How Church Rules Ruin the Gospel and Chase Young People Away

I grew up in church. I grew up with all the church rules. No drinking. No dancing. Be at church every Sunday morning. No sex outside marriage. No bad words. No smoking. No questions. No reasons why.

I didn’t do so well with that.

To offer some perspective on my personality….During my senior year in college I went to an interview with American Airlines to be a flight attendant. I had to take a test to see if I’d fit their mold. What they wanted was someone who would do what they were told without asking questions. It made sense for an emergency, but I knew I was a bad fit. I ask things.

So much for traveling the world.

The church, however, hasn’t been in a crisis that prevented them from explaining the why’s–or maybe it has been–a crisis of willful ignorance founded in indoctrination. And that is precisely why I think so many young adults are leaving the church as soon as they can. There’s no foundation. Just rules. And none of it makes sense.

The church says no drinking, yet Jesus made wine as his first miracle. He made it for a bunch of people who’d been drinking for days already.

The church says no dancing, yet David danced. Miriam danced. They didn’t dance provocatively, I agree, but David danced naked.

The church says be in the building every Sunday, but everywhere we look in the Bible we see people gathering with believers… in homes, along the road… on Saturday.

The church says WWJD, but then says He did away with the entire law that He lived out fully. Don’t follow those Biblical laws that Jesus followed, follow ours that are nowhere in Scripture.

Then the church says the Scripture is our sole authority.

Contradiction much?

It’s no wonder why young people leave the church! The Bible doesn’t contradict itself–the church contradicts the Bible.

The Bible doesn't contradict itself nearly as much as the church contradicts the Bible. Click To Tweet

When I was a kid, I craved boundaries, actual rules, but I wanted rules with reason. I wanted to understand them. I was never one to blindly follow anyone. Yet, that’s all the church offered me.

Rules without reason.

The church never once offered me an explanation beyond “because the Bible says so,” even when the Bible didn’t say so.

Yet, it’s still possible I could have been ok with that answer, if they’d taken that approach with all of Scripture… you know, our sole authority.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and I began to find teachers of the Word who actually offered reason, and no surprise, I found many of those same teachers obeying God’s Biblical laws as well.

As they began offering reason and logic and science to support the laws of the Bible, my eyes lit up! My mind and spirit and body engaged together and I began to seek God, His Word, His ways, Him!

I began to see truth and reason in God’s perfect Design for sex within marriage–a blood covenant which literally knits a man and a woman together, leaving traces of his DNA in her brain.

My mind and spirit and body engaged together and I began to seek God, Click To Tweet

I began to see God’s Design for foods that nourish, both plants and animals, as well as certain animals that were never meant to be food, but rather the garbage collection of the world.

I began to see God’s Design in the energy being released all around me, you, and everything on this earth. Things God created emitted energy that was good, man-made things most often emit energy that drains our own and can leave us sick.

Wine? It was given by God, created as a blessing. Just read scripture and you’ll see that. While anything in excess can be bad, wine itself is no more harmful than bread and actually can offer health benefits in addition to making you glad, as scripture recommends.

God made the earth and us. He gave us the instruction manual. He commanded us to not add to it or to take away anything from it.

Matthew 5:17-19 — Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Emphasis mine)

Israel added laws and made it a burden but God says His law is not a burden. Yet, today we’ve added manmade laws, removed God’s laws and we think we’ve got our salvation in the bag because of Jesus. Yes, my righteousness and yours are only in Jesus. But God’s Word says if we love God we obey Him. (John 14:15,23)

It’s time we stop weighing people down with tradition and manmade laws while ignoring God’s. It’s a mixed message and it’s failing our youth who are questioning, thinking and choosing their belief systems in our churches.

But, shame on you! You load people down with rules and you yourselves don’t even obey them. (Paraphrased from Luke 11:46)

Yes, the Pharisees thought their rules mattered too. They may have even started off well-intentioned, but they weren’t God’s. I’m sure when our churches teach against drinking alcohol it comes from a place of wanting to spare people from a life of drunkenness and addiction, but it’s not the wine that’s the problem, it’s the gluttony and there is a law for that already.

It’s easy to look around and in one breath acknowledge that all God made is good, and in another think we can improve upon it. We add to His Design, and that’s not ok with Him.

In the beginning was the Word! The Word being Jesus, the Word being His instructions, the Word being our marriage contract. And in the beginning He declared it all, “very good.”

  1. Mike Cole says

    Christians want change, want a deeper walk, want a revival of sorts…but only if it fits into the box of what they know and the regular “church”. But revolution is what is needed and it doesn’t fit and can’t fit into our boxes of comfort.
    And as far as the wine example: no wine isn’t evil. But our actions are not to be based on those types of things. Our actions are to be based on love. Based on how what we do effects others in our society. As when Paul said that he would not eat meat sacrificed to idols or drink wine ever again if it causes someone to stumble. The meat like the wine was not evil. Unlike the society of Jesus’ day, our society highly glamorises getting drunk. So because of this and the fact that there are so many closet drunks in our society, I do not drink so that I may not cause others to stumble. What does a beverage really mean to me? It’s the law of love. It’s not about my rights and what I should be able to do. It’s about others.

    1. Sharon Butler says

      Thank you for your comment. You are correct. It is about love and I agree about not causing others to stumble. The issue, the sin, is gluttony which is rarely addressed in church. In fact it may be endorsed based on the donuts I see so often in church. A glass of wine won’t cause someone to stumble unless that persons belief system is based on churches falsely saying it’s wrong to have a glass of wine, and all the while not addressing the sin of gluttony in all it’s forms. If an unbeliever sees a believer in sin it does hurt everyone but if we aren’t calling Gods sins sin and we are creating our own rules we’re confusing the matter for the seeker.

      1. Mike Cole says

        Causing people to stumble is a sin. Paul says this. I’ve known pastors and plenty of church people with drinking problems. So if I can help them by my example, as Paul said he would never do it again if need be, then that is what I do.
        Gluttony is sadly accepted and promoted in western Christianity, along with many other sins. But the issue of alcohol in our society does stand on its own. Which is why Paul mentions it separately from the meat issue and why he did not just call it gluttony.

        1. Sharon Butler says

          I just took a moment to refresh my memory and was unable to find Paul writing he would never drink wine again except something of that sort in verse 21. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.[a]. Interestingly the meat clearly refers to that sacrificed to idols so why are we presuming the wine is not consecrated via idol worship? He also tells Timothy to drink wine. I don’t really mind people choosing to not drink. The point of the article was the church adding it’s own rules to God’s law then rejecting God’s laws. It’s a mixed message. It’s dangerous. And that itself is a sin.

          1. Mike Cole says

            Agreed that it is a mixed message. And is a sin.
            And no there was never a mention of the wine being consecrated to idols. What we tend to do is search the bible to support what we want or already believe. Paul clearly states in multiple places that his actions were based on love for others not his rights or even wants. The meat sacrificed to idols was a cultural thing that we do not have here. But we do have alcohol glamorised and overused everywhere in our culture. Not to mention that they often mixed their wine with water then as well because they used it like a water purifier. These are the things we must think about. Our society needs this love in full so bad! We aim too low, we often seek our earthly rights, but we have eternal rights which far outweigh these man made earthly rights!! Have a great night!

          2. Mike Cole says

            Btw, some of the verses that I am referencing are 1 Corinthians 8: 9-13 and Romans 14: 15-21
            There are very strong words in here about our responsibility to others. We should embrace these things not seek reasons why we shouldn’t follow them in our society.
            These are examples of cultural sins. Like the head covering for women mentioned also in Corinthians. The men were told not to cover their heads anymore but the women were told to keep them covered. Because an uncovered head on a woman in that culture meant she was loose. So because of culture it was wrong for them at that time. We have many cultural things that we should heed too. Problem is they aren’t listed directly in the NT so we don’t look for them. It’s just about love not law. But love will take us past the law. The law of our land says I need to do certain things for my children. Have a certain amount of space, food, etc. But love goes so far beyond those laws! It’s the same with Christ!! 🙂

            Truth is when we lay down our lives in these ways more and more, we reap tremendous spiritual benefits!!

  2. Joella says

    David bercot wrote a book called “common sense” and in the book he says, the only way we can read the Bible honestly is if we have no church system or personal beliefs to defend. I find that to be so true. I really appreciate what you wrote and just want to say yet, that over and over it says in the Word, “if you love me keep my commandments”, basically love is obedience, obedience is love. They’re interchangeable. So important that we obey all of scripture and not add or subtract from it. God bless you.

    1. Sharon Butler says

      Thank you for your comment. Yes. It is so clear when you are willing to see. My husband and I often talk about how Jesus talked in riddles sometimes and we think it was just to weed out those who didn’t want to know. It’s so hard. We try to share, but many don’t want to see. “eyes to see… ears to hear.” God bless! And please subscribe!

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