Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rules

I just spent some time perusing some very conservative blogsites. I'm realizing I don't like rules. Perhaps, because if rules are out there, I feel totally obligated to follow them and not fail (hence the nightly recurring dreams of not living up to teacher's expecatations in high school.... Heather, you were in last night's - got to visit your family.....) OR, the other available option in my personal life is to somehow claim the rule is not worth following and personally make issue as to why that is the case. Of course, that second option is not at all appropriate. It is its own form of judging - and there you can go round and round - judging the person you think is judging you because they make rules in their life that you don't feel are necessary to follow.

So, is it bad to set up rules? No - I think some people need them. In fact, we didn't even kiss before we got married because that was something John felt needed to be a limit. But, should it be a limit for every engaged couple? Oh, no.... I could give several arguements against that belief. But, I'm glad we stuck to the rules we set, because they were necessary in John's life. And, I bet if we were all truly honest with ourselves - we would all be better off with self-imposed limits set in each of our lives, areas we knew we are weak in and/or need to avoid. However, I think Pastor Brett had some great words Sunday about the innacurate impression we can portray to non-believers if we live a life in which it appears that the rules we are following are more important than the relationship we have with Our Savior.

Despite the "razzing flack" I got in the Comments a couple of posts ago, I feel the need to re-iterate once again that I never intend to use this post as a back-door attack at readers who I would have issues with. So, please don't ever read anything I write that is slightly controversial and believe I'm talking about you - I wouldn't do that! Yes, that is a rule.....

5 comments:

LiteraryGirl said...

I struggled with Brett's message because I think there is a line between discipline and what he was talking about that people might have been confused by. I know Brett himself has rules for his life that are not black and white Biblical issues. I, too, have rules that I have for myself that I don't expect others to follow but help me to live my life better, healthier, and even more pleasing to God. I think the problem lies when people say or act like these rules are what make us a Christian, are required to be a Christian, and that all others should follow them. Example. I have a rule that I don't drink more than one drink in a row. Yes, I've broken that in the past, but 99% of the time I stick to it. I had someone last week point this out and make a big deal of it, like I was "holier" for such a choice, and that is SO not the point. The point, for me, is that I don't want to even get in a situation where I drink to the point of altering my state of mind, I don't need the calories, I don't need to spend the money (if I am out). It's my own personal rule for my life, not one I think everyone should follow, certainly not one that is a requirement to be a Christian. I also think Brett was talking about things like daily quiet times, which is of course incredibly important, but not a "requirement". Or religions that pray in the streets five times a day. I'm rambling...Hope I made sense.

LiteraryGirl said...

I have to say after re-reading my message I should have said that there are even Christians who would say drinking in the first place is not okay, yet another example of "rule setting"...

Colie said...

People get caught up in rules. I have been as so many Bible Studies or accountability groups where people use the word "should". Perhaps it is because I did not grow up in a Christian home based on rules or I married a skeptic or whatever - I hate the "should" in life. I'm referring a lot about women, because that is who I am around more, but we hold so much guilt in our lives. I think God hates that as much as he hates it when we break his commandments.

Now, I am NOT innocent when it comes to guilt or focusing on rules. But it irritates me.

Finally, on the flip side (and may sound contradictory but it isn't), rules are important in this world and as Christians. We need rules of the road so we can function, we need moral absoultes, children need rules to learn how to function in this society and to learn respect for people ... the list can go on. I also agree that we set our own rules up to help us to live the way we believe is necessary.

So, those are a few thoughts on the subject. I have more but they are more disorganized than above so I will end:-).

StephieAnne said...

I totally agree with both of you. I think it is the publicity of people's personal rules that is the bug for me. Like the hypocrites of Jesus' age. Of course, I am a huge one for absolutes - what the Bible commands, we don't get to pick and choose from. However, just like you both communicated, the extras that I think are sometimes broadcast by others for a variety of reasons (few of them righteous) are perhaps not what Jesus had in mind. I think, based on your responses, you both got my point. Thanks for the input! And Jodi, major bummer that you got flack for something that I think is a very sound principle to follow. Much of the time, if we just set a life of "moderation" we could cover a lot of the rules.....

JustMe said...

I try to be careful about sharing my "rules for living" with others, esp. non-believers, partly because it can send that holier than thou message (unintended, or sometimes a little intended when I get on my prideful high horse - I admit I'm prone to that). I've also found that people can react to others' rules because of their own guilt, and then they get defensive...and that's not necessarily a bad thing! But it can be uncomfortable. For instance, I just don't have much of a problem with being tempted to cuss, and after people have been around me for a while, even though I don't say a word about it, pretty soon they're saying, "pardon my French" self-consciously, or replacing words at the last minute. I've learned to feel good about that and see it as a good thing.

I completely agree with the need for rules, and today's "everything's relative" and "there is no absolute right/wrong" are Satan's ways of confusing people to the point they will follow all kinds of lies. I have a couple good friends who are lesbians and just broke up after several years. I've already emailed Mary and told her to lean on God (they're Unitarians so profess to be Christians) and I'm trying to steel myself to be truthful but loving if she asks what I think of her lifestyle. The rules are clear on that one. They're also clear on premarital sex, so hey, I would never be saying I'm better than her or God doesn't love her. And after 33 years I've finally embraced that the rules really our for our own GOOD! God didn't make them just to take all the fun out of life.

OK, enough rambling. This is such a great topic to think through. Thanks for including me in your dreams, Steph. :) Mine are constantly the "naked in a public place" ones, or having to use disgusting clogged toilets because I have a fear of public restrooms. I know - TMI!!!