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Reveries and Soliloquies: Pharisee Complex

Reveries and Soliloquies

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pharisee Complex

Jonathon Swift once said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”

As Christians we sometimes fall into the trap of having a Pharisee complex that compels us to pass judgement and condemnation on others. We look at Christ’s commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves and somehow the “your neighbour” part disappears and we are left with “love yourselves.” Because that is what we are doing when we hold ourselves as morally superior to those around us-placing ourselves on a pedestal that has the words “stone launching pad” engraved on the bottom.

What is the purpose of this behaviour? Could it be that by tearing others down we are lessening our own guilt for the sin that is not outwardly evident? Sorry to break it you darlin’, but God already has that sin duly noted and is waiting for you to get on that before it festers into a stinky mess.

I think we have redefined the meaning of the word “sin” so that it constitutes only grave offences such as murder, robbing, adultery, lying, etc. The literal translation of the word “sin” is to “miss the mark.” Whose mark? God’s. Not yours, not your family’s, not your church’s. God’s. All of God’s commandments are centered on one tenet-love. Whether to love Him or His children, the message remains.

It is as if we are playing a round of Who is Holier and we are running out of categories so we have to invent new ones: Church Dressing 101, Appropriate Manifestations of Worship, How to Show Agreement During A Sermon. There is a word for describing when we are more worried about the do’s and don’ts and maintaining the outward appearance of holiness, and that word is legalism. Yes, I said it. LEGALSIM.

Does it really matter if Jenny is wearing a sleeveless dress? That David isn't wearing a suit jacket? Or that there are instruments that require a power source? I know, I know, there are a lot of rhetorical questions there, but using my favourite Grey’s Anatomy quote- “SERIOUSLY?”


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