40 Harmful Effects of Christianity – #23

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” Exodus 20:4

This post is the twenty-third in a series that addresses a list of “40 Harmful Effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #23: The destruction of great works of art considered to be pornographic/blasphemous, and the persecution of the artists.

As is the case with the previous “harmful effect” addressed in this series, this particular harmful effect is not limited to Christianity. History is replete with notable examples of the destruction of art by fascist (e.g., Nazis), communist, and Muslim groups. Certainly, communists wouldn’t destroy art because it was “blasphemous” given that communists are inherently atheistic. However, communist China has outlawed what it deems to be pornography since 1945. So, even by narrowing down the destruction of art to reasons of pornography and blasphemy, the atheist author(s) of this list can’t limit those destroying art for any particular reason related to Christianity. Once again, he has merely pointed out a tendency of humanity that is not unique to Christianity and would, in all likelihood, exist without it.

Furthermore, his claim is feeble by its very nature. Beauty, it is often said, “is in the eye of the beholder.” What is a “great” work of art in the opinion of one may be terribly lacking in the eye of another. At best, the author can lament “the destruction of works of art that some people think is great yet is not esteemed by others.  More succinctly it’s, “Somebody else did something I don’t like to something that I did.”  To this harmful effect, the Christian critic can curtly respond, “boo-hoo.”

Ultimately, Christians can, along with all others, recognize that aesthetic judgments about art are entirely subjective. However, the pinnacle of moral judgment is grounded in the nature of God.  There are things, such as blasphemy, that God has expressly forbidden. The destruction of blasphemous and pornographic works of art is a God-honoring action, despite the objections of those who don’t fear the Lord. At the same time, the art produced by Christians can be aesthetically pleasing, even to those outside of the faith, while objectively respectful to God’s moral demands.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #24: Slavery condoned by religious texts.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant