Religion By Rules

The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, otherwise known as Vatican II, convened on October 11, 1962.  Over the next three years the council met four times and produced a series of changes that would affect the way Catholics lived their faith.  Two of the changes were especially noteworthy:

Catholic mass could be said in a language other than Latin.

Catholics could eat something other than fish on Fridays.

Catholics celebrated, and who can blame them?  Finally, non-Latin-speaking Catholics would be able to go to church and actually understand what was being said, and Catholics who hate the taste of fish could have a burger instead.

Don’t you wonder how some rules are made?  I imagine the following conversation:

“I have an idea!  Let’s make it a rule that all worship services have to be done in Latin!”

“But what about places where no one speaks Latin?”

“Too bad for them.  All in favor, say ‘Aye!'”

Please understand, I’m not making fun of Catholics.  Their history is what it is.  My point is that their long history of rule-making and rule-changing serves as a cautionary tale.  When any religion becomes primarily about rules and regulations, frustration is the inevitable result.  Why?  Because men are complete fools when it comes to making rules, and that goes for non-Catholics as well as Catholics.

Take the Obamacare regulations, for example.

Are you ready for this?  I hope you’re sitting down.

The Obamacare regulations are 2,163,744 words at this moment.*

To put that in perspective, War and Peace is only 560,000 words.

Atlas Shrugged is 654,000 words.

The King James Version of the Bible is only 839,314 words.

That means the Obamacare regulations are 2.5 times as long as the KJV Bible!**

You see what I mean?  Turn people loose making rules and they’ll go hog-wild every time.  Honestly, I can’t figure out why since we hate rules!  Yet, when given the chance, we spew them forth like water from an open spigot.  And you just know that with so many rules being made, a large percentage of them are going to be downright dumb.

Here’s a suggestion: let’s make our religion be less about rules and more about inner qualities like faith, hope, and love.  Paul says those are the only things that are going to last forever anyway. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Yes, we must respect rules and obey the ones God has given, but let’s not be like the Pharisees and define our faith by a list of do’s and don’ts.  And let’s not listen to modern-day Pharisees who are always trying to box us in and make us what they want us to be by imposing their own made-up rules.

Galatians 4:4-5 says, “When the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.  God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law.’

We’ve been set free from religion by rules.  Let’s enjoy our freedom.

*The Obamacare regulations continue to evolve as the legislation is interpreted, waivers are granted, etc.





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3 Responses to Religion By Rules

  1. Barb Paton says:

    Well stated Thank you for another good blog.

  2. Charles Mason says:

    Mark, Great thoughts. When I was a young boy life was so much simpler. We went to church every Sunday and then spent the day at my grandparents house for dinner and family. No rules just family and love. My grandparents used to tell me that I had seen the best days and things were changing and not for the best. I didn’t understand then, but now I do.

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