Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Boundaries as Arbitrary Guidelines

In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the governor’s daughter Elizabeth tries to negotiate the safety of her city with some pirates. When negotiations go sideways, Elizabeth points out it is a violation of the Pirate’s Code. To this, the captain replies, “First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate’s code to apply and you’re not. And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” (Captain Barbossa, The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

This quote perfectly embodies the first common view of boundaries: That the rules may or may not apply, and if they get in my way, they are easily dispensed with. After all, I should be able to do whatever I want, however I want, whenever and wherever I want, all without consequences…right?

As you might suspect, such an attitude can have deep and profound effects on the person who holds it. They often believe that they can read and watch anything they wish—it’s just entertainment. Besides, there is good in all things, so mustn’t all things be good?

These people also like to quote verses like, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20 NIV) As for tradition, it’s just another form of legalism, and rules only create Pharisees. Forgiveness, on the other hand, means the eradication of consequences. 

Like so many things in this world, this view mixes truth and fallacy. Yes, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins when we confess them (1 John 1:9), but this forgiveness doesn’t eradicate all consequences, as revealed by the death of the son of King David, despite his repenting of his adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:13-18).

Yes, we are saved by grace and grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but grace was never intended to be an excuse to keep sinning (Romans 6:1-2). Such an attitude reveals a warped understanding of grace at best, while a true knowledge of grace propels us toward a life of holiness.

 Yes, there is good in almost everything—but that doesn’t mean it is good for us! By that reasoning you should be able to drink arsenic without effect as long as you mix it with a protein shake.

 Yes, much of our media is created to entertain, but entertainment doesn’t eliminate the possibility of impact. Actually, just the opposite! Entertainment provides a backdoor past our normal defenses, and I’ve yet to meet a storyteller—Christian or secular—who doesn’t hope to use that backdoor to influence you.

So yes, God grants us freedom, but He didn’t give us that freedom to indulge in our own desires. Rather, we are to use it to do good and serve Him. (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16)

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