Robert Ingersoll once wrote that martyrdom establishes the sincerity of the martyr, not the correctness of his thought, and having survived too many soporific arguments with obdurate religionists to subitize, I have found that the argument usually regresses to a form of religious disingenuity; the texts of the Old Testament are rejected, along with selected parts of the New Testament (especially Matthew 5:17, where Christ affirms the old laws and prophets, i.e. the Old Testament), and dialectic reverts to the two seemingly prosaic moral exhortations: those of ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘turn the other cheek’, which eventually preponderate. Therefore, it is only a logical step that I must refute these two facile nostrums, and ratify Ingersoll’s bons mots.
To begin, the Nazarene declared at the Sermon on the Mount, and it is recorded in Matthew 5:39, that ‘I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also’. This teaching wholeheartedly exhorts passivity in the face of evil; the abnegation on the behalf of others of their right to repudiate what is wrong. One cannot feign incognizance at a teaching that is so fundamentally masochistic, and furthermore inuring to callousness toward the pain and suffering of others; this does not advocate passive resistance, as in the much heralded case of Mohandas Gandhi, but merely no resistance at all. This is not, as is often implied, the only alternative to lex talionis reciprocity, but merely the other end of the same spectrum. We are not only devaluing our own life by acceding to this demand, which should in reality be no less valuable than the lives of anothers, and therefore harming it should be less immoral, but we are also validating the behaviour of the offender, as well as directly allowing him to continue doing it to others, which we have no right to facilitate; even this is only when taken on an individual level, and not a societal level, which in itself implies even more of a degree of ownership over the lives of others than accepting this on the individual level.
Imagine a world where the teaching of ‘turn the other cheek’ was respected: the Holocaust would be resisted by neither international nor intranational defiances, but the other cheek would be turned, and the Jewish populace would presumably turn themselves in cheerfully, indomitable individuals like Witold Pilecki or Jean Moulin never having subverted the totalitarian genocide; this is only one example of the evil that would have been done if the teaching of Yeshua ben-Yosef had been upheld. Suffice to say that black rights would not have progressed to even the point of emancipation, and women’s rights would not have fared any better.
As regards the second of the two, the teaching of ‘love thy neighbour’; much can be said for this seemingly innocent proclamation. This mandate declaring that one must love indiscriminately not only vitiates but utterly negates and renders nugatory the entire notion of love, which is in itself an affront to humanity itself. It declares that we must love a recalcitrant child sex offender, or a recidivist thug, as much as we love our life partners; that we must love genocidal dictators as much as we love our own children - not that this has any meaning whatsoever because, much like the effect of printing more money on the value of money, when love is peremptorily universal, the only result is the hyperinflation and subsequent meaninglessness of love. No repudiation of ‘love thy neighbour’ is as indelible as Freud’s scathing confutation in Das Unbehagen in der Kultur, commonly known in English as Civilisation and Its Discontents, in which Freud furthers my earlier argument to state that since man is inherently aggressive, it is the act of universal love that not only extends the ‘turn the other cheek’ toleration of evil, but also extends the facilitation of evil, seeing as this act of open and unconditional love removes the negative consequences of doing evil.
It is simple to identify the subversion and subjugation of the individual running through these teachings; the preclusion of resisting evil, along with the forced love of those who perpetuate evil, resulting in a system where thoughtcrime is punished with eternity in the hell that Jesus introduced in the New Testament. I find it difficult to comprehend how these can be viewed as either moral or beneficial for those who succour to these demands.