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03 April 2008

Acceptable Law-Breaking II

This post barely touches on a deep topic. In an effort to keep my post to a moderate length, I am sure to fail to touch on some points that will fly off of the screen at you.

"You have to know the rules in order to break them." Not entirely true, but this statement makes its point well.

For instance, there is a difference in the intent and effectivenesss of a learned, superior writer who breaks the rules of grammar and a first-grader who does the same. It's not the action that counts in those cases; it is the intellect and motive behind it. The skilled writer could potentially receive accolades, but the primary student would almost certainly receive a bad grade on his work.

C. S. Lewis regularly began sentences with the conjunctive words "and" and "but," for example, yet no one castigated him for it (at least, if they did, it never gained a foothold in the literary world). This is a case of a writer intentionally manipulating the general rules of writing in order to effectively and stylistically communicate an idea.

By comparison, it is entirely possible that the thing you see someone else doing -- something which would be sin for you -- is actually not sin for them.

"If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake — the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?" (1 Corinthians 10:27-30, NLT)

This is a wonderful example of why it is imperative that we follow Christ for ourselves; not to attempt to serve or follow Christ by proxy for someone else. That is, I cannot live the Christ-life for you by forcing you to do or refrain from doing from certain things, and you cannot do so for me.

I bring this up in order to explain that 1) it is edifying and encouraging when we support another Christ-follower in his walk, even if we have to abstain from certain things to do so (by this we see that to some extent, we do have to live our lives for others), and 2) my observation of another person's actions which do not fit into the lifestyle prescribed for me by God does not necessarily indicate that that person is out of the will of God. We should not allow that sort of thing lead us to anger or envy.

I will not go deeply into this related point, but I should note that we will automatically gain insight into someone's life by seeing the fruits his life produces. By observing the product in which the person's actions result, we can learn how to help, encourage, or even reprove him as needed. However, often it is not the actions themselves which deserve our attention. Noting Preston's comments under yesterday's post about speeding, it is not necessarily the strict observation of a law which is the good thing -- the "good" of a thing includes the intent with which an action was taken.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In reference to the breaking of gramatical rules it was E.E. Cummings who coined the phrase that you quoted. His breaking of the rules was done as emphasis to his writings and gave added meaning to works. To the average reader it is hard to decipher what he is trying to convey, but from those who heard him read his own writings he made clear sense. He and other writers receive a free liscence to write as they want. For people in the area of sin it is another issue. As E.E. Cummings made sense of his own writings, many people have made sense of thier sins. People have justified their sins and transgresions. "The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason" Proverbs 26:16. Also "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes..." Proverbs 12:15. But these are people not held to a higher standard. The elementary student is in actuality held to a higher standard then the professional writer because he being judged by "wise counsel." Just as the non Christian is not being help to the standard as the Christian. In James is states that is a its wrong for a Christian to know what is right and not do it. There are more deeds a Christian is proned to do then a non Christian because of the standards they are held to. Should everyone do what is right Christ follower or not? Yes. Are Christ followers expected more of and help to a higher standard if they do not do these things? Yes. To be set apart from the world is to have more expected of you.

Lamarr said...

I love your reference to judging others. That's something I really struggle with - if God's working a 'new thing' in me - he 'ought' to let someone else know, too, in my prideful opinion, because they're worse off than me, after all...

Yeah, he always puts me in my place and reminds me that where I am in my walk and obedience is the only important thing between Him and me.

Christy said...

I think this a dangerous position to take. There are many people who are deceived into thinking that their sins are not sin - example homosexuals. Many of them sincerely believe that they were born/created that way and so it cannot possibly be a sin. We need to know what God says about everything and judge on that basis, not according to what we feel about everything. I know it's become cliche and a lot of people roll their eyes when they hear the statement, "What Would JESUS Do", but it IS that simple, isn't it?

Dean Lusk said...

I didn't create this position; I was just pointing it out.

Homosexuality is one of those activities and lifestyles that is specifically condemned in the Word of God. It's not open to a personal judgment call.

What I'm talking about is not some sort of excuse to encourage people begin to think, "Hey, I wonder if I can do that thing? So-and-so does it..."

It's not applicable in every situation, with every sin, as your example pointed out perfectly.

Here's a really, really fundamental example of my point: is saying the word "butt" (in reference to a person's posterior area) a sin? I was not allowed to say it as a child. My friend Stephen was. I would have been disobeying my parents if I said it. Stephen wouldn't have been disobeying his.

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