The Instigator
MrJosh
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
dairygirl4u2c
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The Sermon on the Mount is Bad Advice

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
MrJosh
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,135 times Debate No: 56366
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)

 

MrJosh

Pro

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) [1] is Jesus’ longest sermon, and is generally considered to outline Jesus’ central teachings [2]. Some Christians claim that the teachings in the sermon are of divine origin [3], or at very least that the sermon contains great wisdom [4].

It is my position that the sermon, when taken as a whole, is not good advice. That is to say, the good bits do not outweigh the bad bits. CON will argue the opposite, that the good bits do, in fact, outweigh the bad parts.

Round 1 will be for acceptance
Round 2 for arguments
Round 3 for rebuttals
Round 4 for counter rebuttals/lose ends/final statements

Sources

[1] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[2] http://www.thinkingfaith.org...
[3] http://www.crisismagazine.com...
[4] http://www.gotquestions.org...

dairygirl4u2c

Con

here is an summary of the components of the serman on the mount.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

i contend that at the very least the good components outweigh the bad, and might even venture that there are no bad components.

for example, the beatitudes extend blessings to those who possess saintly virtue. how is this is bad thing?
Debate Round No. 1
MrJosh

Pro

I would like to thank CON for accepting this debate. In this round I will present my arguments as to why the Sermon on the Mount is, overall, not good advice. As a note, I will not go through the entire sermon; I will just be highlighting a few points to make my case. Since CON specifically mentioned the beatitudes, I will begin there (it is also convenient that they are the beginning :D).

The Beatitudes

Beginning in Matthew 5, verse 3 are the “beatitudes,” which outline various Christian ideals. At first glance these seem to be neutral, but in reality, they promote a particularly harmful worldview. Among the beatitudes are blessings to “the poor in spirit,” “they that mourn,” “the meek,” and “they which are persecuted” [1]. Jesus is basically telling people that no matter how bad things are in this life, things will be better in the next. This concept is expanded in chapter 6, verses 19 & 20.

This basically amounts to telling people to accept their lot in life, and not work to improve their station. While it may give comfort to some, it is essentially telling people not to work toward social change. This is terrible advice, since people working to improve their lives and those of others have been the driving force behind social progress throughout history [2].

Thought Crime

In verse 21, Jesus gives a prohibition on murder, which is generally agreed to be good advice. However, in verse 22, he follows that up by saying, “anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” According to Jesus, simply being angry without reason is a crime. Our emotions represent particular neuro-chemical states in our brains [3] which are largely beyond our direct control. This concept is expanded upon in verse 28 to equate lustful thoughts with adultery.

By criminalizing something that cannot be changed, Jesus is setting up a situation where no one can possibly uphold the law. Having standards that cannot be met will result in stress, role conflict, and dysfunction [4]. Not only is Jesus’ prohibition of certain thoughts absurd, it may lead to societal harm; it is not good advice.

Giving Stuff Away

Verse 40 basically says that if someone sues you for your coat, you are to also give them your cloak. This is absurd advice. If you have a legal system that establishes certain penalties, good advice would be to adhere to those legal standards. On the same basic idea, verse 42 essentially says not to ever turn down a request from anyone. It might be good advice to encourage charity, but to tell people to never say, “no” is terrible advice which leads to time wasting, lowered productivity, and a dysfunctional social environment [5].

No Thought for the Morrow

Chapter 6, verses 25-34, contain terrible advice to not plan for the future. We are told to, “not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” [6]. This whole section tells us not to work because God will provide. However, it is clear that we need to plant seeds so we can eat, and we need to make (or buy) clothes to protect us from the elements. Verse 34 sums it up well when it says, “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” [7]. I’m sorry, it won’t.

Final Thoughts

I have outlined several parts of the Sermon on the Mount that amount to bad advice. I look forward to CON’s comments, and the subsequent discussion.

Sources

[1] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[2] http://www.socialprogressimperative.org...
[3] http://experiencelife.com...
[4] http://files.eric.ed.gov...
[5] http://www.holycrossenergyleadershipacademy.com...
[6] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[7] http://www.biblegateway.com...


dairygirl4u2c

Con

"Jesus is basically telling people that no matter how bad things are in this life, things will be better in the next."

how is that a bad thing? it's a message of hope. if it's true, that's awesome, is it not?

he never said anything about accepting one's lot in life. he's merely saying if you are lowly such as those, keep your chin up.

you can control your thoughts for the most part. do not dwell on things that you shouldn't. if you tell yourself not to htink of an elepahnt, you will think of an elephant, sure. but just move on with it. no one expects that Jesus meant even a passing thought. but even if he did, it onlly shows the ideal standard that no one can meet, that no one is perfect. if you choose to become dysfunctioned because of this, that is on you. it is in fact better to respond wiht humility and resign yourself to God's mercy.

giving your cloak when someone sues you for your coat. it's just the point that you should not be caught up in a tit for tat mentality, or eye for eye. if someone sues you for something, why not just give them what they want and something else showing that you do not need material wealth, or do not need to make an issue out of it. there are common sense limits on what all this could mean, and to say Jesus is going beyond that is not a reasonable approach.

you are essneitally going beyond what would be common sense in the worrying about morrow bit. hes just saying not to get caught up, relax a little, put more trust in God.
Debate Round No. 2
MrJosh

Pro

Thank you CON for your comments. Although the second round was for you to make your own argument in support of your agreed upon resolution, I will be happy to address the points you brought up.

The Beatitudes

It is my contention that the Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount are telling people to accept their lot, and to not try to improve their position. CON has argued that I am misinterpreting these verses by saying, “he never said anything about accepting one's lot in life. he's merely saying if you are lowly such as those, keep your chin up.” Unfortunately, this does not fit with other things Jesus said.

In Matthew 19:21, Jesus says that in order to receive eternal life, one must “sell your possessions,” in order to gain “treasure in heaven” [1]. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says that in order to truly be his disciple one must hate their family [2]. Now it is possible that Jesus is making an extreme claim to make a point, but the fact that he said these things suggests that being of low station, and having no earthly ties is a virtue, which is exactly the point of the Beatitudes. If one is of low station, one will receive “treasure in heaven.” Therefore, he is saying that the way to get to heaven is to make yourself lower; he has turned being persecuted, in mourning, etc, into a virtue.

Thought Crime

CON has contended that we can control our thoughts, but has admitted that we can only do so, “for the most part.” CON seems to suggest that these “thought crimes” are only such when we dwell on them. Unfortunately, this viewpoint lacks biblical support. As I noted previously, Matthew 5:28 equates a lustful thought with the action, and earlier in that chapter in verse 22 anger is equated with murder. When this is seen in the broader context of the God of the bible judging humans based on their beliefs [3][4], I think it is clear that we are talking about simple thoughts, not dwelling on things as CON suggests.

Another claim CON has made is that it is our choice if we dwell on things. While this may be true to a point, the existence of disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [5], and Generalized Anxiety Disorder [6] show that we don’t always have control of our thoughts, so even if CON’s claim that Jesus is talking only about dwelling on things is correct, he is still damming numerous individuals who dwell on these things uncontrollably.

Giving Stuff Away

I made the point that Jesus gives some really bad advice on how to handle one’s personal property. My claim is based on the actual words of Jesus as written in the bible. CON is trying to claim that this passage should be interpreted differently, but has given no support to her claim. I submit that her claim can be disregarded unless it is supported.

No Thought for the Morrow

In pretty much the same way as the previous section, CON is lobbying for a particular interpretation, while I am actually discussing the words on the page. I noted that Jesus instructed his followers not to plan for the future because God would provide, but CON would have us believe that his words should not be followed, but instead that there is an underlying meaning that should be followed instead. I request that CON provide evidence for that viewpoint.

I would, however, like to elaborate on this point. If we look to Jesus’ other teachings for context, which I have already mentioned above, we see that he tells would be disciples to hate their families [2], and to sell all of their possessions [1][7]. It seems that Jesus often instructed his followers to do things that would violate common sense, so CON’s claim that we should temper his teachings with “commons sense” would seem to violate the spirit of Jesus’ teachings.

Good Bits

While I freely admit that there are some good bits in the Sermon on the Mount, I would like to point out that CON has yet so bring any of them up in order to explain how they outweigh the negative things I have brought to bear.

Final Thoughts

I feel I have answered CON’s objections to my points, I look forward to the next round.

[1] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[2] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[3] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[4] http://www.biblegateway.com...
[5] http://www.nimh.nih.gov...
[6] http://www.nimh.nih.gov...
[7] http://www.biblegateway.com...

dairygirl4u2c

Con

on the thoughts point. even if passing thoughts are what's wrong, all that can do is highlight that we are not perfect. it should make us humble etc. if you go nuts because your inability to be perfect, that is more your problem than something wrong with the teaching itself.

all the other points by con involve him taking the text and Jesus further than is reasonable. ive already touched on the points, so there's no point repeating them.
Debate Round No. 3
MrJosh

Pro


CON’s comments in the last round have intrigued me; but if she feels she has sufficiently made her point, that is her business. I will simply offer a few closing thoughts and then await the same from CON.


Thought Crime


CON is suggesting that that our inability to control our thoughts highlights the fact that we are not perfect. While I don’t necessarily disagree with this, it is irrelevant to the point that Jesus has criminalized this uncontrollable behavior. CON has not even addressed the absurdity of criminalizing a behavior that is outside of our control.


Interpretation


It seems that CON’s main argument is that I am taking the words of Jesus to an unnecessary extreme. As I have pointed out, I am simply discussing the actual words on the page; CON has offered no reasoning as to why we should use her interpretation. Therefore, this whole argument falls flat and my points stand.


Good vs. Bad (Final Thoughts)


The only good bit in the Sermon on the Mount that CON has brought up is her claim that the beatitudes offer a message of hope. I feel I have adequately shown how the beatitudes are not good, but in fact, dangerous to society.


There are a few good bits in the sermon that were not brought up in this debate, such as the advice in 5:23 to reconcile your differences, and in 5:33-37 to speak plainly and honestly. However, not only is this advice not revolutionary or special in any way, it is overshadowed by Jesus’ criminalization of uncontrollable thoughts and advice to not plan for the future, as well as the other points I bought up (and others, seriously, just go read the thing).


I would like to thank CON for this debate. Like most debates I propose, I did so in order to organize my own thoughts on the matter, and regardless of what anyone else thinks of the debate, I have accomplished that goal. I will now leave the floor to CON for her final round comments.


dairygirl4u2c

Con

why is it absurd to criminalize things that are outside of our control? thought is something that is not inherently out of our control given we controour brains, but is only effectively out of our control. bannign something that is inherently out of our control might be viewed as problematic. but here is it at least in theory possible to control your thoughts. if you decide to go crazy cause you cant control them, that is more on you.

all the other points by con involve him taking the text and Jesus further than is reasonable. ive already touched on the points, so there's no point repeating them.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by subjectname 2 years ago
subjectname
Pro made good points and was not sufficiently rebutted. "the Bible says that but doesn't mean that" is insufficient rebuttal. Pro also left out many other points: Turning the other cheek (invites exploitation and victimization); Jesus also advises self mutilation/eye gouging (generally not good). And of course loving your enemies (stupidly fatal advice...as Hitchens said "[Christianity] tells me to love my enemies. And I don"t do that and I don"t want you doing it for me either. Go love your own enemies. Don"t be loving mine. I"ll get on with the business of destroying, isolating, and combating the enemies of civilization.")

In his Sermon Jesus also told his followers if they're going to pray, go into their closets to pray, not in public to be seen by others. It would seem 90% disregard this advice outright.

Obviously what happens is, no one wants to sell all their stuff, give everything to the poor, pray in a closet, and not give any thought for the future...so Jesus didn't "really" mean that.
Posted by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
The thing that amuses me about the Sermon On The Mount, is that there is no evidence of any of the teachings of Jesus being written down until the Gospels, which appeared around 30+ years after the death of Jesus. So these teachings were rattling around in people's skulls and transferred by Rote leaning until finally being written. Most of the apostles were dead before then, so the likelihood of any of the teachings being accurate is almost nil.
Some historians think that many of the Teachings of Jesus may have been added or supplemented by Buddhist teachings that the Gospel writers thought were superior, thus the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and Buddha.
Yet, many of the Buddhist teachings were more rational.
Posted by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
Oh, sorry, it looks like someone beat you to it.
Posted by MrJosh 2 years ago
MrJosh
If you like; I'm not picky. I just wanted to do it as an excuse to organize my thoughts on the matter.
Posted by SweeneyTodd 2 years ago
SweeneyTodd
I'm a nonbeliever but I am happy to play devil's advocate.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
MrJoshdairygirl4u2cTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Con drops a ton of arguments. Pro offers more, and more in depth source material, better integrating those sources into his presentation. Vote Pro.
Vote Placed by Mikal 2 years ago
Mikal
MrJoshdairygirl4u2cTied
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Reasons for voting decision: this is pretty explanatory but all of pros contentions were left untouched and he was the only one with viable sources
Vote Placed by Sagey 2 years ago
Sagey
MrJoshdairygirl4u2cTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's argument shows that following the Sermon on the mount, leads to poor character, Con's rebuttals are not strong enough in countering this, instead just asserts that the Sermons have no problems. Con's only source is not conclusive for Con's case.
Vote Placed by Ajab 2 years ago
Ajab
MrJoshdairygirl4u2cTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro clearly one when he analysed the sermon from a purely practical form and he gave better arguments. Happy to clarify this RFD.