Wednesday 28 December 2011

Deliberate self-mutilation is an evil


If someone was to spray-paint Durham Cathedral with graffiti, or slash all the best paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, or blast a Vuvuzela during the climax of a great operatic performance - we would (or, at least ought to) recognize these as evil acts in their varying degrees; as destructive the Good.

We should not be distracted because deliberately wrecking Great Art, deliberately marring beauty, is somehow 'not as bad' as torturing or killing - wrecking Great Art is bad: that is the point. 


The same applies to the human face and body - deliberately to mutilate the human face and body is bad, is destructive of Good, is evil.

It is an act of desecration - a vandalism of sanctity.

And this is an objective fact - not a matter of opinion.


(As we all covertly recognize: our very viscera inform us of the fact.)

Even worse when the mutilation is permanent, scarring, cannot be undone.

Even worse when the mutilation is proudly advertized - so that others may be exposed to the act of evil; challenged to accept it, encouraged to emulate it.


Even worse when mutilation is normalized - brought into desirable situations in art, TV, movies, drama, news - into cultural institutions; into situations where the mutilation is accepted - perhaps after a struggle, or in face of ignorant hostility and prejudice - or simply made part of the background, assimilated unconsciously.

This is propaganda for evil - and far worse than oneself sinning (sin is inevitable in fallen Men; but the propagation - by favorable association, advertisement, by normalization - of sin is a voluntary act of  strategic evil).


Evil cannot be undone, but it can be repented.

However, only at the cost of Pride.

Advertizing, normalizing, boasting of sin is a highly regarded activity in the modern world - by contrast it is regarded as evil to point-out sin, to reject sin, to say that a sin is bad and should elicit shame rather than admiration - because to do so is hurtful - humiliating, even.

But repenting evil hurts, it ought to hurt - it reduces one's self-esteem and status among others to say 'I made a mistake, I did a bad thing'.

But that is what ought to be done.



Wm Jas said...

What do you make of the fact that in Old Testament times the ritual mutilation of the human body was commanded by God?

Bruce Charlton said...

@WMJas - I follow St Paul in assuming that this was superseded by the new covenant; as to why it was imposed in the first place I don't know.

From anthropology I know that mutilations are usually practiced as part of an initiation into an in-group - they are not optional nor individual, more like a form of ritual torture.

Proph said...

@Wm Jas--

Deliberate self-mutilation is a NATURAL evil.

Like all natural evils, the prohibition on it must give way to divine commandment.