Posted by: SandreS | June 12, 2013

Flying in the Face of Social and Religious “Mores”

There are many customs or “mores”[1] that press people into bondage. Jesus Christ strongly opposed the traditions of His day.

In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9).

Making the Word of God of no effect through your traditions (Mark 7:13).

An example of such a tradition was the Jewish custom of ceremoniously washing their hands before they ate. This washing was not a sanitary action, for health reasons. This was a “moral” ritual – a “baptism” – that was socially recognized by all of that day. It was said that “all the Jews” practiced this “tradition of the elders” (Mark 7:3).

Well, all but the disciples of Jesus Christ. As His followers they had been taught and led into the truth regarding religious traditions and mores. Since “all the Jews” observed this, their eating with “morally” defiled hands was an extremely intentional act. For them not to ceremonially wash their hands was quite bold and deliberate. This flew in the face of social and religious mores.It spoke loudly, and the Pharisees heard it. They addressed Christ directly concerning the actions of His followers.

Why aren’t your disciples walking according to the tradition of the elders, but are eating bread with unwashed hands? (:5).

The stage was now perfectly set. Christ does not apologize for the offensive action of His followers, nor does He make any attempt to soothe the moral sensitivities of His objectors. Instead, He uses the uncouth actions of disciples to brashly confront the evils of the religious and social traditions of His times. Listen to His astonishingly powerful words:

Rightly prophesies Isaiah concerning you hypocrites, as it is written, that “This people with their lips is honoring Me, Yet their heart is far away from Me. Yet in vain are they worshiping Me, teaching for teachings the directions of men.” For, leaving the precept of God, you are holding the tradition of men of the baptism of pots and cups. And many such like things you are doing. Rightly are you repudiating the precept of God, that you should be keeping your tradition? (:6-9).

Christ rightly called them “hypocrites.” He said that they honored God with their lips, but that their hearts were far from Him. He said their worship was vain. He said that they had left and repudiated the precept of God.

We take too lightly the customs, mores and traditions of men. We wrongly view them as harmless. They are extremely dangerous. They are one of the greatest foes of truth.

Yet be forewarned, the pathway against such tradition will not be easy. The religious will oppose a life free from the bondage of religious tradition. Most of the hostility will likely come from your closest friends and family members who are blinded by these very traditions of men, traditions from which you seek and have found freedom.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.


[1]The accepted traditional customs and usages of a particular social group. — American Heritage Dictionary

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