We heard from Sonny Lemmons, a stay at home dad.
Then we heard from Addie Zierman, and her reflections on trying to find God’s calling at a Christian college.
And I think I see a theme emerging in my head.
See, we have these rules. Sometimes we call them roles. They are the checklists that we are supposed to fulfill, the constraints we are supposed to abide by in order to be fulfilled, happy, dare I say righteous Christian men and women.
But the more I study the prescribed roles we place on ourselves, the ones that say that a man is a failure if he stays home with his child, or that a woman would be disobeying the Bible if she answered the Holy Spirit’s calling to preach, the more I find myself asking one simple question:
Who told us that?
Answering that question may help us figure out who is really qualified to preach, or to raise children.
Teachers Are Not Always Right
I always believed my teachers. Everything they said, I took as gospel truth.
My mom was a teacher too, so that just elevated all teachers and everything they said to the status of ex cathedra.
Until about third grade. A friend and I were discussing something that third grade boys are interested in, and his opinion differed from what I had been taught in school. He told me very bluntly, “Teachers don’t know everything, you know.”
“Yes they do,” I responded.
I was shocked that such an accusation could be leveled. I was hurt because he was insulting my own mother (and his own mother, because she was a teacher too.)
But I gradually learned that my friend was right, that I could usually trust my teachers, but I should always test what they told me, because they were just human.
And that little awakening prepped me to step out of my introverted shell and defy my eighth grade science teacher who was filling our public school brains with evolution (posed as a fact.) I insisted she acknowledge she was teaching us a theory, because I was a moderately good evangelical child.
Who Told You That You Were Naked?
In the story of Genesis, Adam and Eve eat that tasty, tasty sin-fruit, and things spin out of control. They realize they are naked, make some clothes, and hide from God when they hear Him coming.
And when God asks what they are doing, Adam answers that they were afraid because they were naked.
And what does God say? In some weird Bible translation, maybe God says, “Yes, your nakedness stirs me to anger and wrath! Now cover yourselves and go away, for my holy eyes cannot look upon your human breasts and penises!”
God doesn’t say that. The first sentence out of God’s mouth is:
“Who told you that you were naked?”
Adam and Eve assumed what God would say to them. They assumed they now required clothing. God never accused them or convicted them or told them to get dressed. They did that all on their own, and they never asked what God actually required them to do. (God did them a favor by providing clothes, but still never told them they had to stay dressed or that Eve’s skirt had to be two inches past her fingers.)
Did God Really Tell You?
There are multitudes of rules, roles, and constructs that we try to fit ourselves into. We contort ourselves to try to please God.
Maybe the first question we should be asking is who told us this is what God wants? Does the Bible really say that? Is it telling us what to do, or just telling us what happened?
After all, the Pharisees assumed that hundreds more rules had to be added to the law. But Jesus was kind of a minimalist when it came to rules. He summed up the entire law with love.
Modern Bible readers have a real knack for turning every sentence in the Bible into a law. We put the Pharisees to shame, I’m afraid. But before men decide they have to check off this list, or women check off that list, they really should be asking “who told me to do this?”
If we ask that question first, when it comes to our rules and regulations, we may just find ourselves becoming minimalists…like Jesus.
What do you say? Are we just prone to creating more rules than we need? Do people need rules? Or do people thrive more without too many rules?