Rule Books

I am not a rule follower by nature.  There are those who would see this as a character flaw that needs correction.  I on the other hand have always viewed this particular trait as a way to challenge the status quo.   After all Jesus wasn’t much of a rule follower himself.  He spoke with a Samaritan woman, breaking two laws – 1) talking to a woman in public and 2) associating with a Samaritan.  He broke the Sabbath rules when he cured a man with withered hands, a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years, and a man who had been ill for 38 years.  Just read the gospel stories, Jesus seemed to have a loose and flexible arrangement with the Old Testament laws.

What drives our desire to turn Scripture into a rule book?  Turning the Bible into a rule book only gives us the illusion that leading a good Christian life is a simple undertaking and that the Christian world exits in a black and white universe.  Quite frankly I don’t know why God didn’t hand out a clear-cut rule book.  The truth is that Scripture at its best helps us to function in the grey.

From what I can tell the major problem with the grey is that it leaves very little room for “I am right and you are wrong.”  If anything Scripture calls us to unity regardless of our differences.  This isn’t always easy or simple.  Many in the Christian community have been taught that difference equals sin.  When someone has a different political or social position than us the temptation is to label the other as a sinner.  Maybe it is time to let difference just be difference even when that difference seems to go against our particular understanding of Scripture.



Filed under Christian, diversity, political, political debate, politics

4 responses to “Rule Books

  1. Hrm… seems to be a theme in blog articles these days… I wrote something up just yesterday along these lines…

  2. GlennR

    while there are some people that are pathologically reactive to rules, I don’t think that Jesus was such a person. further, i doubt that it would be at all correct to say that Jesus is unconcerned for obedience.

    one problem is that the common metaphor of black/ white/ grey is really distracting,

    another problem is to think of rules as order rather than as as kind of ordering.

    life is complex and is is full of rulings, we have different needs in relation to those rulings. sometimes our need is for more clarity on particular rules, sometimes, we need more flexibility. sometimes a ruling needs to be made, sometime a ruling needs to be thrown out. there is no rule for all that . . .but loving the Lord your God with all your heart/ soul/ mind and loving your neighbor as yourself.

    btw, any blogger that has a login for comments appreciates at least some rules.

    • Glenn

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      • GlennR

        So, pressing on. we all live with rules, lots of them. and though they can be frustrating and even tragic, mostly we live our lives in submission to the rules. the trouble isn’t the presence of the rules, the trouble is the wrong rules, in the wrong place, at the wrong time . . . the trouble is blind obedience to whatever rule/ authority presents itself. two things:

        1) I doubt that the antidote to blind obedience is acting as if there is never any clarity.

        2) I suspect that your claim that you are “not a rule follower” has little grounding . . . rather something like:

        a) you don’t like being confined by other peoples’ arbitrary rules

        b) you have a high capacity for flexibility . . .

        but one thing i would hope that you understand that such flexibility is not an evidence of moral superiority (despite Fowler), but is related to education, privilege, power, wealth . . .

        There’s an important message you are working on here. But it is way more complex than black/ white/ grey . . . or following/ not following.

        It does include how people treat the Bible and while the Bible is not a rule book, it does contain rules for faith and life. And I think the Bible gives its own rules for how it should be treated. For instance, there’s a set of rules for handling disputes about rules that is keystone for me.

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