Swearing, Porn, and Why All The Rules

stock-footage-paranoid-man-looking-through-blindsGrowing up, there was just nothing worse than when my parents said the words, “Because I told you so.” (1)  Even as a young boy, I wanted to know why.  What’s the purpose behind the rule?  Now that I’ve grown up, that desire has only intensified and I’m now realizing there is great damage done when we lack meaning in our morality.

I’ve met people who are moral for morality sake and all it does is separate them from any meaningful relationships with those different from them.  They judge easily from a safe distance.  Their callous without even realizing it because they just assume everyone should join the moral club they paid into.  Immoral people are seen as a threat to their personal morality.  I suppose this is where the term “self-righteous” came from because ultimately, it’s all about, well… yourself.

I see something different in God.  His morality is always relationship based.  If you look at the Ten Commandments, you’ll find you can easily break them down into three relational categories.  Our relationship with God, our relationship with our family, and our relationship with all others.  This gives a much needed meaning to morality because the end goal is no longer to be more moral.  The goal is, and always will be, to be more loving.

Take swearing for example.  Now, the Bible speaks about how we shouldn’t use foul language, but do you really think God is up in heaven keeping tally on the times I said “Shit” instead of “Shoot”?  I can almost hear him shouting, “Gosh darnit, Kyle!  You missed the mother flipping double O’s again!”

I mean, come on!  Of course not!  God is however, concerned with how I use any words that hurt others.  That’s the meaning of this morality.  It’s not moral for morality sake but God deeply cares about our relationship with others and doesn’t want us to speak any hurtful word toward another.  The meaning of morality is relational.

What about porn?  So many have fallen into the lie that porn only effects the one looking at it.  Porn is perceived by many as a victimless crime and so it runs rampant in both “morally” Christian homes as much as all others.  However, I’ve learned there are 1,400 girls being bought and sold in my city tonight.  I’ve discovered the average age of these girls is 14.  I’ve become aware the leading cause of this sex trafficking in our world is pornography.  Every click we make further enhances the demand.  Not to mention the research showing the effect porn will have on our spouse, sex life, friendships, kids, and so much more.  Porn rapes relationships.  So when Jesus says to a crowd, “I was naked and you clothed me,” He is inviting us into a morality with meaning. (2) The meaning is always relational.

A final example for a morality with meaning is the time Jesus decided to reinterpret the ancient scriptures.  He’s asked by a very moral religious person what is the greatest commandment to which he replies,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (3)

 

Jesus starts off correctly reciting an ancient text all the moral people would have known (4) but then changes things.  He starts off quoting the part about Loving God but then goes suddenly off script.  Jesus replaces the second commandment of following a bunch of rules and making sure your family follows those rules with simply, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  He’s consolidating and simplifying and making a great point.

Jesus is again revealing the meaning of morality.  The point of following the rules is to love our neighbor.  The purpose of “righteousness” is not about self, but others.  The reason I’m moral, is so I can be more loving.  Anything less ends up doing more damage than good. Morality was never meant to be isolating, but inviting.

I used to think signing up to be a Christian meant I’d have to become that really moral guy who kept his lawn mowed, got uncomfortable when someone swore, and my neighbors didn’t want to spend much time with.  I’m now realizing God wants me to keep the lawn mowed so the neighbor kids can play squirt gun games on the front lawn while the parents and I drink beers in the shade.

Morality – Community = Isolation
Community – Morality = Assimilation
Morality + Community (& Holy Spirit) = Incarnation

Which of the above do you look most like?

1.  I caught myself telling Linc that the other day and threw up in my mouth a little.
2.  Matthew 25:36
3.  Matthew 22:36-40
4.  Deuteronomy 6:5

Empire

1521425_10100296821230063_1780455789_nA few years ago I was in Malibu (A Young Life camp in Canada) with my family.  There was a high school camp going on and I was one of the speakers. (1)  I was walking past the  pool and volleyball court toward the dining hall when I heard someone yell, “Hey Grandpa!”    I kept walking and didn’t think anything of it when I heard it again, even louder, “HEY GRANDPA!  TURN AROUND!”

I stopped and turned around confused and a little annoyed.  I have two young boys.  I have all my hair.  (sure, it’s starting to grey a lil)  I realize I’m a lot older than these high school kids, but jeeze, I’m no grandpa!  I looked toward the volleyball court and the game had stopped.  There were five or six boys looking at me and pointing.  At this point, I started to get mad and march toward them.  Right when I got close enough to unleash a empassioned speech about respecting your elders and the immaturity of adolescence, one of the boys stepped forward and said, “Hey man, sorry… We all call you our Grandpa.  Remember when you introduced Tom to Jesus?  Well, Tom has led all of us to Jesus too, so, that kinda makes you our spiritual grandfather.”

My anger disappeared and I didn’t know what to say.  My mind flashed back to when I met Tom.  He was an awkward sophomore in high school.  I was still in college and was balancing a few jobs while leading Young Life.  We became friends and we’d often grab slurpies after school.  I remember the day he met Jesus and his life changed forever.  I remember officiating Tom’s wedding as he married Rachel in a small church up north.  Tom started hanging out with teenagers too and has faithfully walked these young men through their entire junior high and high school years.

I used to think what I wanted was to be some great speaker that would pack out stadiums and everyone would think I was really insightful and impressive.  I think we all fall into the trap that life is about using our talents and education to gain as much power and money as possible.  I just slapped a God label on the end so it somehow seemed okay.  As Donald Miller puts it, “He said to me I was a tree in a story about a forest, and that it was arrogant of me to believe any differently.  And he told me the story of the forest is better than the story of the tree.”  

I’m now realizing life is about relationships.  Not fleeting Facebook likes, but rich, meaningful experiences together where we open our lives up to others and they to us.  A fulfilling life is not one in which we accumulate but one where we give it all away.  There is a rich reward to those who live to pass down life, faith, and love to others.  You start to feel like you’re building a sort of empire of sorts.  One that is filled with laughter and stories and legacy.  Along with it comes this profound sense of being part of something far larger.  No wonder the phrase Jesus repeated most was, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (2)

Perhaps this is part of what Jesus was speaking of when he shared that his kingdom is not of this world.  He’s speaking of a different sort of empire.  Every time we pray, “Your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven,” we are joining Him in a new kind of rule not built for accumulation of resources but of relationships.  A kingdom no longer about amassing for ourselves but freely giving hope to others, so they may give to another, and so on.

This sort of life gets me excited for heaven.  I’ve never been one for singing a bunch and I really don’t think that’s the point of heaven.  I think it will be all about relationship too but far better.  I can’t help but imagine a long wood dining table filled with countless friends.  Our spiritual grandchildren and grandfathers will all be there.  We’ll share stories, laugh, and sip wine as we breathe in the depth of our soul’s greatest need.  To be fully known and fully loved will finally be realized.  At the head of the table will be the Grand Conductor who arranged every relationship like a beautiful symphony.  He will raise his glass to love reborn and declare once again, “It is good.”  His dream in a garden many many years ago will finally be realized.

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me. (3)

 

1.  Bringing my family to Malibu has always been on my bucket list.  Had to open for Jeff Bethke who is far cooler and awesome than me.  Lil bitter about that still but sure grateful for the opportunity.  Thanks JP!
2.  Matthew 10:39
3. John 17:21-23