, disguising itself as our greatest companion – religion.  It is ignorance calling itself bliss, falsity posing as truth, and hatefulness toward those who disagree is disguised as a “religion of peace,” and at it’s core it is, simply put, mind control and nothing more.

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7 Responses to “Thought Crimes”

  1. Take that a little farther and not only do you get Hell Points (TM) for thinking about fornication, you must, therefore, get Heaven Points (TM) for mentally helping a little old lady across the street. So when your local pastor gets carried away and accidentally kills a hooker in his hotel room in Vegas, he can counter-act that by imagining that he solved world hunger.
    As it turns out, it really is the thought that counts and you’re only as bad as your imagination.

  2. My god, man…that’s brilliant!

  3. I hope you don’t mind that I run with this on my own blog sometime in the next few days.

  4. Not at all…I am a fan of your blog, after all. Sometimes it makes me pee a little with laughter.

  5. If I can just make one person soil themselves… then I know it’s not all been in vain.

  6. […] Now, some guidelines.  First, let Me run another old saying by you.  “It’s the thought that counts.”  This is a little something My boys came up with.  Some years ago, Hippie Jesus had a little […]

  7. Science Geek Says:

    That is outstanding deduction.

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