Neutering the Devil
In recent years a type of "pseudo cigarette" that utilizes water vapor instead of smoke has gained popularity. Users say that it gives all of the satisfaction of a real smoke with none of the harmful effects associated with cigarette smoking. Now, it would probably be impractical to think of the major tobacco companies marketing such a product in lieu of traditional cigs and other tobacco products as it would more than likely not be cost effective and would no doubt ruin the industry, but lets say for the sake of argument,it was possible. Let's say companies like Phillip Morris marketed a faux smoke and still raked in their profits. Let's say it replaced the cigarette, cigar and everything else and was virtually indistinguishable from the "real thing". Would smoking still be a sin? What if a "fake" and harmless cocaine could be manufactured and commercially marketed, that could give users the same buzz without the addiction and impairing side effects? Pseudo alcohol that tasted like the real thing, gave you a high that was just as good, but was completely safe? Would these things still be wrong? What if virtual reality technology made it possible for a married couple who had become sexually bored with each other allow them to "have an affair with their own spouse?" The technology would enable them to experience sex with , say, the celebrity of their dreams, but in reality, they were making love to each other, would it still be adultery? I'm aware of the NT verses about "lust of the heart", but that is actual desire for ANOTHER person, this would be for couples who just want stimulation without the sin, it isn't that they really desire an adulterous relationship, after all, there are couples who enjoy role playing games all the time, and not too many people bat an eye about that. This would be like a role playing game to another level.
I'm sure meta ethicists would have a field day with this, but if you look at the OT laws, that is exactly what happened, despite what apologetic rhetoric about "law" vs "grace". Today, many Christians enjoy pork and shellfish with no shame because government meat inspection has reduced the health risks. According to the Book of Acts, Peter's vision of slaying and eating animals was metaphoric about accepting Gentiles, who ate such things, yet today, there are some denominations of Christianity that observe OT law and thus, abstain from forbidden foods, so it's still a religious debate over semantics. The "law vs. grace" argument becomes subjective, much like every other theistic argument.
Now, I'm sure even if such things became possible, such sins as murder, theft and the like would still exist, but if the above was possible, could you not envision Christians shamelessly indulging in such activities and still using the "law vs. grace" argument?
"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."