I'm reading a remarkable book by Fyodor Dostoevsky called The Idiot, and it takes place in late 1800s Russia. It contains a couple of references to a secret Christian sect called the Skoptzy, so I decided to do a little research to learn more about them.
To quote the Wikipedia entry:
They believed that after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies forming testicles and breasts. Thus, the removal of these sexual organs restored the Skoptsy to the pristine state before the Original Sin.So they'd castrate themselves, either partially or wham-bam-thank-ya-ma'am, in order to be closer to God. And the sect actually gained in popularity, especially with influential members of socitey! Can you imagine how good the recruiters must have been? Or how crude Russian medicine must have been in the 1800s? I wouldn't trust someone from those days to remove a wart, let alone....
Throughout the years, there have been countless other religions or cults that have persuaded followers to do things that just seem crazy to most of us. Whether it's drinking poisonous Kool Aid, self-administering lethal cocktails in your brand-new Nikes while waiting to hop aboard the next comet, or flailing yourself every now and then with a discipline whip, there seems no limit to what some people will do in the name of God.
I don't know -- it's just hard for me to understand. But as insane as these people seem to me, I will give them one thing: they've got balls. Well, except for the Skoptzy.