Do Rules = Oppression?

The last I wrote about my Bible study, titled Twisting the Truth, by Andy Stanley, I was reading about the subject of submission to authority. Truthfully, I have yet to hear back from Zondervan about how they will help me be able to continue this study, since the main content of the study is in a video, and the video has stopped working for me.  So, this post and possibly the next few will be over the reading portions of the study, and will probably not cover as much detail as they would should the video work.  But we’ll make it, all the same…

In case you haven’t read my previous posts, this study as a whole talks about how Satan schemes against us, deceiving us into make choices that ruin our lives.  One such scheme is deceiving us into believing that rules equal oppression, and that freedom comes from ignoring the rules. Stanley points out that this kind of thinking is most prevalent among teenagers.  At some point in our lives, we developed some kind of warped thinking mechanism that tells us that rules don’t apply to us, and that whatever the rule was in place to protect us from…well…we don’t need protecting, because that won’t happen to us.  Driving drunk?  That’s illegal?  Oh, don’t worry, I can handle myself just fine.  That’s for other people who aren’t as capable of holding their alcohol as I am.  This doesn’t apply to me.  And we see the results of this kind of thinking every day on the evening news.  Stanley writes that, as we get older, our rebellion becomes more sophisticated.  We take each rule and evaluate it as it fits our particular situation.  And when we decide to follow a particular rule, it is because we see its merit, or because we don’t want to get in trouble. 

 Andy Stanley talks more about this topic, and I will follow up in my next post on his discussion. But as I read this and as I thought about it, I was reminded of a related analogy I saw written the other day on a comment to a YouTube video.  The person gave the example of playing tennis on a tennis court on top of a high building (perhaps similar to the one in the picture here).  Tennis requires a lot of running at full speed to go after a ball, and often you run off the court before you can stop yourself.  If there were no fences on this high tennis court, you would most definitely feel nervous about running around at full speed.  You would inhibit a lot of your running and your aggressiveness, and you wouldn’t play to the best of your ability, because you would always be thinking about the possibility of accidentally falling off that building.  But, if there were fences there – high fences designed to keep people from falling off – you could play normally, and you wouldn’t concern yourself with falling off as much.  The worst that would happen is that you might run into the fence, and as much as that might hurt, it pales in comparison to what falling off a tall, tall building would feel like.  The fences actually give you freedom to play the way you should, uninhibited by outside worries like falling off of buildings.

In this analogy, the fences are like rules. They are there to keep you from doing things that are harmful to yourself.  It’s not necessarily comfortable when you come in contact with the rules, but it’s better to come in contact with the rules than it is the consequences of not following them.  When the Bible says we have freedom in Christ, we are often confused, because we see certain rules portrayed in the Bible (i.e., don’t commit adultery, don’t kill people, etc.), and we associate rules with oppression – not freedom. But if we will change our perspective of rules, we will see that we can live much more free by following them than by always trying to break them, not unlike the tennis player who could play his game more freely knowing the fence would keep him safe.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Do Rules = Oppression?

  1. Great post, Jeremy!! I know that I used to look at Christianity as just a bunch of boring rules. I had no idea how wrong I was until I met up with Jesus. I don’t feel like I follow “rules”, but I feel like I follow my God-given desires as well as my God-given convictions.

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