Case in point. I listened to This American Life's the 10 commandments today while driving to work. One of the segments was on the fundamentalist Christian concept of managing one's thought life.
I thought it odd that anyone would spend their time worrying about what they think. But some fundies do. There is a whole array of material aimed at closing the young male mind to any impure thoughts. They treat any impure thought as a sin.
Commandment Seven. You Shall Not Commit Adultery.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says that looking lustfully at a woman is like committing adultery in your heart. Contributor David Dickerson was raised as an evangelical Christian, and for many years tried not to have a single lustful thought. (9 minutes)
Some ask why God should care about thoughts and actions that affect no one else. The truth is that there are few thoughts or actions that do not affect others, either immediately or in some future circumstance. God is more interested in what we do with the thoughts that pop into our minds than in the thoughts themselves. We have not sinned when we are tempted by an impure thought that flashes into mind, but we are responsible, and do sin, if we harbor and linger on the evil thought. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can quickly discern each thought that tempts us, dispel it, and consciously change our thoughts towards what is pure. With His help even our thought life can be holy.The thoughts the rattle around in my head affect very few people. It is only when I take action on a thought that I affect others. I don't and cannot live a life burned by the random craziness that exists between the lucid focused thoughts. For instance, I am listening to The Truth is Marching In by Albert Ayler while I write this post. It is a repetitive live jazz recording that I find amazing. My random crazy thoughts range from thinking about using Ayler's music as mood music on my next date night with the wife to wishing I could play the sax (with all the musician sex god fantasies which that entails). None of these thoughts, or the thousands of others which crowd my mind each day, have any meaning unless I act on them. Guarding against them is a complete waste of time. Feeling guilty over one's thought life is pointless.
I practice some measure of self control when it comes to my professional life. The constant refrain "concentrate" insures that about a third of each minute is focused on the task at hand. It is the best I can do.