Sunday, May 24, 2009

Un-Biblical Legalism

I decided that today I would post on legalism and standards in God's church. I am quite aware of the level of standards that are taught in extremely restrictive organizations, and I feel that this is truly at the heart of what God is all about.

The first thing that bears mention is the control that is exerted by these organizations over what we can eat and drink. It shows just how much they want to be in control of everything we do. I recently left the UPCI organization, and am quite familiar with the LDS church as well. The LDS church specifically bans alcohol and coffee as being substances that pollute the body because they can harm it. The same rationalization is used for things such as cigarettes although the moderate use of coffee or alcohol has never been proven as unhealthy...quite the opposite in fact. The UPCI bans the same things (for the most part) except for coffee. The original reason given for coffee by the LDS church is ambiguous at best (D&C 89 actually talks about hot drinks, not coffee or tea specifically), but is interpreted nowadays in the light of what are common hot drinks. The two most common reasons put forth by the modern LDS believers about coffee are that caffeine CAN be addictive so they avoid it, and the other is that there are tannic acids involved in the processing of coffee beans that are bad for the stomach lining. I'm not sure if the latter is actually based on fact, but that is the reason I was given by a LDS bishop and his second counselor. As for alcohol, both organizations ban them because it can be addictive. Tobacco is banned by both organizations for commonly known health reasons, although they quote the scripture about polluting the temple of God (the believer) as the scriptural reference. While I agree that not smoking is good, and not being a drunkard is Biblical, I also believe that they are not the unforgivable sin. Jesus died that we might have liberty and grace and mercy. Not so we could live under men's laws and commandments. The Apostles bound only three things: no idolatry, no fornication, and no blood (including strangled meats) in Acts 15:20, 29. If those are the only three things bound by the apostles that had the authority to do so, why do we end up with all these organizations making up more rules? In Acts 15:21, we see that they do make mention of the Law, but which Law? the Ten Commandments? or the Lesser Law? It would seem that they would be referring to the Ten, because Jesus Himself condemned the phariseeical rules and Peter refers in Acts 15:10 to the yoke their fathers couldn't bear. I doubt he was referring only to circumcision as that was an act performed on every male at 8 days old...they didn't have to bear it because it was done before they would need to make a decision about it. In that light, it seems that we are called to live under grace, albeit with the effort and commitment to not break the Ten Commandments of God (the Bible says the Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ) as they are the clearest and earliest record of right and wrong, with one huge exception: Cain and Abel. Cain was held responsible by God for the murder of Abel, even though the Law had not been given. We do not read where God had said "don't kill each other", yet Cain knew better. How would that be possible without the Law? Concience. The Bible states that God will write His laws on the hearts of His people. This shows a return to the pre-Law state of affairs where people knew right from wrong based on what God had put in man to begin with. The whole reason God had to die for man was because man had gotten so far from where we were supposed to be in our relationship with Him that we didn't have that inside voice telling us to not do certain things.

What does all that have to do with standards like alcohol and coffee? Simply this: God doesn't care if you drink them, He doesn't care if you eat pork, He could care less if you like to eat vegetables only. Everything in moderation is the only admonition we have. We are told that getting drunk is bad, but Paul tells Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach. A cup of joe can be a nice way to wake up or finish a meal, but 3 pots a day is probably a little excessive. A t-bone steak is good with some asparagus, but eating an entire rib roast is not good for your cholesterol. If you want to preach against alcohol, you better teach against cough syrup. Or, just simply teach people moderation in what they do. In all aspects of their life. Legalistic phariseeical standards are no longer required by God in the NT church. An organization that teaches them may well be good for someone that simply cannot control their drinking. But if you want to have a glass or two of wine with your meal, feel free. It aids digestion, inhibits the body's ability to absorb fat from your meal, and promotes heart health. It also has been shown that it may reduce the risk of most cancers. If you can't keep your drinking moderated at 2 glasses with your supper, then don't drink. As Paul said, don't be bound. If you want to have a cigar when your baby is born...go nuts. It isn't going to send you to hell. If you can't moderate your tobacco use, then don't smoke or chew in any form. Common sense. God will give you strength if you ask. Don't spend your life bound to an organizations standards of what men think is ok. Let God define it in your life.

God Bless you

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.