Yesterday we talked about the danger of making laws where God hasn’t. I’m still not sure why we tend to take such things lightly. But Danny made an interesting observation: hardly anyone realizes that they are binding manmade laws on others. Rarely does anyone say, “I’m going to make a new law.”
Most of the time, we feel that we are merely applying the logical extension of another law. It’s like the Pharisees with their Sabbath traditions. They were trying to follow the commandment about keeping the Sabbath. They did so by creating a series of definitions of what was work and what wasn’t, what was allowed and what wasn’t. Then Jesus came and violated their manmade regulations… and they accused him of violating God’s law.
Our history is full of examples of laws laid down in the pursuit of holiness, some which seem quaint now. No movies. No “spot” cards (you could use Rook cards, but the other cards were for gambling). No “mixed bathing” (which I still oppose, though I have no problem with mixed swimming). No rock and roll. No smoking. No drinking. No dancing.
My great-grandfather allowed no dominoes on his property; they too could be used for gambling. He also forbade the reading of fiction, for fiction is a lie. When my mother was at ACU, women couldn’t wear polka dots; might draw the boys’ attention in a bad way.
As I said, these laws are an attempt to make it easier to fulfill God’s law. It’s easy for me to look at another man’s home-brewed laws and laugh; it’s harder for me to see them in myself. Here’s part of Danny’s comment from yesterday:
One hurdle, I think, is that hardly anyone (if anyone at all) sees himself as guilty of binding man-made commands. I suppose our core problem may be in recognizing them as merely that. It’s like we all have friends who need this post, but not us.
The yeast of the Pharisees is as bad as the yeast of the Saducees. I think we need to openly talk about the dangers of creating our own laws.
What attitudes can help us avoid the trap of creating new laws? What heart adjustments need to be made? How do we make them in ourselves, or what outlooks can we avoid personally? How do we walk the fine line between legalism and lawlessness?