Monday, February 27, 2012

Man-Made Traditions in the Church

Do you think that strict rules and rigid regulations help teenagers stay sexually pure? Or do they have the opposite result and instead encourage them to be sexually active?

In my life, I've come across quite a few people who think that oppressive rules somehow will turn children into great adults. However, in the situations I've witnessed, the children just turn out to be rebellious, bitter, and resentful young adults. I have friends who are growing up in environments where their parents- or their pastors or youth pastors- wield iron fists. Do you think that bringing children up with an iron fist will really make them great adults? No, it won't. If fact, it will actually hurt the child more than it will help.

I've heard some crazy stories from fellow teens about how strict some authority figures can be. A friend of mine once went to a church camp where the guys and girls could only swim in the pool at separate times. They weren't even allowed to see the other group in the pool and the adults went out of their way to make sure this didn't happen. They would walk the guys completely around the campus just so they wouldn't see the girls in the pool, and vice versa. And even though the girls never saw the guys swimming, the guys still had to wear shirts in the pool. I also once knew this guy who got in trouble just because he hugged a girl goodbye. Also, I know of one Christian organization that doesn't allow the guys and girls to touch each other. And these aren't teenagers: This is a college-age program. One certain private Christian university even had separate staircases and elevators for each gender. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not those insane rules will actually help or not.

So why do these iron-fist-wielding adults do what they do? Why do you think some parents, youth pastors, and pastors can be so strict? I think in a lot of cases, they really do have the child's best interests in mind. I think that they look at verses like 1 Corinthians 6:18, which says, "Flee from sexual immorality...", and they try the best they can to keep their kids away from sexual immorality- even if it means being rigid and oppressive. They honestly just want their kids to be pure, so they go out of their way to ensure that. But I think once you get to the point where young men and women aren't even allowed to touch each other, you've taken it way too far.

In Colossians 2:20-23, Paul wrote, "Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence." What Paul is saying here is that such strict regulations aren't beneficial. In context, he was referring to some of the laws that the Jewish religious leaders of the day had come up with. Remember how Jesus often got in trouble when He healed someone on the Sabbath, thus "breaking the Sabbath"? That's the type of law Paul is writing about.

Paul says here that since we are new creations, we don't have to abide by the old rules and regulations. We are free in Christ- not that we are free to sin, but we are free from having to follow a list of rules in order to know God. Jesus laid down the new law when He came and died on a cross. Paul says this in Colossians 2:13-15, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."

I look at all of the man-made rules, laws, and traditions that church follows and it just disappoints me how far from Scripture some of them are. For example, a male teenager today is reprimanded because he hugged a girl, yet Jesus forgave an adulteress of her sins and saved her life from capital punishment. Can you see the difference here? Another good example is the belief that people have guardian angels. While it's true that there have been Biblical instances where angels protect humans, the idea that people have personal guardian angels is not supported in Scripture.

I encourage you not to get sucked into believing or following any of these man-made traditions or rules. As Christians, we should look to the Bible to see how to live. We shouldn't base our doctrinal beliefs on what man says or believes- unless it lines up with what the Bible says. Look to the Bible and to the Bible only. If you follow anything that isn't supported or encouraged by Scripture, it isn't of Christ.

Colossians 2:8 says, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."


Shay said...

Amen! Yes, I totally agree...I thought of going to another college than the one I am attending but the rules for the guys and girls there seemed a bit crazy to me...granted that was not the only reason but definitely a deal breaker. Its important that we do look to the Bible for our guiding principles and not treat the other gender like they are lepers or something. haha.

Ashley said...

Yes! I'm glad someone agrees! :D

Cindy l. said...

so what do you think are proper 'rules' for conduct,etc. between the sexes?