Skip to comments.A Passion for Pain
Posted on 02/26/2004 6:03:26 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
There is a peculiar aspect of all religions that glorifies and embraces pain, suffering, and torment as virtues. The glorification of suffering is certainly not missing from the Christian religion, recently and wonderfully illustrated by Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.
In my criticism [Passion Prattle] of Rebecca Hagelin's praise for the film as an, "artistic achievement beyond any scale you could imagine," I compared the brutality of Gibson's created images to the real thing depicting the atrocities of Sadam Hussein and the Taliban to point out how the religious, revolted at images of today's sadistic murderer's excesses, are positively delighted at watching hours of much worse.
"The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and despicable piece of sadism ... It shows a man being flayed alive - slowly, methodically and with increasing savagery. We first of all witness the use of sticks, then whips, then multiple whips with barbed glass or metal. We see flesh being torn out of a man's body. ... Then we see pieces of human skin flying through the air. ... We see blood spattering on the torturers' faces. We see muscled thugs exhausted from shredding every inch of this man's body. And then they turn him over and do it all again. It goes on for ever. And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood."
This is how Anrew Sullivan graphically describes this, "artistic achievement beyond any scale you could imagine." [We do not often agree with Andrew Sullivan, but thank him for this honest description, and for having the fortitude to watch this horror in order to provide it.]
This pathological fascination with suffering in religion is not an anomaly, it is fundamental to the whole superstitious perversion which are "religious" values. Pain, suffering, and human torment are regarded as positive values, to be embraced and fostered.
"... Actors have always used celebrity to promote their principles. Redford's environmentalism Cruise's Scientology -- animal-loving starlets (Bardot, Hedren, Novak, etc.) -- what's the point of fame if you can't use it to apply your ideals?
"In Gibson's case, that means spreading religion in its fundamental sense. The Passion of the Christ's theme is that suffering, not joy, is man's proper fate." [Emphasis added.]
This despicable inversion of values, that evil (pain and suffering) is good and good (pleasure and joy) is evil, colors the Christian's perspective on everything. H. L. Mencken once defined puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." The Christian perspective is worse than that, they are terrified by the suspicion that someone, somewhere, might not be suffering and actually enjoying their life.
Worse than Marx's perversion that based the value of things on the labor required to produce them, the Christian regards the source of value of all things, not the human pleasure they give or suffering they relieve, but very opposite; the value of a thing in the Christian value system is how much pain, suffering, and self-deprivation it requires.
Recent comments to my previous article illustrate this perverted view. "It is apparent," one commentator said, "that the writer knows absolutely nothing about Christianity or faith or sacrificial love. Parents endure pain and suffering all the time for their children - if they truly love them," as thought it were the "sacrifice," "enduring pain," and "suffering," that made the love real and valuable.
It evidently does not occur to Christians, it is not the cost of what one provides one's children that determines its value, but how much real benefit it is to the children. There is something sinisterly evil in the view that the measure of love is how much pain and suffering it costs. There is hardly any other way Christians measure the value of anything. Consider what they "value" in, The Passion of the Christ.
Another comment was this: "It's not exactly a Christian discovery that good and virtue are frequently paired with the enduring of pain and suffering. Considering the way everyone of us comes into the world, that shouldn't come as a surprise to even the most secular minded."
It is certainly no surprise that Christians are opposed to anything that relieves suffering in this world, and if Christians had there way, not even the suffering accompanying childbirth would ever be relieved.
Ronald Bruce Meyer, in "Religion v. Anesthesia" records, "The controversy over the use of anesthetics has a sad history of clerical opposition, especially when suggested for women in childbirth. The clerical prohibition issues from the Bible, Genesis 3:16, and from the very mouth of God: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children."
The article, The Under-treatment of Pain - Part I, some history records, "This divine curse [Gen. 3:16] was taken so literally by religious fanatics that in 1591 King James VI of Scotland had burned at the stake a gentlewoman named Euphanie Macalyane who secretly used a remedy to relieve her pangs of childbirth." An example of Christian "compassion" and intolerance for anything that relieves the human suffering they worship.
If you are tempted to think this hysterical hatred for anything that relieves human suffering or provides human pleasure is limited to history, remember the disaster that, the mostly Christian driven, prohibition of alcohol foisted on this country, or worse, consider the untold suffering the so-called, "war on drugs," wreaks on the innocent today. Whatever their motives, it is not concern with human suffering.
"Torture, despair, agony, and death are the symptoms of "opiophobia," a well-documented medical syndrome fed by fear, superstition, and the war on drugs," begins this article, "No Relief in Sight" from Dr. Alexander DeLuca's WEB page.
"Superstition," is the author's kind word for religion. Here are the stories of real living human beings with chronic intractable pain, suffering continually and unnecessarily, many driven to suicide, by the grace of the Christian driven WOD. This is real horror, not a movie creation.
Virtue is What Virtue Does
While the Christians talk about compassion and, "real love," they promote the very policies that punish those who are actually doing something about human suffering. Katherine Eban Finkelstein, in "Deadly Morals", subtitled, "The DEA is Busting Doctors for Prescribing Drugs - and Patients are Dying in Pain," describes the persecution and prosecution of those truly compassionate doctors who risk their professions and freedom to help those suffering chronic and debilitating pain. Include in that number of persecuted, Dr. Bruce W. Wilkin, a rural physician in Nevada, whose ordeal I noted in my article, "Doctor Faces License Revocation."
All this human suffering and persecution of the innocent is the direct result of that ideology that glorifies suffering and hates human happiness, that psychology that can watch hours of crafted unspeakable horror which they call "uplifting," and "inspiring."
Evil is What Evil Does
While Mel Gibson's film may be shocking to some and bewildering to others, who cannot understand how Christians, who claim the moral high-ground and concern for the welfare of others, can take such delight in such horrid depictions of gratuitous bloody and sadistic cruelty, it should not be surprising at all.
My mother used to say, "if you want to know what people really believe and truly love, don't listen to what they say, watch where they spend their time and money." Those who really believe in human happiness and truly love what is good and wholesome and benevolent will not be wasting their time and money on that glorification of torment and suffering called The Passion of Christ. You know who will.
Or, did it get bounced?
It has only been posted once, so far. Do a search.
(Maybe it is similar to another post.)
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Not exactly philosophy, but there are definitely philosophical questions raised by this article.
"But, I do not like to see suffering. I want people to be happy." the girl in white said.
"You must not be a Christian, then."
You haven't even learned lesson #1 though. That part of love is sacrificing for others. You want false happiness that doesn't exist, an illusion.
Love is a verb that requires pain.
Loving others is painful, you always have to sacrifice whether you're putting your kids through college, feeding the poor, cleaning up after somoeone, putting up with an idiotic internet poster or dying for others because you love them dearly.
You love yourself and want to be happy, though you're not. You hate Christianity and can't even take the pain of leaving your brothers and sisters alone.
Your philo-sophy is not very attractive.
A lover of God.
Wow, that's exactly what the article said you would say.
Thanks for the confirmation that Christians worship pain.
Which God? Allah, Jehovah, Zeus?
Not "A" god, but of God.
Certainly my perception and personal relationship with God is different from yours, though. And I would not presume to push my personal relationship with God off on you.
Sigh..., wishing this to be true does not make it so. Demonstrate the veracity of the above statement from the article by citing; Christian Scripture or other Christian dogma universally held. Please provide links to sources.
Sigh..., wishing this to be true does not make it so. Demonstrate the veracity of the above statement from the article by citing; Christian Scripture or other Christian dogma universally held. Please provide links to sources.
You expect there to be a Scriptural reference that explains the theme of Mel Gibson's film?
The statement is about the theme of the film, not the theme of the Bible. But, if you are asking if that is the theme of the Bible, how about these?
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
2 Cor 12:9 ... Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
While Christians universally use such passages to promote the idea that human suffering is a virtue, I personally do not believe that is the intended meaning of these verses.
Wow, that is a very interesting statement. If it were true, it would mean Christ was not in His right mind:
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Are you sure that's what you meant to say?
I am, thank you.
Do the same.
(You are not far from the truth. Watch.)
Please, to not be reticent. No one is preventing you from presenting the truth.
If you deny that suffering is a virtue and know that, the purpose of Christ is, "that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," (John 10:10) and that, the "living God, ... giveth us richly all things to enjoy," (1 Tim. 6:17) why do you not say so. Why do all these Christians defend the view that suffering is a virtue, then claim the article is wrong, since that is all the article says, that it is what Christians believe?
While I totally reject the Augustinian heresy of the fallen nature of man, even if it were true, your statement would require you to reject either the humanity of Christ (plainly taught in Scripture) or that He loved fallen humanity.
Sullivan's full of crap. The amount of blood depicted in that scene might be a pint or so -- it ain't "masses and masses."
Christianity is not the root of all evil, contrary to the authors opinion. If that were true, atheistic regimes would be paradise by comparison. If you want to see a system of suffering as a prescribed fate look no further than material liberalism: suffering in action. Atheism is the ultimate expression of material liberalism. Talk about suffering, you must believe that this is as good as it gets. What a burden, what a cross to bear...
Hank, you've traded an imaginary reverence for physical suffering for a very real worship of mental and even spiritual suffering. This is as good as it gets and as bad as that may be it's made worse because you have traded slavery to your own Id for slavery to the collective superego. All so you can be rewarded with what ever the collective decides to leave you as payment for your labor and submission to the collective will. And in the end you die...Congratulations on your ability to see this as superior to the Christian belief of and eternal joy.
That this man know nothing about Christianity is obvious. At least not the Christianity I know.
Christianity is not about suffering. Sacrifice, perhaps, but sacrifice is not the same as suffering.
I'm sorry, but that's just the stupidest thing I've seen here in a long time.
The point of the movie is that God's beloved son endured unspeakable pain in order to free mankind from sin and death.
The warped minds you admire don't know the difference between that and "worshipping suffering". That, far from being a key to "joy", I find truly sad.
"Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by his death, and on those in the tombs, bestowing life."--Easter Troparion, Byzantine Rite
The author, presumably based on nothing more than a presupposition of the totality of random, impersonal evolution as the source of all things, gives no accounting for his use of such words as "pathological", and "perversion" in the first place. Without a coherent accounting of such notions his moral judgments and outrage are laughably self-refuting.
... It is certainly no surprise that Christians are opposed to anything that relieves suffering in this world...
A statement that is flatly false on its face. I could go on, but it's not worth it.
The sinful nature doctrine was the invention of Augustine, not found in any of the early church fathers before his sycretistic inclusion of those neo-Platonic and Manichean pagan ideas.
The doctrine cannot be found in Scripture without wholesale corruption of the plain meaning of all those passages which are used to support it. Having dominated the doctrinal teaching of Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, for so many centuries, there is hardly a Christian today who can read the Bible and understand it.
I do not have time to address the passage in Romans 7, which has nothing to do with a sinful nature, and only with the experience of one who has, "sold themselves into slavery to sin," (See John 8:34, Rom. 6:16) by choice.
Nor do I have time to address the great harm the sinful nature heresy does to the doctrines of the nature of sin itelf, the atonement, and salvation.
Since you mentioned the nature of Christ, another doctrine perverted by this heresy, I have addressed that issue directly by including part of a much earlier discussion I had about this question.
I have no intention of convincing you, only of demonstrating, I do not come by My opinions lightly.
(From an early and agreeable online debate.)
I contended that the Bible teaches that Jesus had exactly the same kind of nature that we have, which would mean, if we have a sinful nature, Jesus had a sinful nature, which flatly contradicts Bible teaching.
My opponent made the following remark:
"After all, if He is exactly like you and He lived without sin it would mean you too could live a sinless life had you chosen right?"
The following is my response to that remark:
I did not say He was exactly like you or me. I said his human nature was exactly like all other human nature, because that is exactly what the Bible teaches.
Before I explain how this is true from the Scriptures, however, I want to say something about your contention that if our nature were exactly the same as Jesus' nature, it would mean we could live without sin. This, I believe is true. The Bible says, "all have sinned," but it does not say all are "made to sin," or, "caused to sin," (by their nature or anything else) because, in fact, if something "made" or "caused" someone to do anything, it would not be sin. The Bible always represents sin as something chosen, not caused or the result of something not chosen, like nature.
Christians falsely assume, if human beings did not have a sinful nature, they would not sin, and, furthermore, that they could save themselves. There is no reason to believe that, and the evidence is all to the contrary. Neither Adam or Eve were not born with a sinful nature. They both sinned without benefit of it. Neither Adam or Eve could save themselves, even though they were not born with a sinful nature. They sinned for the same reason and in the same way that every human being sins, they chose to, freely, and that is why they were guilty of it.
The point of Jesus having the very same kind of nature all human beings have and being tempted in exactly the same way all other human beings are is to prove the man could live without sin, but absolutely none will.
Now for the Scriptural proof:
Jesus All Man
Jesus was all man and all God. Any other view is considered heresy.
If His human nature, then, must be exactly the same as any other human being's nature. If it is not, he is not all man.
Calvinists are very close to holding the heresy that says Jesus was not really a man. But the Bible makes it clear that as a man, he had exactly the same nature we have.
Heb. 2:10-18 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
"For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one..." All one what? Why, one nature, of course, as is explained.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." The same what? Why, the same flesh and blood with the same nature, because if it had a different nature, it would not be the same flesh and blood.
"he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. See, he's talking about nature here and plainly states that nature is the nature inherited from the seed of Abraham. Some Christians make much of the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin, and since he had no human father, did not "inherit" the sinful nature. But this produces the peculiar idea that, somehow, the sinful nature is genetically, "sex-linked," which is absurd on the face of it, but denied in any case by the Scripture that specifically states the nature of Jesus was inherited from the "seed of Abraham," a male.
"in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren." That's all things, including their nature, or it is not all things. If it did not include their nature, He would only have made like his brethren in "some" things.
This is exactly what is taught throughout Scripture. For example:
Rom. 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
Now compare this to:
Phil. 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.
Here are two very interesting verses. They say Jesus was made "in the likeness of sinful flesh," and "in the likeness of men." Now you might want to get out of admitting the Bible teaches Jesus had the same kind of "sinful flesh" all other men have by claiming it says Jesus flesh was only "like" sinful flesh, but not really sinful flesh because is says "in the likeness of." If you do that, however, you are also going to have to say Jesus was only "like" a man, but not really a man because it says, "in the likeness of men." But of course you won't do that, because you know Jesus was a man and had exactly the same kind of nature all men have.
(Added note: The expression, "sinful flesh," does not mean that flesh, itself, is sinful, in its nature. If it did, Paul could not have used "love of flesh" as a picture of a man's love for his wife, or Christ's love for the church in Eph. 5:28-29, "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. The words "carnal" and "flesh" refer to the fact that sin is yielding to temptation that comes from the physical desires. They that yield to desires against what they know is right are "carnally minded." Rom 8:7 "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" and, Rom. 8:5 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.")
This is the whole point of Jesus temptation. If he was not tempted in exactly the same way we are, then it was a fake and meaningless. The point of His temptation was to demonstrate that we are guilty and have no excuse for sin, such as a sinful nature that makes us sin, or temptation being "too great" for us to resist which Scripture plainly denies: (1 Cor. 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.)
Heb. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Jas. 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
First, something about the word "lust." The word means "desire" and nothing more. It does not mean, as is commonly supposed, "sinful desire." It is the very same word used in Luke 22:15, "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer," and could have been correctly translated, "... with lust I have lusted to eat this passover with you...." The word used by James and translated "lust" is the very same word translated as "desire" in Luke 22.
With that understanding, we can see James is describing how all men are tempted. It begins with desire, not sinful or evil desire, but perfectly natural God-given desires like the desire for food, or beauty, or comfort. Now these are the source of temptation, but not always, and even when they are, they are not sin in themselves. It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus was tempted.
The God-given natural desires for food, for beauty, for knowledge, and for pleasure were all desires Adam and Eve freely indulged and enjoyed in all the blessings of paradise without sin, nevertheless those same desires became the source of temptation when their object was the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Was there anything "sinful" about the desires for the food, beauty and wisdom the fruit of the tree offered? Of course not. Then how could indulging them be sin? Because indulging them required disobedience. The temptation consisted entirely of this: there was a perfectly natural desire for an object, there was the knowledge that particular object was forbidden, (and, therefore, that it would be wrong to fulfill that desire), and they had the ability to choose. It was temptation because, to not sin they had to choose what they knew was right against what they desired and wanted.
James explains that this is always how temptation works. Nothing has changed. All desires spring from our natural God-given desires. (We only here refer to the natural passions, not "intellectual" desire based on values and goals. In themselves, these can never alone be the source of temptation, that is, if there is no accompanying desire in the "feeling" sense.)
When the object of those perfectly natural God-given desires are those things which one may rightly enjoy, fulfilling them is not sin, and is in fact their purpose. When the object of those same natural desires is for something forbidden, fulfilling the very same desire becomes sin. It is not the desire that makes it sin, but the object, and the fact that it is forbidden. (Sexual desire within marriage and outside of marriage is a typical example. The very same desire fulfilled within marriage is blessed, outside of marriage is sin.)
It is necessary to make this clear if we are to understand that Jesus was tempted in every way exactly the same we are. If there is anything about our nature that makes temptation greater or different than it was before the fall, Jesus' nature must also have had this same difference, else he would not have been tempted, "in all points," and "like as we are." Since all desires spring from our natures, and all temptation is the result of desire, and Jesus was tempted in exactly the same way we are (or the whole thing is only a sham), He had to have the same kind of nature we have.
Finally we must examine this verse:
Rom. 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
I usually refrain from saying this, because it is so painfully obvious, I am embarrassed to have to point it out. But, I think it is needed here.
This passage is frequently used to show that man has a sinful nature based on the idea that death is the result of sin, and since death is the result of Adam's sin, and death has passed on to all men (we are mortal), than sin must have passed on to all men as well, in what is called the "sinful nature."
On the basis of this view, every human death is, supposedly, proof of the sinful nature. (I have actually seen this statement made.) Now, the obvious and absolute refutation of this is the fact that, JESUS DIED.
To die, Jesus, had to have the same kind of nature we have, that is, not sinful, but mortal.
The original has the following remarks added:
Adam and Eve, and all the angels were created sinless, and Adam and Eve, and probably 1/3 of the angels sinned without benefit of a sinful nature.
After the fall, man became "physically" depraved, mortal, and subject to disease and easily inflamed desires in a world also under the curse. If man could not keep from sinning when in perfect health, in paradise, walking daily with God, why do you suppose he would be able to keep from sinning in the imperfect state he now finds himself in? Physical depravity is not sinful depravity. The animals also grow old and die, as even the world itself does, and we do not accuse them for it of having a sinful nature.
Temptation is not sin. After the fall, temptation became much greater than before, and Jesus suffered that same temptation, proving that a man could resist it if he chose to. However, Jesus is the only man who ever did resist it, and the only one that ever will choose to do so, if the Bible is true.
I do not blame any Christian for believing in the sinful nature, it is what they are taught by those they trust. I do blame the teachers.
That seems an odd way to put it. I could understand loving humanity, meaning, wanting to relieve whatever pain and suffering humanity experiences, but to love them "with the pain and suffering," sure sounds like one is in favor of it.
So, please clear it up. What is your position on the WOD, are you for all the suffering it causes the innocent, or opposed to it?
Hardly. My theological background is Reformed and Lutheran, but I have studied all theologies in depth with the exception of the Eastern traditions. (Interestinly, the only "modern" theologian these teachings have any similarity to is Charles Finney, once very popular and successful, but, today mostly repudiated by all mainline denominations.) They are also accused of being Arminian, but Arminius also accepted a great deal of Augustine.
If you mean the Romans 7 passage, I did answer it. I suspect you did not read what I wrote, which, by the way, was "cut and paste" only from my own writing.
I am also hardly a revisionist. Augustine was the revisionist. I described what was taught before his heresies were introduced.
In any case, none of it matters to me, because I reject the whole lot of human bumbling called theology and all organized religions. There is not one that is rationally defendable, and they all admit it.
Not all. Genesis simply states that man has the capacity to know and choose between good and evil.
"The Passion of the Christ's theme is that suffering, not joy, is man's proper fate."
It does not. He came here to teach and some folks gave Him a hard time. He did not teach that suffering was a good thing. He sought and brought joy into the world and in Heaven.