General Christian Discussions

Rules vs. Guidelines and other things – CPUFreak91

CPUFreak91

Member

Posts: 2337
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Registered: 02-01-2005
I'd like to create another discussion, but one whose topic I have been studying and asking questions about. Although I'm not a mod, I would like to request that this to be a flame-free thread. If you have something strong to say about someone's beliefs please do it with a peaceful tone or send some PMs.

quote:
As humans endeavouring to do God's will, we often seek rules to live by. But as humans, we look for any loophole in the rule and exploit that loophole. God doesn't live by rules, He lives by the Spirit of the Law -- principles. God wants us to follow His principles, not to be robots following a series of rules.
A principle will help you decide what is right or wrong in any situation. A rule can be bent or broken according to your will.
For me, the difference between rules and principles is this -- rules tell you what to do and not to do, but principles give the reason and rationale behind the rule -- if you live by the principle, the rule will be a consequence rather than an objective. For example, if the rule is 'don't hit your little brother', we could instead follow the principle 'love your neighbour'. As well as stopping us from physically hurting him, it may lead us to do other positive things for him too. Rules are limiting, but principles are empowering.
So, in terms of physical intimacy, I see a fairly strong principle in the Bible: intimacy is a privilege of covenant. If you aren't in covenant, then you don't get the priviledge of intimacy. The problem is, we are so used to having all the priviledges without the responsibilities. Covenant (ie. marriage) brings many responsibilities with it -- a life-long commitment, a priority to spend time and develop relationship, etc. On the other side, it provides priviledges in return, like sex and having children (a bit of a responsibility too, I guess :-), etc.
So, I don't draw a line, I don't have a rule (kissing? hugging? holding hands?) -- intimacy is something I'm saving for my wife. It's just like getting into a car at the top of the hill, only the car has no brakes! And God designed it that way. He never meant for us to inflame desire in each other, only to stop and get out of the car half-way down the hill -- He meant for us to consumate such expressions with sexual intimacy.
Boundaries are so hard to live by because the commitment in dating is so ill-defined. Are you really going to get married? The only way to be sure is to sign the papers! And so, we allow some of these priviledges because we're pretty sure we'll get married. But then something comes up, and we decide it wasn't meant to be. You've just had a mini-marriage and divorce! You've given yourself -- heart, and body (in various degrees) to a woman who is not your wife -- if you were married, that would be adultery, but because you're single, it's okay?!?
For example -- if you caught me passionately kissing your wife (after you are married), you would be incensed (furious)! Why? Because you feel that passionate kissing is a privilege of your marriage covenant -- something only you and your wife share in. And yet by today's standards, we feel free to partake in it with a person who isn't yet our spouse.
Having said all that, if you still want some rules, here are a few (of varying degrees) to consider that may be effective:
Make a commitment to each other before the emotions start rolling. Keep to it. Something to consider in such a commitment is how you would expect someone to treat your spouse. Treat this lady/gentleman the same way!
If you are in a room together, definitely keep the door open!
Always be in a place where you can be easily interrupted.
Never be alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex. Billy Graham always takes a friend along with him when he travels. Why? Two reasons -- one to avoid any allegations of impropriety, and secondly to protect him from seductive woman -- I believe they once walked into a room where a naked woman was waiting for him!
Avoid romantic relationships completely until you are ready to commit to marriage. Only engage the romance after your commitment. You will have the pleasure of learning romance with the one person whom you will practise it with for the rest of your life!
It's all about your heart -- are you trying to get as close as possible to God, or just trying to get by?
Copyright 1997-2005, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL, http://polynate.net/books/courtship/[part8.html], so that people can find the latest version. Thanks to Jonathan Lindvall for the 'car on top of the hill' analogy.

What is your opinion on principles versus rules? What do you think about the care down the hill analogy? I agree with the author on romantic relationships. Why participate in them when you're not ready to marry that person?

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"After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless.'' -- Tao of Programming Book 2

"Oh, bother," said the Borg. "We've assimilated Pooh."

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steveth45

Member

Posts: 536
From: Eugene, OR, USA
Registered: 08-10-2005
quote:
Originally posted by CPUFreak91:

What is your opinion on principles versus rules? What do you think about the care down the hill analogy? I agree with the author on romantic relationships. Why participate in them when you're not ready to marry that person?

To answer your questions in order:
Principles are very important. To repeat a little, Jesus cares about the motivations of our heart as much (or more) than the actions we perform.
The down the hill without brakes analogy is a little over the top. Intimacy begins before marriage--not sexual, but relational, emotional, etc. The marriage covenant, followed by a closer physical intimacy is a continuation of the journey, which begins before marriage, and continues throughout the course of your lives together until one or both go to heaven. I see my relationship with my wife as a progression from when we met until now. The tip about not being alone together behind closed doors when you're single is a good one.
I can't imagine that I would have ever gotten married if I had never been romantically involved with my wife. There can be quite a bit of healthy romance in a pre-marriage relationship (whatever you want to call it: dating, courtship, etc.). Men should practice chivalry, which includes protecting women, implying that you would treat them with respect and purity--this restraint and care is in fact part of the romance. By jumping into the sack, so to speak, with someone you aren't married to, you are being quite the opposite of romantic--you are being selfish and greedy, wanting to take that which doesn't belong to you.
On a related note, The book I Kissed Dating Goodbye became a popular Christian treatise on the evils of dating nearly a decade ago--almost everyone I knew read it. I heard some of my friends say "I kissed that book goodbye." There are some good points in the book, due to the fact that the worldly definition of dating generally implies fornication. But, plenty of happily married Christian couples started out dating, without compromising sexually. I, for one, would fall into that category.

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|steveth45|
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samw3

Member

Posts: 542
From: Toccoa, GA, USA
Registered: 08-15-2006
quote:
What is your opinion on principles versus rules? What do you think about the care down the hill analogy? I agree with the author on romantic relationships. Why participate in them when you're not ready to marry that person?

I definitely think that God's whole point of giving Jesus to us as an example was to show us that principles are more important than rules. And I think this author puts it well.

However, rules do have a purpose in the fallen world. They teach and they discipline. Rules offer guidance to young people who are still trying to find the reasons that would validate a principle. For instance

Dad: Don't stick that fork in that electrical outlet.
Kid: Why?
Dad: You'll electrocute yourself
Kid: Huh?
Dad: Just don't do it ok?
Kid: Ok.

The kid then learns the rule immediately and the principle comes later with maturity. Rules are also good for discipline, especially because of sin. They become the threshold of the principle where society deems punishment is necessary. I think this is why we so many extremes in the old testament punishments. God sees all violations of principle as sin. Jesus mentions this as well (lusting=adultery).

As for the car analogy, I teenage sexual drive is often described this way. I think, however, that as we grow older our sexual passion can be tempered and bridled if we make it a priority. Perhaps a better car analogy may be hydroplaning or driving in snow. Inexperienced drivers can easily get into a wreck even if their car is fully-functioning.

Intimacy and Sex are like two circles that overlap each other creating a sweet spot in the middle. There is a lot more to intimacy than sex. And there is a lot more to sex than intimacy (often destructive).

While I agree that God's plan for romantic relationships is within marriage, having romantic feelings is not sinful. I was confused about this as a teen and ended up avoiding a lot of relationships with the opposite sex which didn't help my emotional and social maturing. But God is very gracious and He carried me through.

Just some humble opinions.

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Sam Washburn

Check out my CCN SpeedGame 2 Blog

CPUFreak91

Member

Posts: 2337
From:
Registered: 02-01-2005
Oops, I forgot where to find this thread.

Thanks for your replies. I love how you two and the author balance out, looking at both sides of the equation (I wish he did to more extent),

quote:
Originally posted by steveth45:
To answer your questions in order:
Principles are very important. To repeat a little, Jesus cares about the motivations of our heart as much (or more) than the actions we perform.


quote:
Originally posted by samw3:
I definitely think that God's whole point of giving Jesus to us as an example was to show us that principles are more important than rules. And I think this author puts it well.

However, rules do have a purpose in the fallen world. They teach and they discipline. Rules offer guidance to young people who are still trying to find the reasons that would validate a principle.



Interesting ideas presented here. I believe that rules and principles should work together. I maintain a No-kissing rule to help uphold my No-sex-before-marriage principle. Without the rule, I believe I would have a harder time upholding the principle.

quote:
Originally posted by steveth45:
The down the hill without brakes analogy is a little over the top. Intimacy begins before marriage--not sexual, but relational, emotional, etc. The marriage covenant, followed by a closer physical intimacy is a continuation of the journey, which begins before marriage, and continues throughout the course of your lives together until one or both go to heaven.


You think it's over the top? I agree with your view on intimacy, but I believe the author is refering to types of intimacy that a person has very little control over.

quote:

I can't imagine that I would have ever gotten married if I had never been romantically involved with my wife. There can be quite a bit of healthy romance in a pre-marriage relationship (whatever you want to call it: dating, courtship, etc.).


Hmm. I wonder if there are any good books on Christian romance. I never though too much about romance. I'll probably have a few thoughts/questions on that later.

quote:

By jumping into the sack, so to speak, with someone you aren't married to, you are being quite the opposite of romantic--you are being selfish and greedy, wanting to take that which doesn't belong to you.


Huh, I never thought of that as the opposite of romance, but I never thought of that as a type of romance either.

I suppose I have this question, there's nothing wrong with romance, but isn't it a bit like sowing to bits of cloth together very very slowly? Wouldn't you feel uncomfortable if you had a very romantic relationship with a woman but never married her? I certainly would make me uncomfortable having such a close relationship with someone else's future wife. On the other hand though, you could think of it as a very close friendship and that there's nothing to be uncomfortable about.

quote:

There are some good points in [I Kissed Dating Goodbye], due to the fact that the worldly definition of dating generally implies fornication. But, plenty of happily married Christian couples started out dating, without compromising sexually. I, for one, would fall into that category.


Although I have never read the book from cover to cover (I have read reviews and the first chapter) I was given the impression that the author considered dating to be quite secular, implying dumping, fornication, broken lives and messed up lives. I don't "date" because I have a steryo-typical thought about dating implanted in my mind, which just does not fit my personality. I consider it meaningless to me, and would rather persue alternate means to the same end. Would you recommend reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye to anyone on the basis of it being a good read? I'm considering obtaining a copy just to see what Haris' thoughts are.

quote:

As for the car analogy, I teenage sexual drive is often described this way. I think, however, that as we grow older our sexual passion can be tempered and bridled if we make it a priority.


I'll keep my trap shut here, as I don't have enough experience to really coment here.

quote:

Perhaps a better car analogy may be hydroplaning or driving in snow. Inexperienced drivers can easily get into a wreck even if their car is fully-functioning.


I like that analogy, but even an experience driver can be caught off guard whereas anyone can put on the brakes or not even go down the hill. I think it would be best to find a really long and straight road to "drive" on and start the hill after the marriage ceremony. On the other hand, the analogy could be viewed as a hill which is God's plan, where you pick up speed towards marriage and use the emergency exits before you loose the brakes. This is a weak analogy though, in my opinion, when compared to a long straight road.

quote:

Intimacy and Sex are like two circles that overlap each other creating a sweet spot in the middle. There is a lot more to intimacy than sex. And there is a lot more to sex than intimacy (often destructive).


And as Christians do you think we need to use discretion and stay closer to the intimacy side of the two circles, add the second after marriage, and practice the third shape?

quote:

While I agree that God's plan for romantic relationships is within marriage, having romantic feelings is not sinful. I was confused about this as a teen and ended up avoiding a lot of relationships with the opposite sex which didn't help my emotional and social maturing. But God is very gracious and He carried me through.


But romance is a very delicate explosive. It might explode, causing you to marry someone God did not intend for you to marry. Looks like prayer is quite a necessity in a relationship. I lean towards the less romantic side of things as actions mean more than expressing feelings. Love is a verb, not a noun. What do you think about romance? Is it more of a noun than a verb? Should it be more of a noun than a verb? Or am I missing something?

Thanks for you replies.

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All Your Base Are Belong To Us!!! chown -r us ./base
"After three days without programming, life becomes meaningless.'' -- Tao of Programming Book 2

"Oh, bother," said the Borg. "We've assimilated Pooh."

Open source, open mind.

My Programming and Hacker/Geek related Blog

samw3

Member

Posts: 542
From: Toccoa, GA, USA
Registered: 08-15-2006
quote:

I like that analogy, but even an experience driver can be caught off guard whereas anyone can put on the brakes or not even go down the hill. I think it would be best to find a really long and straight road to "drive" on and start the hill after the marriage ceremony. On the other hand, the analogy could be viewed as a hill which is God's plan, where you pick up speed towards marriage and use the emergency exits before you loose the brakes. This is a weak analogy though, in my opinion, when compared to a long straight road.

Actually, some of that was my point. Sure, stay away from the cliffs, but also learn how to drive in the snow. A committed Christian is going to be caught off guard more than careening down a hill. Learning how to handle your emotional/sexual steering wheel is important to stay pure these days.

Now, when I say "learn how to drive in the snow" I don't mean put yourself in compromising positions, but rather learn to understand yourself and the emotions you feel, and talk to people about it. Guys (myself) can have a tendency to completely overlook their own feelings.. sure the feelings were there, but I often never understood what tripped them off.


quote:
What do you think about romance? Is it more of a noun than a verb?

I agree with steveth. Romance (as defined by me) is expressing your deep affection to someone else in a way that respectfully pleases the other person. There are different levels of romance that can be anywhere from surface to sexual.

quote:
Wouldn't you feel uncomfortable if you had a very romantic relationship with a woman but never married her?

how *very* is *very romantic*? Imagine being romantically involved with a girl where the one you would eventually marry was her best friend. Hopefully, the romance you were showing to this girl was respectful enough that the one you would marry would think more highly of you as a person.

Romance is more getting inside the other persons head.. not their bed I think a couple can have a fairytale romance without a kiss. I personally know many who fell in love over pen and paper. (they were pen pals) They were both really romantic to each other.

The intimacy shared premaritally (not sexual intimacy), I feel, is essential to understanding your compatibility with the person. Some people talk about this shallowly and in a sexual sense by "trying on the shoe before buying it".

The down side to romance is that it is an ideal. When someone is romantic they are completely focused on the other person, but RealLife(tm) is not like that. Often you just can't deliver the romance, the feelings aren't there, your sick, etc. Often this isn't learned before marriage and lofty expectations come crashing down.

So to try to answer your question..

quote:
And as Christians do you think we need to use discretion and stay closer to the intimacy side of the two circles, add the second after marriage, and practice the third shape?

Yes. God wants us to be intimate creatures. That's why He love the humble and truthful person. Intimacy is so broad, you can even be intimate with guys! It is also layered and deep. Intimacy is sharing yourself at a deeper level with someone. Intimacy is exposing your self and keeping others' secrets. It is trust and vulnerability; sharing and protecting. Hopefully, by the time you get married, your practicing of intimacy at the higher levels in all your relationships in general will allow you to share at a very deeply intimate level with your spouse.

So.. thats what I think about romance.

God Bless!

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Sam Washburn

Check out my CCN SpeedGame 2 Blog