The rules at my school were originally instituted back in the 1960’s when many young people were rebelling against authority. At that time the university was known as a beacon of light because of the moral conduct and behavior it required and promoted. But good behavior and moral conduct were not the only requirements. Male students were forbidden to wear beards or blue jeans; female students had to wear skirts to class and the cafeteria. Curfew was strictly enforced. Drinking and dancing were not allowed.
By the time I arrived in 1998, much of the justification for the rules had worn thin. Students chaffed under the restrictions. Every year, the students would petition to wear blue jeans, and every year they were denied. When the students asked why they could not wear blue jeans, they were told, “Because that’s the rule.”
The rule that most frustrated the young men at my university was a ban on facial hair. Student leaders would roam the campus and if they saw a male student with the beginnings of a beard they would force him to go back to the dorms to shave. One day, a chapel speaker was preaching about maintaining standards of holiness. He had us turn in our Bibles to Leviticus 19:28 and used the verse to preach about how bad it is to get a tattoo. As we read the verse he was preaching from, my eyes wandered to the verse right above which forbids the Israelites to shave their beards. I remember being struck by the fact that the school chose to follow some verses from the Law while rejecting other verses.
Many people think that they can pick and choose what parts of the Law to obey. The book of Leviticus (part of the Law of Moses) tells us that it is wrong to eat pork, shrimp, or lobster, and that it is wrong to wear poly-blend cotton, work on the Sabbath, charge interest, or shave your beard. Also, every man must be circumcised, and women must not cut their hair. Do you know anyone who follows all these laws?
Altogether, the Law encompasses the Ten Commandments and various other civil, moral, dietary, and sacrificial laws. No one manages to keep all of these laws. Some choose to only follow the Ten Commandments. Others choose to ignore the dietary laws, but they follow the moral laws. Animal sacrifices are decidedly outdated. Everyone picks and chooses the rules they want to keep.
So, which sins are “acceptable” and which are “unacceptable?” Many point to the sins of others as being horrible, but they excuse their own sins. They say, “My own sins deserve grace, but the sin of that man (pointing a finger) are beyond the pale;” or “It is forgivable for me to lie sometimes, but for a homosexual to engage in unnatural acts with his body is really sinful.” Matthew Barnett tweeted, “People who make a list of what sins are worse than others rarely have theirs in the Top Ten.”
Look at what Paul said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9- 10). According to this verse, adultery and coveting my neighbor’s new car are just as wrong as homosexuality.
In the end, a little of the Law is as powerful as the whole Law. As Paul said, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). If you put a little bit of yeast into your dough, it will affect the entire loaf. In the same way, a little Law has a big impact on your salvation. Even if you keep ninety-nine out of one hundred laws, by breaking one you are guilty of breaking all of them. Either you are perfectly perfect in every requirement of the Law, or you need a Savior.