It seems to be a human phenomenon to always try to view the world in right or wrong, black or white. The unfortunate thing is that the world does not work that way. The world really works in shades of grey. The world is complex and people are complex. One size never fits all.
We set up rules for good reasons. They exist to keep order, promote justice, and ensure peace. The problem is when the same rules that were put there to protect us, turn into weapons used to harm us. This seems to be the constant issue with Jesus and the pharisees. They followed the rules to a tee, but to a point of using them to harm others.
We have rules about a lot of things. We have rules that govern nudity, sexuality, and behavior. Although some have been codified into law, these rules are general enforces socially more than legally. These rules were begun for good reasons, but sometimes they can be problematic.
The first problem with rules is that sometimes they are outdated. For instance, despite what society does in reality, there is still an understanding that sex is for marriage. We know that few people actually wait until marriage to have sex, but at some level, we still expect them to. Where did this notion come from? It's not really in the Bible; it's a social norm. Several hundred years ago, this made a lot of sense. People reached puberty around age 15, and got married around age 17. After that, one could expect a long and full life of 45 years. On top of that, there was little effective birth control. So for a number of reasons, waiting until marriage to have sex made a lot of sense. And, it made little sense to have sex when not married. Today, due to environmental factors, puberty has been pushed up by two or three years, and marriage has been pushed back 10 to 15 years. This leaves a person with twenty years between sexual maturity and marriage. With effective birth control now, it makes little sense for people to wait until marriage. And yet, the rule persists.
The second problem with rules is that they are applied equally to all people. This is fine, but what happens when a person is inevitably exceptional? Going back to our marriage and sex rule, that leaves out a significant chunk of the population. No rules even exist for those who are gay or bi, so the have to be improvised, and excluded from sex altogether. This isn't even realistic. "It's ok to be gay, and not just act gay" is basically saying that you don't fit into our rule, so you have to become a square peg in a round hole for the sake of the rules.
The third problem is the lack of flexibility. Several months ago, televangelist (and, horrible human being) Pat Robertson recommended a man with a wife who had severe Alzheimer's should divorce his wife and remarry, so he could have a sexual outlet. This again assumes sex can only happen in marriage. In this case, it sacrifices the institution of marriage for the sake of keeping sex as a part of marriage. Could the rules not be bent for this man? Could he not have a sexual relationship, while maintaining care for his beloved spouse?
The example of sex in marriage is a powerful one, because people have had to bend and contort themselves for centuries in ways that are damaging to maintain this one. However, the problematic rules are not limited to this one. We are so rigid about immigration laws, that in the name of fairness, we break up families. We are so rigid about drug laws, that we have a disproportionate amount of poor and minority men in prison for minor offenses.
The worst part about seeing the world in black and white is that this promotes secrecy. This is where the rules hit home for me. Your friend Mack has a lot of secrets. You know most of my secrets, but you don't know a lot about me otherwise. I try to be as open as I can with as many people as I can, but I simply cannot be open about my whole self with the whole world. To fit into a black and white world, I cannot be who I am. Being married and bisexual carries a societal stigma. Being a nudist carries a societal stigma. These are social liabilities, and they are professional liabilities. Because I must fit into a black and white world, I cannot live honestly in those shades of grey.
I have been blogging for well over a year now, and I feel like I have developed good friendships through my blogging. I have been able to reconcile and explore an awful lot of who I am by the feedback I get and reading about others' experiences. But, to a certain degree, I'm in the same place I was last March. Last week, I was talking to my therapist about my frustrations with these things and she pointed out to me that in the time she's been seeing me, nothing has changed. I am still frustrated with my attraction to men, and I have no outlet, nor a sign of one. I have to live in fear that someone will find out that I walk naked in the woods, or that the nice guy you know at work turns out to be the one spilling his guts on this blog.
The rules that I live by are stifling, and as much as I would like to find an out, I just cannot see where that is. Either, I break the rules, or they will break me. I have to live somewhere in the grey. I am a human being, who is complex and not rigid. My needs are different than yours and yours are different than the person sitting next to you. What do I do? Do I live by rules that are not made for me, or do I break them and be who I am?