You’ve heard it said that one man’s heaven is another man’s hell.
I think the same thing applies to right and wrong. Having grown up in fundamentalist Christian churches and school, I was exposed to lots of people who had a clearly defined sense of right and wrong. I also have many non-Christian friends, and their ideas of right and wrong are very different.
For example, the people I grew up with would be mortified at the thought of listening to “secular music,” having long hair (for guys), showing cleavage (for girls), going to see an R rated movie… and the list goes on. The basic things like not killing and stealing are universally accepted. But it’s all that other stuff that seems to be gray area.
I think that people’s sense of right and wrong sometimes get magnified in certain areas that they personally struggle with. For example, someone who can’t stop thinking about women might decide that all women should wear burkas. Oh wait – that IS what happens in Muslim countries. But also it happens here in America. Not the burka thing… but forcing women to dress a certain way so that we men won’t have dirty thoughts. That’s a very normal fundamentalist Christian thing to have as a standard. And even the Bible debunks this idea – “All these rules do not restrain sexual immorality…” In other words, making up a bunch of arbitrary rules will not stop people from thinking whatever they want.
But I would contend that it’s the man’s responsibility not to be a cretin, not the woman’s responsibility to make herself unattractive. Don’t you agree?
I recently posted some new photos on Facebook in my Barrett Graphics album. There wasn’t anything nude or lingerie… just sexy. They were pictures of an attractive young lady in sexy outfits. I immediately got a frenzy of emails from several of my fundamentalist friends asking me to remove them.
Out of respect, I did remove them. I can understand that Facebook is a very public forum where people of all types hang out. But that got me thinking…. why do I have to? These photos, although sexy, were not inappropriate in my opinion. The model was perfectly comfortable showing the photos to her friends and family. I was and still am very proud of the quality of the photography, which was what I was trying to show off.
Thus I’m left wondering why several people were offended by the photos I posted. Is this back to that “higher standard” crap that I hate so much? Do I have a duty to make sure nothing I do offends anyone? Or even more importantly, if someone looks at a photo I take and they decide to lust, does that mean the photo is inappropriate?
I would contend that people can lust over just about anything. Like a Sears catalog for instance. Shouldn’t the standard be “does this make ME lust”? (I’m making the assumption that we all agree lust is wrong – you know – one of the 7 deadly sins.) Or is taking that position abdicating to moral relativism, which I also detest?
There’s a verse in the Bible that is often quoted in fundamentalist circles: “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” – Romans 14:13
This verse was used to justify a laundry list of rules that aren’t in the Bible. Don’t drink, because you might lead an alcoholic to fall off the wagon by your example. Don’t hold hands with a girl in public, because people will assume you’re having sex and they will have sex too. Don’t wear a short skirt, because you might cause a perv to lust over you. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Is this actually what the Bible means or are we just using it as an excuse to be legalistic? I think that what the verse REALLY means is: DON’T TAKE YOUR ALCOHOLIC FRIEND TO THE BAR AND DON’T TAKE YOUR PERVY FRIEND TO HOOTERS.
Gluttony is also a sin, but you don’t hear many people talking about that one in church. That’s because we love our potlucks and picnics just a little too much. That’s one sin we Christians just aren’t willing to give up.
So here’s my conclusion. I won’t live my life trying not to offend people. People will always find a reason to be offended. I will let my conscience be my guide because my conscience is just as good as anyone else’s. Starting next week, assuming I have time to edit it this weekend, my photography website will contain PG images.
Commence to being offended. (By which I mean, admire my talent as a photographer, for Incredipete’s sake!)