The Spirit vs The Letter

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I have had a few conversations over the last couple of days about rule following.  What does it mean to follow the rules? What is the line between the letter and spirit of the law? How do we determine this? What is the impact on our spiritual lives? What if following the letter of the law causes injury? What if following the spirit of the law is just our way of undermining authority? These are the questions that have been batted around in my world. These conversations have been stimulating and interesting. I am not sure though if we have dealt with the issue well.

I think that the biggest question that needs to be dealt with is that of determination.  How do we determine when to set aside the letter of the law in favor of its spirit?  This line is gray.  There is no ideal or final answer in my opinion.  However, I think there are some principles that we can follow.

  1. In following the spirit of the law are we negating the law completely?
  2. In following the spirit of the law are we taking seriously the reasons for the law?
  3. In following the spirit of the law are we doing so for our own selfish gain?
  4. In following the spirit of the law are we simply not willing to accept the consequences for breaking the law?

These questions are the ones that I believe need to be answered as we try to determine when we are indeed following the spirit of the law as opposed to simply breaking the law.  If we can answer these questions appropriately then we are indeed in line with an ethically acceptably response to the law.

What say you? How do you determine whether or not you are in step with the spirit of the law?

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