By the book

Do you know this man?

Not to dive into politics, but I really respect the ideas of a certain Texas congressman named Ron Paul.  Congressman Paul just had his campaign for president ended, and I frankly don’t know if he would have made a good presidential candidate, let alone president.  That is not the point of this post.

What I have come to respect about Congressman Paul is his insistence on doing things “by the book”.  On every issue and each vote, Congressman Paul introduces referendums and legislation on the floor of the house that has one theme… “Let’s do it the way the Constitution says we should do it.”  He has started a movement, called the Campaign for Liberty, that is really just about constitutional government.  Again, no matter your politics, or how you feel about Congressman Paul, there is a legitimate point to his work.

A lot of the problems facing our country today would not exist if we had simply not strayed from the constitutional way of doing things.  As an example – the war in Iraq?  I doubt we would be were we are today if Congress had had to vote to declare war, as is their sole right Constitutionally.  Would congress have been willing to formally declare war and put themselves on the record that way, given the evidence at the time?  Maybe… but the process would have ensured a second look.  Again, my point here is not politics, but instead the distance we have departed from the founding governing document of our Republic – the Constitution.  In a lot of ways we have played fast and loose, and I believe we are paying the price for that action.  Many people today do not believe that we can or should follow the constitution because 2008 is so vastly different from 1776… that the Constitution is a “living” document – defined as a document with considerable room for creative interpretation.

Why is this important?  Because the same thing happens on a smaller scale in my life!  Yours too I bet.  God gave mankind a collection of Divinely Inspired writings… stories, poems, history, letters, prophecies, and laws that are designed to guide and govern how humanity lives.  The Scriptures are complicated in their scope and interpretation, yet simple in their direction; they are multi-faceted in their diversity, and uniquely homogeneous in their clarity.  For a while, the church made it in vogue to say that the Bible was God’s “handbook for living”, referring to it as an owner’s manual for life.  Now there is pushback against those analogies, and in some ways rightly so, because an owner’s manual somehow does not capture the gravitas of Scripture.  But, the foundational usefulness of the Scriptures that those analogies attempt to profess is very valid.

When the Scriptures say not to sleep with anyone but your spouse or there will be emotional, spiritual, relational, and physical costs… the causal relationship of actions to consequences is pretty clear.  But if I decide to do things differently, I pay the price for straying from this basic instruction about cause and effect in my life.  No matter how fashionable it is to not talk about the cause and effect, how in vogue it may be to ignore certain parts of the Scriptures, if I live contrary to their advice, I pay a cost.  Many argue that just like living by the Constitution, living according to Scripture is an archaic way to live at best, and an arrogant approach at worst.  They believe that living in 2008 is so complicated in comparison to Biblical times that it is not equitable or desirable to arrange life according to the Scriptures.  I believe that ignoring the “governing documents” in either venue creates a predictable causal effect… and consequences result.

Lest I be accused of equating the Constitution, or the American form of government, to the Sctiptures, I have to admit that the Constitution, while at all accounts wise, was written by fallable men in difficult times.  The Scriptures were penned by humans but authored (or “breathed into existence”) by God.  There is no comparison in their origin…but there are consequences of ignoring each.

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