As an editor, I follow rules on a daily basis – namely the Chicago Manual of Style rules. Although many authors like to think they aren’t following “rules” – everyone likes to think they’re writing something completely unique and “out of the box” – most authors are following rules each time they write. Whether it be rules from a style manual or simply writing rules that include story structure with rising and falling action, writers do follow some kind of rules when they put pen to paper.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecc. 1:9 NIV)
But all too often in our world today, we see people not wanting to follow rules of any kind. They “buck” the system by saying, “This is my truth and I will live my way.” Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be unique. Everyone wants to do it their way. Everyone wants to just be left alone. But there still needs to be rules of some sort.
This past Sunday, our pastor started a series on the Ten Commandments and he made a comment that people don’t like to be commanded. I tend to agree. (I didn’t enter the armed forces for this very reason even though I’m, pretty much, a rule follower.) He also mentioned that people tend to see the Ten Commandments as a set of unfair rules doled out by God when, in actuality, they are provided for our own safety and protection.
These commandments are much like the ordinary rules in our own life.
*giant pause here*
I must confess, I tried to give you a list of these “ordinary rules” that I believed everyone follows here, but I couldn’t come up with more than two. Rules today seem to be considered on an individual basis. Although I think most would agree that murder is still wrong, there are murderers in our world. Plus, we bend that rule when in the midst of war. Although I would believe most people to believe raping a child is wrong, define “child.” Is it under 18? Under 16? Less than 100 years ago, our ancestors married off daughters at the age of 14 (and sometimes younger). Many had children before the age of 16. So when did that rule change? And why? I could only come up with one “firm” rule: we all stop on red and go on green. I don’t think there would be anyone who would argue that one. (Although, I could be wrong!)
As I continue to contemplate these issues – and the fact that so many people have so many different opinions – it makes me both sad and introspective. This lack of what rules are “standard” is probably why so many people are offended so easily today. I’m often saddened when people argue in such an ugly manner on social media. It’s a breaking down of our society as a whole when we can’t simply agree to disagree. (And it also is a real double standard if you want your rules but won’t let me have mine. But I digress….)
I follow the Bible’s rules for most things (and this was our pastor’s point this past Sunday), but there are a LOT of things that simply can’t be so black and white (like murder and other issues I’ve mentioned). The rules of the world are not always as simple as my Chicago Manual of Style rules. There are things in this world certainly more in-depth and complicated than whether or not to use two spaces after a period. (DO NOT use two spaces in fiction.)
I think it’s worth considering and discussion because our world seems to have gotten so far away from any standard consensus on rules and it is making us fight each other on a daily basis. It makes living life that much harder, when it’s already really hard. And it certainly isn’t what God intended for us. I know I’m certainly going to begin praying about it and paying more attention to it as the year goes on and I hope you’ll do the same. Even if we all can’t agree on hard and fast rules, I pray we can start to find middle ground and agree on much more moving forward.
I’d love to know your thoughts. God bless.