Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rules

It's going to be a rehash, probably. I've already mused about R rated movies and the pros and cons of following strict guidelines vs. the "spirit of the law". But watching States of Grace brought the subject back to mind again.

A powerful line in the movie was when Elder Farrell was reluctant to take Louis into their apartment and Elder Lozano says, "Do you want to follow the rules or follow the commandments?" Here's a place where there seems to be no room for argument. Disregarding the rules seems to be unavoidable to really be a follower of Christ.

Later in the film, after Elder Farrell had sex, I couldn't help but imagine to myself that the course of events that led to him being enamored with Holly all started because they disregarded the rules. Had they not started having roof-top family dinners and hanging out with Louis and Holly (Elder Lozano mainly talking with Louis and Elder Farrell left essentially alone for romantic heart-to-hearts with Holly), it probably wouldn't have happened.

I can already imagine some consternation... "What do you want them to do, L? Leave Louis in the street to freeze to death? Oh, yeah, murder's a lot better than losing your chastity!" But, my point is precisely that they could have kept the rules and still rescued Louis. Rationalizing things here and there leaves us open to embracing false dilemmas when we're not paying attention. They could have had him in the house that night, then found an alternative arrangement when he was better... or gotten permission... or called an ambulance... or whatever.

Ought one to follow or be self-sufficient in winging it? Are there ever any really easy answers?

7 comments:

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

I had very similar thoughts when I saw States of Grace. It's really hard to know where to draw the line sometimes. I used to think that everything was a black and white issue and that there were no grey areas. Really, I think thats where grace comes in and why we are saved by grace. The world is flawed and that was the way it was meant to be. It provides us with the perfect environment to learn to exercise our agency for the betterment or the detrament of ourselves. Good post.

-Cas

Elbow said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I just wanted to say that I love how passionate you get about things like this, it's really fun. You're fun!

santorio said...

so you, or the movie, is saying that playing loose with the rules in order to obey a higher principle leads to playing loose with other rules with unwanted consequences. the ol' slippery slope.

fair enough, but what about:

'the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath'

you can turn this into all kinds of slippery slopes:

---the earth and its resources were made for man not man for the earth

---sex was made for man not man for sex

don't blame lozano's good acts for farrell's errors

-L- said...

Sorry, I don't really follow your reasoning there. One slippery slope doesn't justify another. And one good act on Lozano's part, doesn't mean he wasn't still responsible for his companion. As the mission president said, it's not his fault. Placing blame is not too productive. But, he could have helped increase the likelihood that Farrell's mistake never happened if he hadn't been so "loose" with the rules.

Beck said...

There was a rule in our mission that no one other than missionaries was allowed in the apartment. But in my last months, the mission president softened this to "no women" for obvious reasons. But this opened the door to have "men" in the apartment. And this opened the door to SSA guys in the apartment with an SSA missionary. And this led to more casual relations between said guy and said missionary - out in the open - which then led to...

True story. MY true story. There is something to this, though I don't regret a thing!

-L- said...

So, whatever comes after those provocative ellipses is nothing to regret? I'm glad!

Beck said...

Provacative, yes... pushing the limits of propriety, yes... discovering new feelings and sensations, yes... regrets, no!