Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rules

I was rereading the book of Galatians.
Chapter 5, verse 1, stood out to me as it so often does.
"So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law." (NLT)
The part about getting tied up again in the law has been catching my attention recently.
A footnote in my Bible echoes my thinking and that of the passage as well.

"We must stand against those who would enslave us with rules, methods, or special conditions for being saved or growing in Christ."

Recently I have seen people say that we need to dress a certain way, but not actually give specifics. I saw one comment that did give specifics. I wonder why not everyone agrees with the 'cut-and-dried' method he laid out? (just kidding)
It's not that the Bible isn't helpful. It is.
It is that the Bible isn't what we worship and praise and love and adore.
The Bible points us to Him. (John 5:39)
Why does everyone get so caught up in 'the right thing', just to miss the real thing?

24 comments:

Rachel said...

I agree.

As long as it is not sin and what you are doing is done for the glory of God, then it is between you and God. If we need some adjustment somewhere, God let's us know.

Check the attitude of the heart. You can follow all the ideas of women's heads must be covered, women must wear dresses, etc, but the heart can still have the wrong attitude.

God cares about what's in our hearts, not what's on our backs or heads.

j razz said...

I draw a red flag when someone (or a commentator whose comments are included underneath the scripture) leads you to believe that this verse is in reference to ...standing against those who would enslave us with rules, methods, or special conditions for being saved or growing in Christ.

The passage (and the verse mentioned) are in reference to the Law- the Torah, the sacrificial system, etc., the very thing that the book of Hebrews contrasts with Christ and His fulfillment of them and the very thing that Paul takes up at length in the book of Romans.

The application is not wrong, but it does not come from that text as it would appear that Paul never had such an application in mind. I would agree with the commentator's statement, but not when it is built upon the context that it is- Gal. 1.5.

j razz

j razz said...

Sorry, I meant Galations 5.1 (not 1.5)

j razz

Timm said...

For a moment I thought that maybe Microsoft came out with a new Galations version 1.5.

I don't disagree with you Roland. However, I'd be interested to see how you define legalism. According to the footnote in your bible, (which I agree with J's assessment of,) what you are describing is not legalism. It's not being presented as a means of salvation, or as a way of growing closer to God.
The woman's head covering, for example, was presented as a guideline for worship. It was never used as a means or a step towards salvation or unity with God.

If a person believes in an absolute and strictly literal interpretation of the bible, but their heart is in the right place, are they legalistic?

Pablo said...

They get caught up like that because they can control the rules and regulations, as opposed to controlling God.

Either that or they have failed to understand that righteousness comes from our gracious God and not from obedience to the Law.

Romans 7 & 8 anyone?

Rachel said...

If a person believes in an absolute and strictly literal interpretation of the bible, but their heart is in the right place, are they legalistic?

Timm, the way I see it, and this is my opinion, if a woman feels the need to wear a dress to church each week to follow not wearing men's clothing, then more power to her. If her heart is right before God and about this issue, than no, I would not call her legalistic. But I also do not think she has the right to tell everyone else they need to dress like her.

My parents go to a Mennonite church. It is absolutely fascinating to watch people's attitudes. My mom does not wear a head covering and the church is OK with that. It is also interesting to watch many of the girls there make a tiny covering for the top of their heads, to get around wearing a covering as much as possible. I think it comes down to the spirit and the heart. Why are you doing what you are doing? Is it glorifying to God?

Timm said...

She has the right to tell people anything she wants. I don't think you meant it this way, but that is like telling me I don't have the right to explain why I believe that you should believe in predestination. It's you who has the choice to listen or not.

i absolutely agree with you guys that this is a matter of the heart before anything else. Unfortunately, that is a matter that, for the most part, is between the person in question and God.

To your point about glorifying God, that plays to what I am trying to say. I would like to think that by instituting a dress code that requires women to cover their heads while worshiping, is simply an attempt at glorifying God. That is, after all, what the Bible seems to instruct us to do. It's obvious that you, Roland and I interpret 1 Corinthians 11 different than the person who originally suggested this concept, but I think he is trying to glorify God just the same as we are. He's going about it a different way, but who are we to say he is being legalistic for doing so. (I realize that you said it's not legalistic, I'm referring back to the original post.)

Roland said...

We can take laws and codes and make a mess out of it. But what about this. (summarized for easy use) :)

Hebrews 8
7 If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.
13 When God speaks of a “new” covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.
Hebrews 9
10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds[f] so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. 15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

Timm said...

That is a wonderful passage Roland, but it does not take away from the fact that the Law is still quite useful. It does not take away from the fact that certain things covered in the law are still sins.

As for it's effect on the discussion that Rachel and I are having, your passage does not take away from the fact that we should still try to please God with our actions and take his word very seriously when he instructs us on how to act/dress/talk etc. To be honest with you, I haven't even been talking about honoring the old covenant. I don't think the guy who brought up women covering their heads, (the comment that I assume prompted you to write this post,) was talking about old covenant law either.

Roland said...

That is a wonderful passage Roland, but it does not take away from the fact that the Law is still quite useful. It does not take away from the fact that certain things covered in the law are still sins.

Yes, Timm. Exactly. Very useful. But no longer our master.

And though the point about head coverings is new testament, it is, and I know you'll take umbrage with this, a recommendation.
Read in Acts what the apostles said Gentiles should do.
Pretty stinking vague.
Why do you suppose that was?
Why was the head covering so important in Corinth?
I really haven't studied it yet. I'm thinking I should.
But was there any geographical and temporal reason for that particular set of standards in Corinth?

This actually makes me think of a whole new post.
Thanks for all the comments.
Of course, it will have to wait until after I get a new copy of Velvet Elvis. (Just gave another one away) ;)

Timm said...

You and I agree on our interpretation of the Corinthians passage. I don't hold to the belief that woman must cover their heads while worshiping. I'm just trying to make the case that we should not call someone who does hold that belief "legalistic." At least not if they are not saying that a woman must cover her head in order to be saved. If they are simply providing that as what they believe is God's guideline for worship, I think they are entitled to that belief without being labeled that way.

Rachel said...

She has the right to tell people anything she wants. I don't think you meant it this way, but that is like telling me I don't have the right to explain why I believe that you should believe in predestination. It's you who has the choice to listen or not.

You are right, I didn't mean it that way. I meant that... oooh, having a hard time wording this. I mean she shouldn't go around condemning others. If the woman says to another this is why I do/believe this, that is a great thing. What I mean, is if she went around saying I don't care what you believe, you are wrong and going to hell because of it, that is a problem. OK, I think that got my point out. The scary thing is, people do go around acting like other Christians are going to hell because others do not dress the same way they dress, and that is wrong.

I would not say the person is legalistic; however, I don't really the know the person that started this, just like I don't know Roland or Timm. Even if I did know you, like I know my other friends, I wouldn't really know you. Only God really knows you fully. To pass judgment on the person who started the head covering thing would be silly, especially since I don't know him.

For me, I look at where Paul talks about the meats being sacrificed to idols and being a vegetarian, and all that. If you are convicted not to eat meat, because it may have been sacrificed to idols, than don't. If someone is convicted to have a woman's head covered, than the woman's head should be covered. That does not make you legalistic, it makes you convicted.

Roland said...

I see your point, Timm. And I agree with you and wasn't trying to say that someone convicted of something is being legalistic.
It's when they look down upon another for not doing what they think that it heads in that direction. As much as I would love to think people don't do that, they tend to. Often times without even realizing it.
Rachel, you make a good point as well.

The truth is that I went to a church that didn't say you had to wear a suit and tie. In their view, God would eventually convict you of it. And if you didn't do it soon enough, you were being resistant to God's will. All the while, they said, "Wear what you believe God would have you wear."
They spoke with fork-ed tongues. (My 1/8 indian heritage showing. ;) )
Not everyone one who is convicted of wearing a suit/dress/head covering/whatever is like that.
But more often than you would think, it does happen.

I think we are in agreement, but to ask a question of ourselves:
"Do I look down on another for the way they dress? Whether its more upscale or less?"

Timm said...

Sadly, I think it's human nature to look down on others for a variety of reasons. I'll admit I'm guilty of it at times. Just as there are times when I'm guilty of idolizing others.

Roland, I think that I'm getting to know you better. I'm realizing that the angle you take on some of this stuff stems from what sounds like a very unhealthy and some-what legalistic former church. Sometimes I have to step back and remind myself that different people have different backgrounds and often have different views of the same view, (if that makes any sense.)

Just for the record, I didn't think that you or Rachel were ever in the wrong at any point during this conversation. Good stuff.

Roland said...

I have a great amount of respect and am understanding you better as well.

Thanks for your comments. It helps to keep me from going too far to the other side. I haven't yet, but left to my own devices, I know I would.
I have a human nature as well.

Craig said...

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I cam to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but fulfill."

I take Galatians 5:1 Jesus saved us from receiving salvation from the law, not that we forget it entirely.

As for women covering the heads. From what I have read and what makes sense to me is that this is a local custom and Paul was demonstrating roles between the church and men and women.

Roland said...

Right on, Craig!
And thanks for the comment.

MikeT said...

There is no point in obsessing about compliance with the law because every minor infraction breaks the entire law. Rather, use the law to serve as something like a tour guide book on your path that is being led by faith so that you can spot obvious areas that you have problems with in your life.

Triton said...

Well, I guess it's only appropriate that I join the fray, seeing as how everyone's talking about me anyway. ;)

First of all, I am not a legalist. I think it's quite amusing that Roland thinks I might be one, especially in light of a recent debate I had with Jay C over the Israelite diet. I think Jay and Mark Call would definitely agree that I am not a legalist.

Second, I am hardly judging anybody, or condemning women for not covering their heads when they pray. The early Christians were fed to the freakin' lions; all I'm doing is trying to appeal to y'all's consciences and intellects. Let's try to keep some perspective here.

Third, I don't believe in a "strictly literal" interpretation of the Bible. I believe some of it should be taken literally, some of it is metaphorical, and it is up to us to "be like the Bereans" and figure out which is which. For example, I do NOT believe that the disciples literally ate Jesus' flesh, or that a woman's breasts are actual deer. Instead of trying to pigeonhole me into one end of the hermeneutical spectrum or the other so as to dismiss me out of hand, let's address each other's arguments on their merits.

Fourth, there is nothing in the Old Testament about women covering their heads when they pray. So the usual New Testament arguments about the Law don't apply. You can throw them out as a red herring if you like, but I'm not buying.

Fifth, Paul gave us some explicit reasons for why he said what he said. If he had just said "women should cover their heads when they pray" and left it at that, then the idea that this should only be applied to Corinth might have some merit. But he didn't stop there; he gave us his rationale, and it had nothing to do with any particular Corinthian practice.

Sixth, I think it is a trend among modern Christians to try to avoid as much responsibility as possible. We see this in the form of gay bishops and such. Human beings are rationalizing creatures, not rational ones, and even Christians often attempt to rationalize their way out of doing something they don't want to do. If the trend continues, it will only be a matter of time before we see "hit men for Jesus" because the prohibitions against murder are interpreted to only apply to the Jews or to some first-century church. If y'all don't like that idea, then you'd best develop an intellectual and Biblical foundation for opposing it.

Seventh, Christian women wore hats or bonnets in church for many centuries. It is only recently that they stopped. Did they stop because 20th century preachers figured out something that all the previous preachers could not? Or is the feminist movement a more likely culprit? Keep in mind that Christian men, at least the ones I've seen, still remove their hats/caps when they pray.

That's enough for now. Hopefully I've given y'all some food for thought.

Roland said...

Sorry for painting you as a legalist Triton, but you have shown tendencies that way. We all do.

Out of curiosity on your fifth point, is there any possibility at all that it was more targeted toward the Corinthians?

And Triton, I am glad you stand by your convictions. Some don't. Romans 14 says a lot about it and I think you defend your point well. I may not agree, but at least we can disagree without being disrespectful over it.
Thanks.

Triton said...

Out of curiosity on your fifth point, is there any possibility at all that it was more targeted toward the Corinthians?

I really don't see how, Roland. Let's examine the passage:

1Co:11:3: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
1Co:11:4: Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
1Co:11:5: But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
1Co:11:6: For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
1Co:11:7: For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
1Co:11:8: For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
1Co:11:9: Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
1Co:11:10: For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.


In verse 3, we see Paul talking about the relationships between man, woman, the Son, and the Father. These are universal things; they do not apply solely to Corinth. From this relationship structure, Paul jumps right into the head covering issue for both sexes. He is relating physical human heads to the idea of headship in the authoritarian sense. The way men/women uncover/cover their heads is a symbolic representation of the human/deity and man/woman hierarchies.

The following verses reinforce the symbolism behind the actions until we get to verse 10. The head covering/uncovering issue is all about the authority pyramid and showing respect for that authority structure. Even Jesus respected His position as being subordinate to the Father.

Verse 10 is vague, since the passage doesn't really spell out what "because of the angels" means. There is only one possibility that I consider convincing, though, and that is the case of the Nephilim:

Ge:6:1: And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Ge:6:2: That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Ge:6:3: And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
Ge:6:4: There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.


I'm willing to entertain other possibilities about what "because of the angels" means, but the Nephilim stuff is the best theory I've heard so far, so I'm going with it for the time being.

To sum up, all this stuff seems universal to me. I really don't see any way that it has anything to do with Corinth in particular.

Roland said...

Triton,
You make a very convincing case.
I'll read up on it some more.
I still like Rachel's comment though:
God cares about what's in our hearts, not what's on our backs or heads.

Timm said...

It seems, (according to the poll on your sidebar,) that despite our bickering, we all agree on a standard of dress.

Roland said...

So it would seem.
That is part of the reason I put the post up.
I'm going to add more later.