The New Testament says a fair amount about the traditions of men, but never in a positive light, for the traditions of men tend to distract us away from God’s purposes, and often lead us astray. Churches have traditions too, and these are by and large, also traditions of men. That is not to say that all church traditions are bad in some kind a blanket statement, for surely that is not true. Our traditions take many forms, they are reflected in our teaching, doctrine and theologies, they often deal with the way we worship or the way we speak or the type of music we sing, or the way we organize ourselves or reach out to the community, or in the way we don’t reach out. Most church traditions I know of were good in their time, back before they were traditions, when they were “contemporary” and controversial. Yet quite often, by the time a contemporary practice becomes a tradition, they have outlived their usefulness, for while the message of Christ may not have changed, the people who are hearing that message have changed, and the message doesn’t come through in the same way. When this happens people stop growing spiritually resulting in problems cropping up that their parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with. When that happens following Christ becomes just a matter of habit and forms rather than of growing in relationship with the Living Word of God.
I mentioned a few posts back that 150 years ago, there was no particular confusion about sexual immorality, and that by contrast, there is a great deal of confusion today. With these changes that have come upon our society and churches whether we like it or not, we have new challenges that our parents and grandparents did not have in brining the message of Jesus Christ to our communities, and the old traditional ways of doing this are no longer useful instruments of the Kingdom. This is not a value judgment of mine against anything old, it’s simply a fact; it’s neutral in that sense.
The old ways of looking at the image of God are obsolete; they are in some cases, doing more harm than good for the Kingdom. They way we have traditionally taught matters relating to the human body haven’t been effective in quite some time, and today they leave our pastors and teachers with nothing to bring to the market[lace of ideas in the larger community; nobody is listening to us anymore on these subjects, not even weekly attending members.
And why should they listen? We have allowed ourselves, in many cases, to think and teach that the body is a bad thing full of lusts and urges that drive inescapably into evil and wickedness, and yet already in this short and very informal little exploration of ours, we have seen that way of thinking simply is not so. Instead we have seen that we, male and female, have been created in the image of God in body, soul and spirit, that our bodies are not inherently unclean, shameful or evil, and that God’s very purpose for creating humanity is demonstrated in the physical union of man and woman in marriage. We have seen that relationship with our Lord is our highest priority, that it is within this relationship that we grow toward full maturity in Christ and that this whole process brings glory to God.
We’ve also seen something else that is really interesting; it’s in the comments. If you look closely at the comments and likes, you will find that just about any Christian background, tradition and church affiliation that you can think of has either commented positively or liked these posts, and how often do you see that?
Would you like to know the sad part?
I can’t find anybody teaching this, and I’ve been looking for quite some time now. I can find one part here and another part there, but I haven’t found the whole thing anywhere. I have found academics debating about these things, but that usually means something along these lines will come into common circulation in 10 or 20 years with the next generation of preachers and clerics of whatever background, and we need to think differently a lot sooner than that.
As always, I look forward to your comments!