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Your Resistance to Rules Can Teach You Something

I came across the most dizzying rant about Christian “rules” about sex. Granted, she included many citations from scripture, which tells me she took a considerable amount of time to develop her position.

Of course most of those “rules” aren’t specifically stated in the Bible, but they are guidances passed down through tradition. My guess is that she’s either a Southern Baptist or a disoriented Catholic.

Rules and guidelines aren’t arbitrary. They were set forth for a specific reason. Sure, sometimes it’s about control, which often can be thwarted once this intention is exposed. Other rules and guidelines are set in place to help the person who must abide by them. Oftentimes we resist the rules because we're unaware of our attachments.

Let me give an example.

For many years, I had a rule in my classroom about cellphones. I established this on the first day of the term that students were not allowed to check their phones during class. If they did, they would suffer a penalty on their class engagement grade.

I put forth this rule into place because it was disruptive to me to see students pecking away at their phones during class. Therefore, it can be seen as a need for control on my part.

There’s another side of this. I noticed that when students were on their phones during class, they weren’t paying attention to my lectures or instructions.

Then, I would notice students missing critical information in understanding concepts. They would fail to complete elements of their assignments because they weren’t paying attention.

So my cellphone rule was a challenge for students to pay attention. If they knew that they couldn’t check their phones when they wanted, they would have to practice some restraint.

Do you see where I’m going here? They would have to wait.

Of course, you would be surprised at how students would sneak a peak at their phones. They would hide them in their lap as if I couldn’t see them. Or they would use their computers and message others during class. They don’t know that I’ve been teaching longer than they’ve been alive. I’ve seen it all.

Needless to say, I’ve lost this battle. I now tell students that it’s up to them to pay attention. If they cannot sit for an hour that they (or their parents) are paying for, they aren’t disciplining themselves for living a productive life.

Many religions have stood by their rules regarding sexual activity. I suppose some of the more “liberated” churches might not have these rules. And yes, some of them are indeed very rigid, like my cellphone rule.

However, these rules teach us to practice restraint. Rather than cater to our every whim, there is significant value in the waiting.

Think about it, if you gave your child everything he wanted, the child would be spoiled. If the child learns how to moderate his yearnings, he advances this teaching to the larger desires.

We are not meant to live in excess, catering to our every hedonistic whim. Instead, we practice moderation, recognizing that too much can lead us far off the wise path. We lose focus because we’re always being blown off course by our unruly desires.

If you find the rules of your community cumbersome, consider what it is that brings you the most issue. You might find that it’s an attachment that is fighting to stay alive but instead must be vanquished.

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