Calling Ideas Moronic?

I recall somewhere in the Bible that Jesus tells us to not call people fools or something like that. What about ideas when talking to people about facts? Why is this sinful? What does it fall under?

I was talking to my mother about World War II history, and I told her that the Japaneses’ last resort attack (which was charging with swords) was totally moronic because they just got mowed down.

This obviously isn’t uncharitable because it isn’t directed at any person. Rather, it’s directed at an idea. I didn’t intend to sin, so I would suppose it’s venial at most. This is such a ridiculously unimportant tidbit from my day that I suppose it’s not a sin at all. :shrug:

I don’t see how one can call an idea that people actually hold moronic without implying that those who hold the idea are morons. The word moron was once used to describe those with an IQ between 50 and 71 and is now generally considered an insult.

I think it prudent to also consider whether the use of a certain phrase will be productive. If you describe an idea someone has presented as moronic, they are not likely to be open to hearing further what you have to say.

While the last resort attack of the Japanese in a battle may be a fact, your pronouncement of it being “moronic” is not a fact. So, if you want to argue facts, argue facts. Discuss reasons why the attack could be rationally foreseen as a failure and investigate the cultural reasons the Japanese went forward with it anyway. You might learn something.

You could certainly benefit from a course in rhetoric or debate, how to craft arguments that do not rely on calling people or things names. A course on how to substantiate your arguments with facts rather than opinions and logical fallacies.

It isn’t “obvious” at all. Certain words have certain connotations and they can trigger emotion, and yes can be uncharitable in their use whether directed a ideas or people. After all, it is people who have ideas. Ideas do not possess themselves.

You’ve asked “why” something is sinful but haven’t given any evidence that it actually is sinful. So, why do you think it is sinful?

You’re thinking of Matthew 5:22.

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

It was a move of desperation. Both sides heard horror stories about each other during the war, and for some, death was preferable to capture or surrender.

You had to be there to understand it.

You’re making progress, in that you’re recognizing that some things are so minor and unimportant that you don’t need to stress them…namely, 70 year old military tactics.

In Galatians chapter 3 Paul refers to the Galatians as foolish.:wink:

Proverbs 26:4 tells us not to argue with fools because people might not be able to tell which one is which…but 26:5 tells us to correct a fool lest they go on being one. Kind of confusing:D

So, since your comment was not directed toward a specific person who could hear you, you did not sin. However, if you continue using this phrase you are very likely to sin by using it. It isn’t effective in a debate or discussion to insult one’s opponent’s intelligence. It is also unkind.

And yet Matthew 23:17
Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?

I just pray, OP, that you are not obsessed with this question and being scrupulous. I am not calling you that because I don’t even know you. It is just something to watch out for. Be at all peace.

There was also the fact that the Japanese highly values their honor, and returning from war was a disgrace.

Right. It’s only “moronic” if you think the goal is to win the battle. If you get to the point where you’re making a suicidal charge, you’ve recognized the battle is already lost. The new goal is dying bravely and with honor. Look up the Japanese concept of bushido.

If you accept that cultural framework and warrior ethic, then the banzai charge isn’t moronic at all.


It’s hard to drive a distinction here, isn’t it? In both cases, the Greek doesn’t use a noun, but an adjective (making “foolish” perhaps a better translation), but it’s the same word. In 5:22, it’s singular (more), and in 23:17, it’s plural (moroi).

It could be that 23:17 is referring to the scribes and Pharisees’ speech, rather to the people themselves. In that case, the distinction could be between calling someone foolish and calling their actions foolish. I don’t know Greek anywhere near well enough to say if this is plausible.

It seems to me that Matthew 5:22 may not be so much about the specific words used but about the fact that if we have contempt for our neighbors and treat them poorly, we are on the same path to damnation as the murderer. I don’t know that Jesus literally meant that calling someone a name is literally as bad as killung someone, but I take it as a warning that if I harbor I’ll will toward someone, I am not where I need to be spiritually.

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