Redrawing the Lines

lineA favorite fundy illustration is imagining that God’s laws are like a line drawn in the sand and that breaking a law is crossing that line. Not content to leave well enough alone, the fundamentalist then goes on to add this inevitable statement: “A lot of you like to stand with your toes right on the line when you should be as far away from the line as possible. Let me tell you where I think you should draw the line…”

But it does not end there. Not only must one re-draw the line, one must then build an impenetrable wall on the new line and shoot anyone who attempts to cross it. One must fortify this wall with obscure passages and long-winded preaching rants full of illustrations of those who crossed the line to their own doom. This is known as having “standards.”

In time, one may forget entirely that this line isn’t the one God drew at all. In fact, some may even decide to draw another even further afield, rejecting those who hold a different line as being too worldly.

Fundies aren’t the first ones to indulge in this kind of thing, however. Jesus even had a few things to say about some old-school line re-drawers. For details, check out Matthew 23.

14 thoughts on “Redrawing the Lines”

  1. I remember the exact location and setting where a youth group leader stood at the threshhold between the kitchen and the dining room of another leader’s house and said, “This is the line, but do you want to be standing right here with your toes this close to the line?” Then he jumped into the living room and said, “Or do you want to stand back here somewhere…safe from that line?”

    And that is why I believe in grace-only salvation today…

  2. If God defines what is and what is not sin, then breaking a redrawn standard is not sin.


    If breaking a redrawn standard is sin, then the person defining that standard as sin is playing God.

    Self-righteous religeous leaders playing God caused me to leave the fundies after 45 years on the inside.

    I saw religeous manipulation instead of love.
    I saw a consuming fear of “evil” instead of faith in God.

  3. I have to agree. I found it to be tiring that there were so many redrawn lines, for example…when we got the sex talk at church the line was drawn at “if you hold hands you’re in sin!” I remember kids freaking out when someone was kissed. And it got only worse the older a person was.
    When I joined Bethany(a church that has baptist leanings) I didn’t know this, but singletons weren’t even allowed to go on dates alone with people. We had to have a chaperone. But all the bible told us was to 1) not soil the marriage bed(whatever that means…i think it means no sex until marriage) and 2) flee from immortality. Where in was handholdling immoral?!

  4. We are all fleeing from immortality.

    (I know that was a typo, but I laughed and laughed and laughed at this).

  5. It’s fine to have stricter rules for yourself if you know you’ll be tempted– some people prefer not to eat at restaurants that serve alcohol, some avoid being alone with the opposite sex, etc. But when you start thinking that everyone has to follow your exact strict rules and that anyone not like you is an immoral, sinful person getting dragged down by the world’s pleasures, that’s where you have a problem. Also if you think the stricter your standards the more spiritual a person you are, that’s wrong. One misses the focus on the Lord when they focus on themselves and how they look to other people.

  6. yeah Chrystal I totally blow at spelling.
    I understand the making stricter rules for yourself, but that isn’t the case with these folks. They want to do it for everyone. Complete with christian burkas.

  7. Well, the moving line shakes our whole delusion. And if I have to rely on the discernment of the Holy Spirit instead of a rule, it takes away my ability to judge others, for to their own Master they stand or fall.

  8. This post and the “Doing Your Best” post sum up the problems with fundamentalism perfectly. If I could please have them printed out in a um . . . tract (!) to hand out to family/friends to explain everything, that would be swell.

  9. “Drawing the Lines” puts me in mind of that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he marks a line in the sand and dares Yosemite Sam to cross. Which the other does, and Bugs draws another one and says, “Then I dare you to step over that one!” and the next one, and the next one, and the next one… 😛

  10. Brief and to the point. Excellent post still. Anyone’s attempt to “put a hedge about Torah” makes me really angry. As other posters have noted, this act, which has the appearance of piety (heh), is truly the assertion of the hedger’s authority over that of God Himself. Not to mention that for Christians it completely subverts the Grace-soaked message of the Gospel – it isn’t that we are sinners, so we better try harder to please God!

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