Saturday, June 07, 2008

What is the Worst Thing a Person can Be?

In response to Nina's question on my previous post:

Why do you think the worst thing is to be a Christian? Aren't there a lot of things worse than that? It seems believing in Jesus is just a conclusion of interpretation of scripture that some people make. It doesn't seem immoral, hateful, or anti-holy.

Well, I never said, nor do I believe, that the worst thing a person can be is a Christian. Obviously, after careful consideration, I don't believe in the whole theology, and I'm not a Christian. I'm also not a Buddhist, an Anarchist, a Nudist, or a Libertarian, and I could explain my reasoning there as well. I'm just doing the best I can with the tools I've got.

I have no idea what the worst thing a person can be is, and it may be different from person to person, depending on his or her natural inclinations. Let God make that judgement. According to Judaism, those who descended from Noah (which is basically everyone in the world) is responsible for the seven Noahide laws:

1. Idolatry is forbidden. Man is commanded to believe in the One G-d alone and worship only Him.
2. Incestuous and adulterous relations are forbidden. Human beings are not sexual objects, nor is pleasure the ultimate goal of life.
3. Murder is forbidden. The life of a human being, formed in G-d's image, is sacred.
4. Cursing the name of G-d is forbidden. Besides honoring and respecting G-d, we learn from this precept that our speech must be sanctified, as that is the distinctive sign which separated man from the animals.
5. Theft is forbidden. The world is not ours to do with as we please.
6. Eating the flesh of a living animal is forbidden. This teaches us to be sensitive to cruelty to animals. (This was commanded to Noah for the first time along with the permission of eating meat. The rest were already given to Adam in the Garden of Eden.)
7. Mankind is commanded to establish courts of justice and a just social order to enforce the first six laws and enact any other useful laws or customs.

(These laws were taken from a separate website which also provides a detailed explanation of the biblical basis for these laws.)

That's it. A Non-Jew who follows these laws has a place in the world to come. No need to become Jewish or Christian. There is, in fact, an religion of non-Jews based on this understanding, the Bnei Noach.

There is some question as to whether Christianity is a violation of Noahide Law number one (prohibition against Idolatry) for a Goy (non-Jew.) On the one hand, Christianity has brought the idea of one God to the rest of a humanity which was previously pagan, so it's a step in the right direction. On the other hand, Christianity teaches about three gods, god taking human form, and various other concepts which are completely impossible to square with a Jewish understanding. On the one hand, Christianity has spread the idea of a God who gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount Sinai to the rest of humanity. On the other hand, Christianity has also been responsible for some of the most terrible persecutions of Jews. So, as I said before, I don't think Christianity is necessarily the worst thing a person can be. My feelings are mixed.

I do, however, believe that becoming a Christian is among the worst things a Jew can do to himself. For a Jew, a higher standard exists, and to believe in the trinity and in a human god is definately placing other gods before the God who gave the Torah at Mount Sinai. There are three sins which a Jew is required to give his life rather than commit:

1. Idolatry.
2. Murder.
3. Incest.

Jews throughout the ages have given up their lives rather than make the slightest hint which could be interpreted as conversion to Christianity. Of course, the Jews who did convert to Christianity whom I have met over the years are so ignorant of Judaism that I don't know if they can be held completely responsible for their own beliefs. They are, however, held fully accountable for other Jews whom they lead astray, regardless of understanding, and they certainly aren't doing themselves any favors in the world to come.

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