When my husband and I were first married,
we were 'counseled' by Christians regarding the bearing of children:
Yes, children are a blessing of the Lord, but God wants you to be wise.
As though receiving a blessing from the Lord could be unwise.
The problem, of course, is that those who give advice along these lines,
have made their wisdom the standard.
Setting our own opinions and preferences up
as the way to really honor God drives people from Him.
My son told me that years ago, a teacher told him,
"Tearing the papers off of crayons is something
Jesus would never want you to do."
Frankly, it made my heart hurt.
Because he said he believed her.
He thought he had sinned against God.
I wish I had known it sooner.
"If you really want to be a God-fearing person,
you will wash your hands
in the prescribed (but extra-biblical) manner
before eating your food.
If you are truly a believer, you will keep a spotless house,
so that others can see the cleanliness of Christ in your dust-free home.
If you are sold-out for Jesus, you will forfeit marriage
in favor of communal living in an elder-dictated community.
Jesus would never walk with a cigarette-smoking sinner.
Give up your tobacco so Jesus will speak to you.
My preferences are God's preferences,
and I can show you how to please Him."
Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."
And He didn't say a word against the tearing of crayon wrappers.
But He did have a few things to say against teaching men's opinions
in the place of God's requirements.
It causes a conflict when we read what God's word actually says.
We attribute evil to God when we see Him doing the things
men have told us are wrong to do.
But He is good, and He does good.
Or we hide ourselves from Him (and from our brothers and sisters in the Lord)
because we think He's angry.
And when it cost Him so much to give us access,
I don't think we're doing His work when we push others away from Him.
Furthermore, it trains the consciences of those we teach
to dismiss real evil as inconsequential
while carefully obeying worthless edicts.
That's not the Gospel.