In a 2001 lecture on Numbers 21, Dennis Prager fields a question from a Christian woman who said she was raised to regard impure thoughts as destructive to her soul.
Dennis: “When Christianity did away with Jewish law, thoughts became more sinful. Because Judaism makes so many behaviors sinful, it pretty much left the mind alone. When Christianity stopped making acts sinful, something had to be made sinful or the world would become chaotic, so thoughts became sinful.”
“When I moderated Religion on the Line, I started feeling sorry for many Christians. This is funny because I grew up envying Christians. I thought Christians had it great. They could eat anything they want. They can do anything they want on the Sabbath. And it’s all OK with their religion. What a deal!
“Then, after years of talking to Christian clergy and learning how much they walk around thinking thoughts are sinful, I thought, I’m lucky. If I thought thoughts were sinful, I’d be in hell. There’d be no room for anyone else. I’d just hog up the place.
“My religion tells me I can’t eat shrimp, etc, but little about what I must think or feel.
“I’d ask the clergy about their religion’s attitude to lust. The Christian clergy would say it is sinful. The rabbi, even the Orthodox rabbis, would say it is not a big deal. It depends on what you do with it. The rabbi would look at me as thought, this is the topic? How about something important?”