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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Breaking the Rules (08/16/04)

TITLE: The Problem With Breaking The Rules
By Roger Crane


Breaking the rules is fun! Breaking the rules can even be exhilarating. I think that everyone enjoys getting away with something now and then. I remember well the thrill I got driving my first car, a sky blue Dodge 440 convertible, down a two-lane country highway at 120 miles per hour. I don’t know about women, but men get a peculiar thrill out of breaking rules and, in particular, breaking them in a car. Maybe that is why men can seem to fall in love with cars so easily, and why women don’t appear to understand it.

We could talk all day about breaking the rules, and how much fun that can be. However, as everyone knows, there is a flip side to that record. It was only a few moments after I hit my top speed of 120 in my new convertible that I furtively glanced in the mirror, and looked all around, to see if there were any black and white cars in the vicinity. Yep, that’s the problem with breaking the rules: The consequences. And, way before the consequences, there is the fear of getting caught. The plain fact is, breaking the rules is troublesome!

Oh, I know that saying: “There’s an exception to every rule.” But, that’s not the same thing at all. When we know that we shouldn’t do something that we want to do, a tension is created which is not easy to resolve. It is very hard for most of us to go against our feelings--especially when we’re young. How do we learn to keep the rules?

I think it is only when those abstract values of right and wrong move out of the speculative realm for us--or that pigeonhole where we keep those things which others have told us are right or wrong--and into the concrete arena of experience that we truly know the right and are able act upon it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we have to try every negative thing to know that it is wrong for us. But, when we learn by experience that there are objects of desire which are ultimately harmful to us, or to others, then we begin to appreciate those standards which previously had only been theoretical entities in our cosmos. When we discover that our consciences are in alignment with the “law” (often the law of man, but originating in the Word of God), then we begin to see that there is an absolute right and wrong, and we experience the internal sentence of guilt, which we pass on ourselves for breaking faith with ourselves.

Maybe this all sounds too matter of fact. There are people who don’t seem to have a conscience, and those who believe in “relative truth,” a kind of “each to his own” philosophy. And, most humans do have trouble consistently keeping rules that they say they agree with. My point is that we cannot keep any rules which we see as theoretical. We must have what I call a source of authority, and it must have an absolute value in our very being. The only absolute authority I know of is the Word of God. When we find that “law” written in our hearts, then we are able to be true to ourselves, not merely to duplicate behavior which we know pleases others. As the poet Don Juan said:

“To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Could this be why God has allowed man to choose his own way? Isn’t this the same reason that parents sometimes allow their children to make mistakes?

When you come to the place where breaking the rules no longer holds its fascination, because you’ve been on the other side of that paradigm one too many times, something curious happens. You find a liberating freedom in doing just what you know is right; no need to look over your shoulder.

This takes a long time, but the quest is worth it. The truth is that the fun of rule breaking is only for a moment; the pain may last forever. Likewise, the joy of obedience can last an eternity.

Member Comments
Member Date
Lucian Thompson08/24/04
Roger, I loved the way you ended this. I enjoyed your article.
Kenny Paul Clarkson08/24/04
I agree with our good friend Ned on two points. Only.

The paragraph sounds a bit like "See Tom. See Jane. See Spot." etc.

While the body of the article may miss robust creative style, the content is sound and well organized. That's neither good, nor bad, but a matter of taste.

I see nothing wrong, here. It's more "good stuff."

The second point is: Other articles are fine as well.

Roberta Kittrell08/26/04
Granted, Our Precious Lord and Savior sees all of us saved persons as being clothed in His righteousness. From our viewpoint, we view ourselves as "saved sinners". My husband, who was a retired pastor when I met him and married him, always said that, as long as we had the flesh, we would sin. When he crossed over to Glory, the flesh and the sin-nature were left behind because of God's grace.

Women, too, can like cars that can fly low and can appreciate the thrill. I am becoming more and more concious that, the one I am con-cerned the most about--the Lord--knew even before I knew it that His permissive Will was going to let me stray.

To me, just the hurt look I imagine would be in His eyes after I had done the wrong, is becoming more and more enough to squelch most desire to break any rules or do wrong.
L.M. Lee08/26/04
You find a liberating freedom in doing just what you know is right; no need to look over your shoulder

great conclusion! This is the point when we finally grow up!
Deborah Porter 10/12/04
Hi Roger. Not sure if you got my private message or not, but if not, please contact me urgently about this Editors' Choice winning article at debporter@breathfreshair.org This is absolutely vital if your article is going to be included in the next FaithWriters anthology.

With love, Deb (Challenge Co-ordinator)