Sunday, March 8, 2009

Law-Lovers

Christians have a tendency to believe that living a holy life means strict adherence to a brace of rules hosted by their local denomination, affiliation, or tradition. The psychological pressure exerted by sincere believers on themselves and others to, say, not dance, avoid secular music, stay clear of bars and pubs, refuse communion with other traditions, be pacifists, make regular Sunday attendence, etc. must crush the joy of a hopeful heart. Who could enjoy the freedom of Christ just knowing that your local congregation and its many para-church connections act as an implicit spiritual gestapo? Be sure to clear the salt stains from your shoes because if you don't Mrs. X will complain to the pastor about how distracting it is for her and others to receive the Body of Christ from a man who has salt stains on his shoes (actual example).

Christians love law. We love making laws. We love imposing law on others, arguing about laws, canonizing law, interpreting Christ's words through a lense of law, basing entire affiliations on a select group of lifestyle preferences as if they were laws (e.g., Brethren In Christ and the law of pacifism), and we certainly have this cockeyed notion that a pastor/priest/bishop represents the law (though we prattle on with titular sentiments like, "representative of Christ", even though we treat him as the man weilding the stone tablets of the denominational constitution; not to be crossed but only submitted to).

But what is the good of being a Christian if it means bunging up your soul with imitations of Old Testament practice all the while professing New Testament grace? Why live under Moses and sing about Christ? Why parade about in the light of the Pharisees while drawing a curtain over the Son?

There seem to be no real and decent answers to any of these questions. It is one thing to admonish fellow believers to consider their leaders and imitate their way of life (Heb. 13:7). It is an entirely different thing to constrain fellow believers to preferentialisms and surplus moralisms in an effort to force conformity to a leader's way of life; in effect, to mass-market Percy Byshe Shelly's terrifying vision of a doppleganger, all-the-while ordaining it as 'holy' and proper.

Rather, where Christ is, there is freedom. Where grace reigns, legalisms are unnecessary. Where the conscience of the believer is discipled to Christ through His Word and continuous prayer, moralizing becomes the providence of cheap grace and the spiritually inept.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well put, Chris. Where Christ is, there is freedom. I believe this diabolical penchant for making laws and then imposing those laws is one of the greatest battles we face. And how subtle it is. We sing about Christ, but live like Moses.
Cheers,
Wyatt

Christopher said...

Wyatt,

"I believe this diabolical penchant for making laws and then imposing those laws is one of the greatest battles we face. And how subtle it is."

I agree with you, my friend. And I think that it comes out most aptly in a minset of judgment. A while back, Sarah wrote a post concerning the nature of judgment, and I think her insights filter in nicely on this topic.

If our Christian 'lifestyle' is predicated on this-and-that censorship, is it any wonder that one of Christianity's cultural memes is judgmentalism? And is it any wonder that that predisposition toward judgmentalism leads to law-making, and preferentialism-cum-moralism?

Sarah said...

It is also concerning that from the first judgment against others, it is a slippery slope of snowballing judgment, not at all the loving, compassionate concerned sort of thing that it's presented as- you know, just to warn believers and protect them from their own sinful and and fleshly desires which only new laws can address.

We see someone enjoying dancing, and we immediately think, 'what is so enjoyable about that? Could it be just pure joy of movement? Looks too fun to be worship, and just loooook at the way s/he's mooooving! That's NOT worship! Well, that's it, s/he's thinking immoral thoughts. That's the road to immorality. Dancing is the beginning of the road to immorality!

Isn't it's wide and easy path obvious???!!! (only to true believer's of course, who read the proper translation- and interpret literally- because how else could anyone be assured?)

Outlaw dancing because the pleasure of it might tempt one to hedonism, which could lead to promiscuity, which could lead to sloth, then neglect of one's duty to family, church and state, then leading astray of family members and confusing the reprobate (as the transgressor continues to arrogantly use the title "Christian"), then to loss of faith, and salvation! SOOOO obviously, dancing must be avoided. More than that, and better to save others from the start- dancing is reprobate.

Defense de dancer.

Bon.

Christopher said...

Mwaaahahaha! I love the irony of your response. Nicely stated.

Now, since you're intending something different than what you're stating in your example of 'dancing', does that then mean that you're dancing around the issue? Should indirect communication then be judged sinful? Heh. ;)

Sarah said...

Actually, if I put some effort in, I think I can come up with a formula/template so that you could plug in any activity and end up outlawing it for 'good' reason.

Lemme work on it ;)

toshido said...

i find the example of dancing to be odd here. let me explain a little.

Those that know me, Chris, know I worked as a bouncer for quite some years, over 4.
I have seen a lot of dancing.
before that I went to clubs a lot. generally every week at least once. i have danced a lot.
i have also watched musical performances and movies. I have watched even more dancing.
Finally I am not opposed to entering a strip club. Where I see even more dancing.

I can attest and stand witness that dancing can convey a good many things, some which are definately sinful.

Of course then we are looking at dancing as a form of communication, like talking, or writing.

You know I lost direction here... Then again it is 5 am...

i think the gist of it is simply that not all dancing is sinful, but some of it should be.
Like any other message conveyed through any other form of communication.

Sarah.


I dont think we even need a template or formula. if we simply break down anything to its base elements, then reassemble as we see fit we have the same end result as you pointed out from dancing.

i.e.

Eating.

Sorry meant to quote Sarah here but wonky keyboard

We see someone enjoying eating, and we immediately think, 'what is so enjoyable about that? Could it be just pure joy of chewing? Looks too fun to be worship, and just loooook at the way s/he's chewing! That's NOT worship! Well, that's it, s/he's thinking immoral thoughts. That's the road to immorality. Eating is the beginning of the road to immorality!


Again apologies, I meant to bold my changes but again wonky keyboard.