I have grown up in institutions that have been fundamentalistists. This means that the churches and schools has taken a very strong moral stance on many issues of the surrounding culture. This position is seen by many as a very separates stance. Fundamentalists don't dance, or drink, or smoke; in fact these actions are considered sinful. And growing up, this has been my philosophy on life.
I believe that this is a very safe position to be in, but it can lead very quickly into legalism. Too often fundamentalist camps have pulled away from the world, leaving it to it's "vices." Forming Christian schools, Christian radio stations, Christian hang out places, where they sell Christian coffee.
Fundamentalists have sat down and established actions that are sins, and stamped them into the minds of every child in the churches. Boom..black and white: no and's, if's, or buts. Growing up I was indoctrinated (if you will) about the different sins and what I needed to do to avoid falling into their grasp.
As I began to mature, the rules seemed to be a burden to my life. They were cramping my style. I only followed the rules because it was what I had been taught my whole life, and not because I wanted to. So I would follow them, mostly because I couldn't prove the feeling deep inside me that wouldn't let me buy into rules just for the sake of rules. This lead to me breaking some of the rules, because they had no meaning to me other than it's what I had been taught, and not something I necessarily believed.
I still struggle with this feeling of not totally accepting the rules side of the deal. And I think that this is the reason that many of the young adults today struggle with church. They feel that the church is only giving them half the truth. We know that this Christian thing is right for us, but the whole idea that the Christian life is set out before is in black and white instantly makes us uneasy.
I guess the only thing that I wonder about is what is the point of living a moral life. Donald Miller in his book "Searching for God knows what" suggests morality is a private thing between man and God. Which to me is kinda an awkward proposition as earlier in his book, he talked about man being meant to live in community with each other. But I think he makes a good point, we don't live by the rules to impress anybody but God. What will impressing them do? Get us brownie points in the person most likely to succeed category when we graduate. So I think maybe that has something to do with the issue.
I have also heard the argument that God created us and set up rules for our own good. And not following the rules will lead us down roads bad for us. I totally agree with that statement. God created us and so He has the right to say what we can and cannot do. BUT what are the rules laid out before us? God can demand anything of me He deems necessary, but are the rules so Black and White as I grew up thinking?
Sorry I have been rambling on and on for a while now. I still hold onto following the rules. Not as tightly as I have before, but I live a life that I consider "by the book." I guess I have typed this all as a platform to help start the process in my life (and yours if some of this bothers you too) of how I am supposed to live out life. So if you want to leave a comment please do. If you wanna IM me and talk there, cool! Or if you want to forget all about this conversation please do! But I hope that in some way you'll be drawn closer to the love and grace of God!