His name was Fred, her name was Dee. They had two kids, one my brother’s age, one a few years younger than him. They were a cute family. Year’s later they would have another kid or two, I never really knew them. Fred was a cool guy; he encouraged me in different things. He was smart. He knew how to fix almost anything and he has patents on some pretty important stuff. But it was annoying as all get out when they came over to the house. You see, Fred and Dee were “Isolationists” not in the sense that they thought America shouldn’t be involved with the UN (although for all I know they did believe that), but they were isolationists in that they had a very strict moral code for how we were to keep oneself pure from the sin of the world. The women only wore skirts, dresses or coo lots. The boys didn’t wear shorts. That part wasn’t annoying (well, it was a for a little while when my dad agreed to sign on to the no shorts rule—but a friend, Bill H’s wife put me back in shorts by 6th grade), what was annoying was when they came over, they took over our house. T.V. was inherently evil… well the commercials were. When they came over we could watch sporting events and even some T.V. shows, but we couldn’t watch commercials. At first, they just asked to black out the T.V. during the commercial. Then they asked us to mute it too. Mind you this was before you had a “mute” button on your T.V. and we certainly didn’t have a remote. They could come over to the house and eat on Sunday’s but they couldn’t play outside.
That was kind of like another family we knew; his name was Peter, I honestly don’t remember her name. They had three kids, two boys and a girl. The boys were some of the slickest liars I’ve ever known. I don’t remember much about the girl. They called each other weird names and talked a lot about God’s anger at the world. They couldn’t play outside on Sunday’s either. They were really strict on things like clothes and music, and T.V. but not so much on what was said when Peter was angry. He could yell, and even hit his kids with his fists or open palms because God put him in charge of the family. It’s not that I think Fred or Peter were bad people, they were probably sincere people. They wanted to keep their families protected from the evils of this world. They had their flaws, I’m sure.
The biggest flaw was they missed the point of the gospel. They failed to realize that it wasn’t the skirt, or the commercial, or playing on Sunday. They failed to realize that keeping the O out of G-D doesn’t make them any more spiritual. They failed to realize that “building buffers” so that they could stay extra far away from the polluting sin of the world. Legalism never works. Isolation works even less often. Those being isolated either rebel and go nuts or slowly die a painful soul killing death that robs them of what God created for them.
Fred’s family imploded. Literally exploded, came apart at the seams. Wife, kids, the whole 9 yards. Divorced now, maybe remarried, I don’t know. Funny though, the standards are different. I don’t know what happened with Peter’s family. They left our little town of heavenly abode spreading a swath of destruction and devastation in their wake.They blew up lives, just like the Pharisees before them.
In the end, the question becomes do you focus on what you’re not going to do, or what you are going to do? I find it interesting when Jesus gives an entire summation of the law he talks about what we’re supposed to do. Love God with everything, and love our neighbor. He gives us pro-active verbs. He doesn’t tell us to dress our women up in coo lots, and a list of don’t do this or that. He doesn’t even get into the Calvinism/Free will debate. He just says, “LOVE GOD, and LOVE OTHERS.” Maybe Jesus believes that love wins.