Is Grey OK?

Things are very different now from when I grew up. As we age we all can see that. I have to smile when I hear my oldest sons make such observations. As time passes more and more gizmos become something “we just can’t live without.”

Also certain behaviours emerge, are allowed, and then eventually become the norm. In the early 1900’s women could not vote, but in 1918 they gained the franchise. By 1945 most homes had a landline phone and by 1950 televisions too. Still my mom loved her Toronto Telegram for staying up to date and connected but it too fell by the wayside in 1971. She could be found sitting in bed every night devouring each page with the bobby pins and rollers in place, that is, until the modern curling iron took over. I expect at least she slept better after that.

Gadgets and gizmos are one thing but how about societal norms and shifts in attitude. In my mother’s day children didn’t speak unless spoken to. At home spanking was accepted without question or fear of reprisal until about the 1970’s, and even teachers administered “the rod of correction.” Earlier men’s long unkempt hair was not only unfashionable but unsightly- “Long-haired, freaky people need not apply…” (Signs-Five Man Electrical Band) When I was a girl all the ladies wore a hat to church and men removed their fedoras as soon as they entered the sanctuary, kind of an odd reversal when you think about it. Certain subjects like abortion were never discussed at all. It was widely felt that unwed young mothers had disgraced themselves and their families. In many places mixed marriages and homosexuality were against the law.

Yet our North American culture has shifted. Previously accepted norms changed wherever the strongest emphasis was exerted, and the pressure was applied. Our thinking evolved and morphed in new perspectives.

We have certainly moved on down the road and I wonder sometimes if we are doing better in some areas than in others. In hindsight some things we adhered to were clearly inherently wrong such as segregation or residential schools yet not so long ago they were broadly accepted. Are we so easily led? Is there currently anything that I blindly adhere to and accept as the norm without any thought whatsoever?

I also wonder about the laws and guideposts set out in the Bible. “Thou shalt not” still holds great sway over our society and rightly so. I believe most of you would agree. Yet many areas have become very grey.

We understand that the period in which the Bible was written was extremely different of course and remembering the context is of great relevance. People owned people and women didn’t hold any sort of seat of authority at all, inside or outside the church. Punishment for lawbreaking was public and very harsh. It seems to be disproportionate to the modern day reader but that’s how it was back then.

But what about the other shifts? For example, do we “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy?” That one is no big deal, right? It’s just a suggestion. I mean I work all week so Sunday is my time to grocery shop and get caught up on the household chores. God sees my situation and knows my heart so I’m sure He is good with me on that score. It’s just not as important as the others like,”Thou shalt not kill.” Or what about “Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie)?” Some people lie so much they believe it themselves and feel they are justified in doing so. Others steal and claim they don’t feel it is stealing because it’s just one little thing and it won’t be missed. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”-wow, now that one takes some honest deep soul searching. By the way, The Ten Commandments can be found in Exodus 20:2-17.

Well, you get my point. There are many more profound Biblical points that we shape and prune to our liking. We seem to pick and choose what applies to us twisting and modifying them to the extent that we don’t want to talk about them. It’s too uncomfortable. So we decide what ones work for us and what ones don’t and then we convince ourselves that God surely created them with more emphasis on some than on others…ummm, except that I can’t find that rationale anywhere in the Bible. We accept them for ourselves as OK because of course we all know times have changed.

I don’t know about this. Most, if not all, of God’s directives are pretty black and white, aren’t they? So are we deluding ourselves? Might this be a very slippery slope we’re on? Is grey ok?

The Bible also says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever….” Hebrews 13:8

What do you think?