Over blog-side (yeah, I guess these are both blogs, but this one is more theological), I recently wrote a post about how "rules" function for an against religious communities in America. This was partly in response to a more specific conversation with a young person about how they had a "falling out" with church over their perception of what church required or expected of them. They weren't sure if they "believed in Christianity anymore." I asked them to imagine a conversation about Christianity that would go something like this:
Inquirer: So, what do you Christians believe? What's your message to the world?
Christian: We believe that "God was in Jesus of Nazareth, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them."
Inquirer: So, do you think Buddhists are going to hell?
Christian: ... I'm sorry, what do Buddhists and hell have to do with what I just told you?
Inq: Well, I just assumed that naturally... Nevermind. Do you believe in the Genesis account of creation?
Xian: ... Um. Hate to be stubborn, but... what does that have to do with it?
Inq: So, do you think its okay to drink alcohol?
Xian: Alcohol?! Well, I guess I can tell you that Jesus made wine, but I don't understand why you aren't asking more questions about God reconciling the world to himself in Jesus.
Inq: Now we're getting somewhere! See, I'm just sick and tired of all the rules and I wish people would mind their own business! Do you think homosexuality is okay? Do I have to go to church? Do you think God would be mad if I had sex with this girl I picked up at a bar? If I smoke pot? If I look at porn?
Xian: Can you just explain how you think any of that connects with what I just told you is the basic Christian belief and message? What would it mean to you if God was in Jesus reconciling the world to himself? Why do you think God, Jesus or I should have something to say about all of those things, unless you already share some of our more basic assumptions? Even if the Bible or most Christians did have something to say about all of that, in all seriousness they are 3rd or 4th tier issues; kind of universal, rather than particular to Christianity.
If you want to talk about them, then lets talk about what you think and what I think and what our society or culture thinks, but let's not get confused and think that they belong on the front end of a conversation about God and Jesus until we've established something about who God and Jesus are.
If I have to say something about Christian ethics, then I think Christian ethics is meaningless apart from a community that adheres to the basic belief and message about Jesus that I stated.
I think Jesus shows us that God is against people hurting or disrespecting each other and themselves, but that's hardly unique to Christians.
I think Jesus is for forgiving people when they do hurt or disrespect, but Jesus is also for people changing, so that they hurt and disrespect less.
I think humans are relational individuals and need the nurture of communities to understand how to become people who are forgiving as well as less-harmful to themselves and others, so people "minding their own business" is a good idea, but humans can't have the more essential thing (a nurturing community) without compromising that good idea a lot.
I think it's probably helpful if various communities of people have some of the same basic standards about what is nurturing and hurtful or disrespectful so they can live together in peace.
I think it makes sense for Christians to get those standards from the same book that tells us that "God was in Jesus, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them," recognizing that the ethics of the book and of Christians have changed somewhat according to cultural and historical context.
I think that to have a community, you have to have some compromises, so nobody gets everything they want, and things get complicated.
Obviously, at this point we're already at least 3 big steps removed from the conviction that God doesn't want people to hurt each other. But, if you want to make a big issue of Christian ethics, I want to ask you if there is any community of people that you are willing to belong to (such that you would be willing to compromise what you want, for the standards and well-being of the community)? If not, then I would suggest that Christianity isn't really your problem. You don't actually seem very interested in it and maybe that's our fault for emphasizing the wrong things. Regardless, you will probably have a hard time with any employer you ever work for, any organization to which you belong, and maybe having a family. Your problem isn't Christianity, it's the basic communal aspect of human life. Becoming a mature human-being does involve "learning to live between (some set of) the lines." Christians (as with most people) like to think that their lines are pretty decent and offer reasonable variance, while the colors are brilliant.