Rules, Rules, Rules
I’ve concluded there are two types of people in this world. There are the goody-two-shoes who like rules and take great pride in creating and obeying them. And there are the other people. The ones who like to rebel. The ones who never saw a rule, standard, or principle they didn’t salivate to defy. They like breaking rules.
I hate rules. Like most people, I decide when I want to follow them. I love that autonomy. Most of us do.
>We’re not going to let anyone or anything tell us what to do or how to do it.
I tend to push against rules because I don’t always see their benefits in the moment. But even if I could, it probably wouldn’t matter. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it.
And if just one rule gets me edgy, what about dozens?
In my faith, it didn’t take long before I got the impression Christianity was filled with rules.
>Jesus I found compelling, but I started to wonder why someone would ever want to be a Christian with all those rules that seemed to go with the territory.
Rules tend to make me think God doesn’t want me to have any fun. Like he is some sour old man yelling at the neighborhood kids, “Keep it down out there or else!” But we all want to have fun; it makes life worth living. If we can’t enjoy it, what’s the point to life?
It’s impossible to keep up with all the rules.
I liked my fun, and rules bring an air of legalism that sap the life and vitality out of anything good. Legalism does that. Figure out which one Christians are making up. Don’t assume they are all in the Bible.
I can’t keep track of all the rules I’ve been told to keep over the years—like no smoking, drinking, cussing, premarital sex, clubbing, or dancing.
But wait, there’s more! If one decides to really get serious about following God, there’s another set of rules for the “truly religious”—like no listening to “secular” music (music that isn’t “Christian”), no watching R-rated movies, no dating, no tattoos, no body piercings.
As far as I can tell, some of these rules are meant to address character issues. They call into question the things that influence you, what you take in, and how it all affects who you are. They also call into question what you choose to do, which is seen as a representation of who you are.
>Determine to discover more about the rules.
So get a Bible and get to work. It’s the only way, as a rule of thumb.
This entry was posted by Jason Berggren on January 9, 2012 at 6:26 am, and is filed under Life Lessons, Unauthorized Blogs. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.
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I’m a big fan of your book, and a big fan of Strongarm and other hardcore and metal Christian bands, I’ve been playing similar tunes for something like 12-14 years. I don’t care for rules in music, but in most other things I like rules and it appears to me that God likes them too. I seek to follow and glorify God as best I can/know. Being a 30 year old man who is responsible for the well being of my wife and daughter, I feel like some of the rules below need to be discussed.
Of the rules you listed, some I feel we really are to “watch” or follow in our lives:
smoking – aside from it being harmful to your body, I don’t recall any direct mention of smoking in the Bible. If we consider our body a temple and pollute it though; is that glorifying God? Probably not; just like eating crappy food (which I’m guilty of and hope to get better about NOT doing).
drinking – Jesus drank. People called John “weird” because he came to them fasting and not drinking. Jesus came eating and drinking and they called him a drunk. According to John, Jesus was even a wine-maker. So he essentially made alcohol for folks to drink. He also speaks against being a drunkard though. Alcohol bad? No. Being a drunk bad? Yes.
cussing – James says “Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be”. Ephesians speaks of “coarse joking” to be “improper for God’s holy people”. And if the outside world views people that call themselves Christians “cussing” then they may think us to be hypocrites; whereupon we become a stumbling stone to them and lead them astray. To me. It’s not needed. It’s just not. So why bother? If it slips, it slips. But to make it as common as the word “the” in your vocabulary is just in poor taste anyway.
premarital sex – Jesus condemned even thinking lustfully about someone, calling that adultery. In Matthew 19; speaking of divorce; Jesus says in verse 4 “He who created them from the begginging made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh”. It seems that God from the beginning with Adam and Eve intended us to be bound to a husband or wife. Some would say “well, Adam had many wives”, and yes, he did… after he left the perfect place that God had designed. This tells me that in a perfect world/situation, that’s what God desires, one man, one woman, and to be together/bound until the end of life (feel good or not; Jesus says very plainly that in the life to come that no one marries or is given in marriage). Paul speaks against fornication in Corinthians 6:16; to me, essentially saying “if you sleep with a prostitute; she’s now your wife”. So if we go with this mindset; everyone we sleep with is married to us. We move on to the next with whatever intentions; but essentially, we’re divorcing the first wife/husband and moving on to the next. So does this mean, if you have pre-marital sex with the woman you intend to legally wed it’s ok? Part of me says yes; but to be with another afterwards is either (A) committing further fornication and/or (B) committing adultery. Hebrews 13:4 says that fornicators and adulterers will be judged by God. (really pay attention to my parting statement here).
clubbing – most folks go to clubs to do what? get drunk and/or hook up. If you’re going without either of those things in mind; and can honestly participate without being tempted into drunkeness/fornication/adultery, then why would it be different than any other situation?
dancing – David reportedly danced naked. As long as it doesn’t cause temptation as shown above I can’t see the problem.
no listening to “secular” music (music that isn’t “Christian”) – if the music is glorifying sex, hatred, death, or drugs the question to me would be; would God want me listening to this?
no watching R-rated movies – Same rules for music goes for movies; generally most “R” rated movies these days are full of at least one of the following (1) extremely rough language; which I don’t need to hear, and certainly don’t want my children to hear; (2) sex/nudity; how would God feel about me seeing someone else naked other than my spouse? Would I want my children to see this? Would it cause temptation or lust in my heart, thus adultery according to Jesus? I feel pretty good about answering “no” to all of these things; (3) these days it seems like most movies, especially those aimed at adults; tend to be depressing, or really wallow in the muck and mire of the world, so again, do I need more of that in my life? No. Do I know those things exist? Yes, but do I need to spend 2 hours of my life with these situations in my face. No, not really
Much like a lot of things though, we can’t let the “R” Rating be an automatic “sin” rating. The Matrix is rated R, but has no real bad language to speak of; it’s violent but not gory or glorifying death (like the new breed of torture porn flicks); and has no nudity or sexual situations (until the 2 nd movie, but even then it’s handled somewhat tastefully other than Neo and Trinity not being married. Also, National Lampoons European Vacation is rated PG. I wouldn’t want anyone under 18 watching that personally. It’s chock full of sex, nudity, and other stuff that doesn’t belong in a PG movie (checking again, apparently it’s now PG-13, but I remembered it being a PG movie; my point still stands though).
No dating – can you date without it leading to sex outside of marriage? If so, carry on.
no tattoos – In Leviticus; it does mention not making ‘markings’ on the body, which some will say was actually God telling Israel not to follow the practices of the local pagan/heathen folks. However, aside from Paul’s mention of the body being a temple, I’m not sure of the “right-ness” of tattoos. Will they damn you to hell? Probably not. Does God find them glorifying? No clue. The same passage that speaks of the “make no markings” rule also speaks of not breeding two types of cows or mixing types of seed into one pasture…So, I don’t know. I don’t have them because they’re expensive and I feel I can use my money more wisely. Would God rather me have a $300 tattoo or use $300 to help feed or clothe the poor?
no body piercings – I believe in Ezekiel; God is describing Israel as a beautiful woman that he adorned and “put a ring in “her” nose”. So, it appears that a piercing can be a beautiful thing to God.
The good news is this; John 5:24 says that “Truly, truly, I say to you; he who hears My word, and believes Him (the Father) who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come to judgment, but has passed out of death into life”.
I followed blindly calling myself a Christian and yet taking part in breaking these rules far more than I’d care to admit. And I can say, at least of myself, the reason I did these things while calling myself a Christian comes down to one thing; I was a liar and the truth was not in me. I was ignorant of what the Bible actually said. I lived for myself, and somehow pardoned my own wrongs, because after all, I’m a Christian, right? We were spreading the truth with hard music, all the while my bandmates and I all lived as wrong as any condemned sinner.
I can call myself a Marine, but until I join the Corps. and know its rules, it’s leadership, and the life that it entails, I’m lying to myself and everyone else around me, and being a stumbling block to those who see the life I talk about yet do not lead.
Through pain, through joy, through tears, through rejoicing God truly revealed himself to me long after I claimed that He had. I may have said the prayer on the altar in the early 90’s, but I never opened the door to Jesus until far later in life. I regret every day that I didn’t answer the door sooner, but I rejoice in knowing now that the door is open. Now, I don’t find myself so much following rules, but seeking to please God. I feel like abstaining from these things, that do seem to be condemned, is the very least I can do for all that God has done and is doing in my life. It’s not a ‘have-to’ situation, it’s become a ‘want-to’. I still fall, I still struggle, and I still fail, I am not perfect, nor can I be. But I can say this with an honest heart; the only time I feel myself struggling or falling is when I start pulling away from God and His Spirit and His will. When I start looking more towards ‘me’ instead of “Him”, I believe He starts looking away as well. Essentially, to me, saying “alright, have it your way and see how it works out”.
Anyway, that was a long-winded rant/preaching/whatever; sorry about that, but God bless anyway, and love the book…though mine is currently on loan to someone and don’t know if I expect to see it back.
Thank for stopping by! Good thoughts. And you can be sure I will NEVER be dancing naked.