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Lead us not in Temptation

The Super Bowl these days is all about one thing, the commercials and every advertiser wants to make sure their new million dollar ad makes it on the air for this commercial event. This is after all the one time of year when people actually want to watch the commercials.

Of course, it has become the job of the so called “moral majority” to police America at this critical time of Super Commercial Bowl. One of the ads that Fundamental Christians were against this year didn’t actually make it on the air for Super Bowl (except in Texas). This ad didn’t have any half naked women,¬† no drugs, not even violence. It was a commercial for the dating website, AshleyMadison.com, watch:

What? The site is promoting cheating? In comes the self-righteous indignation. To me, this issue isn’t about cheating or AshleyMadison at all. This issue speaks to a deeper issue. An issue which has been propagated so much in Christianity that often time, this issue continues to leave¬† a cloud in secular society as well. The issue is as the Reverend Rick Warren put it a few weeks back, “Lead us not in Temptation.”

AshleyMadison is a website for people looking for affairs and having an affair is wrong. But if a couple is in love (as a married couple should be) than neither party would want to have an affair. AshleyMadison isn’t forcing people to have affairs. So why are so many people worried about this website? What does this issue have to do with Christianity as a whole? Christians (most, not all of course) are taught that sin is evil and if they sin they will go to Hell. The Christians (most, not all) are often taught that one must avoid sin and guard themselves against temptation. The problem with this is that it teaches people that instead of having internal discipline so that vices have no hold over them and hence don’t tempt them, they are taught that they need to control the external world to block out all that might tempt them. This means censorship or imposing some form of restrictions on other people rather than self-restriction through self-discipline.

I think the point is that if someone has personal discipline and takes personal responsibility for themselves, then temptation wouldn’t bother them because they know they wouldn’t be tempted. I don’t drink alcohol, so I am never tempted by alcohol. I can be around any number of drinkers and not have to worry. I trust my wife and have a happy marriage, so I don’t have to worry about what AshleyMadison is doing. The only reason why someone should be worried about these things is if they haven’t developed that personal discipline. This is one of the many differences between Buddhism and Christianity.

There is an old Buddhist story that I will try to paraphrase in my own way to help me illustrate my point (if you are interested in the un-Staks-ified version of the story, it is in the book, “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.” There were two new monks walking down a road. As they walked they came across a young woman who was walking the same road, but was stopped due to a large puddle blocking the road. The one monk (I’ll call him Bob the Buddhist) walked up to the young woman and offered to carry her across the puddle. She agreed and he carried her across and she went on her way. Then the other monk (I’ll call him Chris the Christian) waded through the puddle. The two monks then continued their journey. About 2 hours later, Chris turned to Bob and said, “Why did you do that? You know we are not supposed to touch women and there you were with a woman in your arms!” Bob cracked a smile at Chris and said, “I put the woman down, but you are still carrying her.”

Bob wasn’t tempted by the young woman and so it wasn’t a problem for him. Chris on the other hand was very bothered by it even though he didn’t touch the young woman. Chris was mad that Bob did. Many Christians are mad at AshleyMadison, but to me, I see the advertising and couldn’t care less about it. What I care about is what this ad tells me about others, particularly those who are so opposed to it.

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