Sunday, April 2, 2017

Gaurding against our sin is now our sin?

   I have been following a strange news cycle this week that has left me dumbfounded.  It has been reported that the Vice President of the United States of America follows a variation of the Billy Graham Rule.  For those who do not know the Billy Graham Rule, I will give you a little background.

   In 1948, Billy Graham was conducting a Crusade and one night a woman came to seduce him.  He was not overcome by her seduction and in order to avoid future issues he and his ministry team started to develop a set of rules to govern themselves.  They are as follows:

1.  Operate with complete financial transparency.  Meaning all financial issues are above board, completely accounted for, and managed by someone who is not the figurehead of the organization.

2.  Avoid even the transparency of sexual immorality.  A minister or male employee of the Billy Graham organization will not be alone with, travel with, eat with, or associate with a woman that he is not married to, or without his wife present.  This was to avoid even the appearance of compromise or the suspicion of it.

3.  Billy Graham's organization refused to criticize other ministries or pastors.  Pretty self explanatory, but the idea here is that their job was to preach the Gospel of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection and not to wage war against other camps.

4. The Billy Graham organization refused to exaggerate success.  It is not uncommon in churches or businesses to claim more success than you are actually having.

   So, those are the Billy Graham rules.  Mike Pence is under pressure now for following number 2.  He refuses to associate alone with any woman without his wife present.  Much to the ire of todays moralists, he follows this rule.  This week he has been called sexist, old fashioned, stupid, immoral, weak, childish, etc.  Though I do not know Mike Pence, I am sure that these terms fit him well from time to time, as they fit all of us from time to time.

  What I find most confusing, is that our known weaknesses have become our weaknesses.  Much like the kids that we all laughed at in Kindergarten for having some perceived or actual abnormality that they were helpless to change on their own.  I can remember being the child that was singled out from time to time and other times being one that singled others out for ridicule.  It of course was wrong, but it happened. 

   Reading through the news headlines about Mr. Pence were all just about the same.  However, I did come across one that proudly stated the following: 

           The problem with "don't eat alone with women": good character is better than strict rules.

I agree with this statement whole heartedly.  I feel that a high moral standard and impeccable integrity are valuable things in any time and society, especially one as morally bankrupt as which we live in today.   The moral man can accompany, counsel, associate, dine, or even cavort with any woman he so chooses and never once fall into the trap of sexual infidelity.  This man has no need for rules. 
   The problem is this.  I only know one man that fits this bill.  Jesus Christ the Nazarene.  People have been yelling and screaming on the internet how this rule is sexist.  Degrading women to merely objects of sexual desire and saying that women need the same face time with men that is afforded other men.  Maybe so, but I see a definite trap in forgoing rules to keep our sinfulness in check. 
   I find it so strange that our admittance of our sinfulness is now our sin in the eyes of the world.  The Bible clearly teaches all are sinful.  Every man, woman, and child among us.  The Bible also says to flee from our sin, as well as to resist the Devil and he shall flee from us.  How then, are we who are sinners to act if our barriers we have installed to keep us on the path towards righteousness are being broken down by our society?   Is it a matter of self control or will?   Should we just give in to temptation like everyone else?

   Ask yourself this.  Have you ever overcome any adversity on your own?  Be honest.  I will tell you this now the answer is a resounding no.  If you grew up completely isolated in a sterilized pressure chamber in the remotest part of the galaxy and only had your own thoughts to guide you the answer would still be no, as you inherited traits from your mother and father that keep you alive.  But, Man (meaning all of humankind) was not meant to live alone or in a vacuum.  We are constantly bound to one another from cradle to grave.  The one thing that binds us all together is that we all (men and women) are immoral sinful monsters of iniquity.  Completely given over to our base desires to fulfil and serve self.  This is why we have community.  Community is built to help control our base desire. 

   In the Christian sense, we have community as Christ with our head.  Jesus Christ the morally perfect God-Man who has no need for law, but followed it perfectly anyway.  Christ not only followed the law, but He perfected it.  Asking his followers to be wise as serpents but as harmless as doves. 

Be wise - know your faults.  Know that you need things in place to help keep you on the narrow path.  Have boundaries (i.e. rules to live by), have a brother or sister in Christ that will keep you accountable, and most importantly take God's law serious and Christ's call for you to be perfect seriously (be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.)

Be Harmless - know that the person next to you is also as week as you.  Do not give opportunity to anyone to sin by your actions.  You will be held accountable not only for your own sins, but also for the sins that you lead others into by your actions or through your inaction.