Fences Around the Law

Because the Pharisees believed that a person could go to Hell for breaking any of the 613 commandments in the Old Testament, they (along with the lawyers, teachers, and scribes) made more rules, which some called a “fence” around the law. The logic being: if you can fall into Hell for gathering sticks on a Sabbath, then let’s make a rule about not even walking more than x number of steps on a sabbath. Just in case.
Jesus comes along and just doesn’t give a hoot about their traditions. He walks through them like a bulldozer through barbed wire.
Furthermore, he says:
1) You have totally missed the spirit of the commands (which were supposed to be about love)
2) You teach as precepts of God the commandments of men (Mark 7:6)
3) You tie up heavy burdens on people
4) You very often use tradition to even disregard commandments entirely
5) You measure your spirituality by your ability to follow a lot of external, showy rules.
They seemed to think that the more rules the better: but Jesus seemed to think the opposite.
….so question…
What are some of the “fences around the law” that you were raised with? Let’s make a list! I’ll start:
…the Bible says “Don’t get drunk,” so tradition says, “don’t ever touch alcohol.”
…the bible says “don’t cross-dress,” so tradition says, “women must wear dresses” (even when they are outdated and fairly impractical at times, especially for sports!)
…tradition says rock music is bad. But nobody can seem to find the verse for it.
…there is one fairly confusing verse about men having short hair (despite many long-haired dudes in the Old Testament) and so good Christian men don’t have hair past their ears.
…now your turn…
…what “fences” did you see around the law, growing up? What did it feel like to have so many rules?

Is EVERYTHING Either a Sin or a Virtue?

If you take something simple, like say an apple: there are a lot of different ways of looking at it. It can be round, or red, or expensive, or sweet, or heavy, or healthy, or ethically sourced, or GMO-free, or stolen, or cursed, or poisoned, or tasty. None of these descriptions are contradictory: they may all be true at the same time. (Hopefully not, for the one tasting them! lol)
When it comes to humans, as well, there are many different ways of looking at people, and at problems. It seems as though one common problem is that we tend to see people only through one lens: in the church, we tend to think of people as only spiritual, and their problems as only moral. But there are other ways of looking at the same problems. Say a person is struggling with anxiety. Is this a sin problem? Well, that is one way of looking at it. Maybe we should wag our fingers at them and say, “stop being scared.” We could try that. But there are also other options: maybe the problem is past trauma, which needs to be delicately unravelled. Maybe the subconscious is trying to warn them of something in the present: a person or situation that their conscious mind cannot face rationally. Maybe they are out of sync with their bodies. Maybe they have an illness, or a chemical deficiency. …or there could be many other explanations.

The problem with seeing all issues through one lens is mislabeling things, and labeling things poorly. Imagine if the only thing that you cared about were apples that looked good. You could end up with some tasteless ones, some not ethically sourced, and some that were poisoned!

Imagine labelling everything a sin, or a faith issue. Now, anyone who is sick feels a sense of shame. Anyone who has emotions and thoughts that they cannot control now tries to buckle down and repress them even harder, and adds shame to the mix.

The solution is not to remove the ethical component. Some things really are wrong, and sin is a word we need in our vocabulary. But it is not the only word.

I propose another word: health.

What is healthy for you?

God made your body, and He loves you, and He wants you to thrive. Why not try living for a while by asking, “What will be the most healthy thing I can do for myself today?”

…just see where that takes you. Maybe that could be a better starting place than, “How can I avoid sinning today?”