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Oshkosh, Wisconsin is a Mecca for Adventist Pathfinders. I need to break that down for you. Pathfinders is the Adventist Christian version of the Girls and Boy Scouts mixed into one, and you get all kinds of badges for swimming, tying knots, and SWEARING YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO THE ALMIGHTY CHRIST.

At this Christian moshpit, I heard a story about a women who had come to Jesus after living near Adventists her whole life, but engaging in a life full of debauchery and revelry, which included drinking, smoking, and having the premarital baby sugar slip-and-slide. And I’ve heard more than one pastor take this approach.

The antagonist in the stories always seems to be a person of ill repute, and what constitutes “ill repute” really seems to encompass these and other pastimes people might have. But a problem with the church is the routine failure to distinguish between something that is bad for you and something that is morally wrong.

Failure to Distinguish

Now, I don’t really go in for the whole “sin” word, because as far as I’m concerned, that’s a made-up thing. But we can loosely translate the word sin here to “morally wrong.” Christians think that things that are sins are morally wrong, but they also, unfortunately, teach that things that are bad for you are morally wrong. And this makes it more difficult for people to even identify what the truth is.

Here’s an example: There’s nothing morally wrong with having an orgy. Shocker, I know, but it’s true. You have a room full of people who are all deciding to participate in an activity, consent is requested and received at multiple points throughout, and if it is not, the activity is stopped. That’s fine.

Another would be smoking. There’s nothing morally wrong with smoking (unless you’re pregnant). It has been quite successfully linked to varying types of cancer and you almost surely will suffer as a cause of that activity, but that’s not what we call morally wrong.

This inability to distinguish between the two makes it so someone doesn’t know what the truth is. And that’s dangerous. In this day and age, we need people who can objectively tell the difference between something that legitimately constitutes an unfair or unjust harm to others, and just something that is a choice a human can make.

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