You were told â€˜do not killâ€™ and that if you do kill you will answer for it before the court. But I say anyone who is angry with another person will answer for it before the court. ... You were told â€˜do not commit adulteryâ€™ but I say that if you look at a person lustfully, you have already committed adultery with them in your heart. (Matthew 5: 21-22, 27-28) Jesus is not setting forth impossibly high standards but rather he is saying that pride, anger, covetousness and lust are the origins of lies, theft, murder and adultery. The fundamental insight taught by Jesus Christ is that an interior discipline of thoughts and emotions, or self-control, is the only way to avoid thinking bad thoughts, speaking bad words and doing bad things.
Man is fallen, thus his soul is a mixture of irrational and rational forces and until the modern era, the Church provided a constant reminder to ordinary people of their need to examine their conscience every day, to develop self-awareness and self-control and to reflect deeply on their way of life.
Self-awareness is not the same thing as introspection. Whereas introspection merely involves getting in touch with how "me, myself, and I" feel, self-awareness involves considering how through my thoughts, emotions, attitudes, words, and actions I interact with and impact--for better or for worse--- the world and those around me. Self-awareness is attentiveness to my way of impacting others while introspection is the proverbial "bull in the china shop," the focus upon "self" that leads us to trample on others.
The self-aware person knows that what one thinks becomes what one says and does, therefore the self-aware person does not accept the modern fallacy that there is a private world of introspection and a public world of actions. By extension, the self-aware person refuses to accept the modern notion that something is good so long as it feels good, gets what one desires, and ostensibly does no harm to others. Only those who lack self-awareness and self-discipline would consider such dangerous nonsense as true, and it is precisely this sort of person who is most responsible for ideating and propagating modern ideologies:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Col. 2:8, King James Bible
Increasingly the minds of millions of Westerners are being taken captive and corrupted through modern ideologies (philosophies) such as rationalism, positivism, materialism, immanentism, idealism, determinism, relativism, and scientistic evolutionism. All of these ideologies are Godless and thus along with Buddha, reject the human soul created in the image of God the Father. Six centuries before Jesus Christ, the Buddha already knew that if God does not exist then the human self cannot logically exist either.
Forgetfulness of and nonbelief in oneâ€™s own soul is the logical assumption if God the Father does not exist. This is nihilism: spiritual, intellectual and moral suicide. It is the spiritual apathy, the emptiness that lands indivduals and entire societies on the Highway to Hell, for without God there is nothing out there to give meaning and purpose to life, so why should anyone be concerned by anything, no matter how wicked and perverse?
The spiritually empty say "so what" to terrorist training camps in the United States. They see nothing wrong with homosexuality and incest because nothing matters any longer.
Our spiritually empty culture implies that lack of self-awareness and self-discipline liberate us from our conscience and all guilt so that we may freely indulge sin itself, for vanity and indulgence are the way to happiness---more food, more drugs, more gossip, more mind-numbing entertainment, more free things, more 'rights,' more parties, more and bigger houses and bigger churches, more ear-splitting music, more electronics and other things, more sex combined with personal aggression---will to power-- is the way to happiness. This is the soul-destroying message hitting us day in and day out and it is an utterly futile message, for spiritual emptiness can only be alleviated by heavenly manna, not by the stones of this world.
The good news is that this spiritually empty culture does not have to run our lives. We can choose to come out of it, to not allow it to sully our conscience and deaden our souls. And having come out of it we can help other people to overcome their own spiritual apathy.
Additional Resource: Spiritual Apathy: The Forgotten Sin, by Abbot Christopher Jamison, www.thinkingfaith.org