Seen on Twitter: Jesus turned 120 gallons of water into wine. The church has been trying to turn it back into water ever since. @PeteGreig
If you are convinced Jesus turned water into grape juice you probably don’t see the humour – sorry. However, the point I want to make is we who follow Jesus have a very bad habit of adding to what He said, altering what He said, or finding a reason why that was then and this is now so we can ignore what He said.
I bring this up because I see plenty of it in the areas of sex and marriage. Some of it is “allowing” things we should not, but there is also the other side, trying to call things sin which God never called sin. I see both of these as wrong, and both as harmful. Today I am focusing on adding to God’s list of sins.
This is nothing new. Speaking of the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus said:
“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” [Mt 23:4 ESV]
The Pharisees added hundreds of laws to what God gave them. They would have argued their additions were based on the Law, and were designed to make sure people did not break the Law. One Messianic Jew explain it to me this way: if the rule is “don’t touch the oven” then adding a rule to not enter the kitchen is designed to make sure no one can touch the oven and thus sin. The problem with this is God forbid doing this very thing in Deuteronomy 4:2. The Pharisees apparently felt they knew better than God did. They must have felt they had a good reason for violating the Law by adding to that Law. Those who add to the rules Jesus gave us no doubt feel the same way. They think their intentions are good, but God says otherwise.
The real danger of telling people not to do things they can do is people then spread their self-control too thin. Recent studies have shown self-control is a finite thing, and in many ways it’s like a muscle. Exercising it can build it up, but over working it exhausts it for a time. God understood this, and gave us the strength to resist real temptations. However, He did not give us enough strength to resist the real temptations plus a bunch mankind made up. Adding rules to what God says pretty well assures us people will fail at something, and it may well be one of the things God really said to avoid.
Paul also had something to say about this:
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations– ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” [Col 2: ESV]
Legalists who add to God’s rules are, according to Paul, practising a self-made religion. Their limitations and seeming self-control may seem impressive, but Paul says these things can’t help control the things the flesh desires. This is no doubt why it is far too common for those who ascribe to such strict limits to be exposed for some sort of sin. Their pious additions to God’s rules don’t protect them; rather it make them more likely to end up in sin.
By the way, neither this nor yesterday’s post should be taken as a lead in to me announcing some new-found “liberty”. My concern is to find the truth; the God ordained place of balance between “anything goes” and “everything is sin”. These are the two lies of Gnosticism, and both are alive and ruining lives today. It is easy to let an excess in one direction push us too far in the other. Don’t let this happen to you – the truth is in His Word, and we don’t need to add to or modify the Bible because of what we see happening around us. Let us learn to live the truth regardless of the excesses and abuses around us.
Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:
Black and Married with Kids
The “Real” Benefits Of A Couple’s Retreat: A great tool for building your marriage.
A Simple Love Story (and the secret to a happy marriage): How long has it been since you and your bride had a date?
The Generous Wife
Hot, Holy and Humorous
7 Tips for Having Sex at the Parents’ House: Great sign to post!
Intimacy in Marriage
Crappy Marriage? What if it Doesn’t Get Better?: A must read if this is your fear.
Journey to Surrender
The Power of Positive: Doing: The action part of positive.
Top 15 Reasons Romantic Partners Fight: A thought provoking read.
What Comes Naturally: “Just because something comes naturally to us doesn’t make it good. Or from God. And just because something doesn’t come naturally to us doesn’t make it bad.”
This Side of the Fence: A thoughtful post on the issue of homosexuality.
Serve Your Spouse In Love: This is how it should go.
My Beloved Is Mine
Inner Demons?: If she has committed adultery, how are you doing with the thoughts the enemy wants to use to destroy your marriage?
Porn for Women: Another post great on “mommy porn”.
One Flesh Marriage
Sex With a Bun in the Oven: A great post on sex during pregnancy.
Then Comes Baby in the Baby Carriage: An inclusive and well done post on sex and marriage with a new-born.
Momma Had A Baby: A dad’s view of how a baby changes mom and sex.
Romantic Act of the Day
The Romantic Vineyard
Stop Grey From Becoming The New Black And White: Yes, another one!
Safe at home
TMI: When We Say Too Much: An important lesson I am still learning.
…to Love Honor and Vacuum
Sex Shouldn’t Need Batteries: Christians and Sex Toys: I don’t agree with Sheila on this one, but it’s well reasoned and reasonable.
Don’t Forget How Much They Want Us to Fail: This is beyond belief! The world REALLY wants to see Christians fail.