Guard God on Duty
The Puritans believed that God was vengeful and cruel, punishing any and all who misstepped or in any way became troublesome with the mighty wrath he bore. They viewed the punishment could be very harsh, with the failure of whole crops, or on a smaller scale by creating deformed or retarded children. No sin was unpunished.
It doesn't matter than this all took place many years after today's Western religeons say that Jesus was hanged on the cross to forgive all of Man's sins, past, present, and future, so long as the person performing such sins recognized that what they had done was wrong and promised him or herself that it wouldn't be done again.
So God, just two hundred years ago, went from mean, spiteful, and filled with contempt, reversed his stand on humankind, and became loving, caring, and nurturing.
There seems to be a common thread between today's religeons, and yesterday's religeons. Going back to the days of Myth, there were many Gods. They shared the responsibilities; some hot-headed and full of anger, while others took care of fertility, helped poets write words of beauty, brought new lovers together, and so on. Sacraments, or sacrifices, were made to the iresome gods in the hopes of bribing it not to cause harm to come to crops or ways of life, or whatever.
And today, many still make sacraments to the One God, who is believed by many to be all-seeing, all-knowing, etc.
On Ash Wednesday, people wear ash on their foreheads, basically just telling everyone else who sees them that they believe in God. If you believe in God, why do you have to prove it to someone else? And why take a reprieve from some of your favorite activities during lent? If you don't want to do something, then simply stop doing it. God doesn't expect you to obey any timeline. Your sins were already forgiven, remember?
Well, at least we're not sacrificing animals or even other people for the gods anymore. I'd hate to think how many virgins were wasted on silliness. ;) Can you imagine today's world if we still sacrificed virgins? Girls would be running around trying to lose their virginity at too young an age.