June 21, 2008 by Stacy McDonald

Maniacs, Pharisees, and The Rest of Us

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Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” George Carlin

George Carlin may have been onto something when he made this statement. Even many Christians are guilty of using this type of illogic. Christian-ese for this quote might be:

“Anybody living a life that appears more “holy” than mine is a legalist and anybody using their Christian liberty in ways that I find “unbiblical” is a wretch.”

Even secular writers are noting this faulty logic. Sonny Scott “gets it!”

SONNY SCOTT: Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It’s a big family by today’s standards – “just like stair steps,” as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There’s no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied. Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are concerned for their children’s safety. Some want their children to be challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home
schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state’s bureaucrats on these “trouble makers.” Their implicit rejection of America’s most venerated idol, Materialism, (a.k.a. “Individualism”) spurs us to heat the furnace and feed the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. “A family just can’t make it on one income.” (Our parents did.) “It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays.” (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet, and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most significantly, we
claim “our right” to pursue a career for our own “self-fulfillment.”

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k’s. Credit cards are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is raising **** again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing his school work … and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Permission to reprint from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, Miss

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County and his e-mail address is sonnyscott@yahoo.com.

The following quote really got me. Though Mr. Scott beautifully proved his point (aimed at his secular, non-homeschooling audience), sadly it reminds me of those who claim the name of Christ, yet have this very attitude toward brothers and sisters who live out their convictions differently:

“…and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?”

And if you’ve ever been accused of being a legalist or a Pharisee for loving sound doctrine, defending pure worship, or simply living out your faith, you’ll want to read this article by Todd Wilken, Playing the Pharisee Card.

Hat tip to Father Hollywood for his article, Traditionalism is Not Legalism, which gave me a lot of food for thought.

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39 Responses to “Maniacs, Pharisees, and The Rest of Us”

  1. Persuaded says:

    Wow… that last quote is a bit jarring:( Not sure if I want to go read the whole article, it might not be good for my blood pressure, yipes!

    But yes, I have seen that exact attitude among Christians who have made different lifestyle choices- even a certain glee when a homeschooled child gets into trouble or falls off the straight and narrow road. God help me from being so self-righteous and judgmental… sadly, I know I have it in me:(

  2. L says:

    Great articles you’ve linked to.

    The last link “Hat tip to Father Hollywood for his article, Traditionalism is Not Legalism” takes me “Playing the Pharisee Card” same as the link above it “Todd Wilken, Playing the Pharisee Card.”

    I’m reading this as if these should be two different articles to two different links. Is your link wrong or am I reading this incorrectly?

    Thanks for bringing to light such thought-provoking and poignant articles.

    Recording the Faithfulness and Provision of God for Future Generations

  3. Tracy says:

    YES! Great post!

  4. HomemakerAng says:

    i am obviously on the homeschooling team as I homeschool and have a large family, but i think the article was misconstrued that it down talked to hschoolers. In his weird way, it seems that he was actually saying we do have much more than the status quo 2 working parents, etc. He “hates” us because we are the truly happy ones with the well behaved children… did i miss something?

  5. Anonymous says:

    We are the only homeschool family in our church. We are constantly defending our position, our God ordained beliefs, and our children’s day to day schedule (even though our school day is jam packed full of education, as opposed to the standing in line waiting for each activity to begin, wasting time…do you hear the sarcasm?) I grow very weary of the questions…although I am constantly told that our children are wonderful examples to the other children, are well behaved, and very mannerly. The same people who are critical of homeschoolers are the same people who compliment them!!! Can’t they see that if we send our well behaved children into the public school the outcome will be the same as the other public school children in our congregation?

    And as for the dresses…my boys don’t wear them…but I do! :)

    Thank you, for letting me vent! LOL
    Ruth, PA

  6. MandyMom.com says:

    I really enjoyed that article.. I read it… yesterday?.. I think. I love that it was posted in secular news. :)

  7. The Common Sense Mom says:

    I homeschooled for almost 3 years…I didn’t have the serene constitution that the article portrayed. Whenever I hear someone “downing” homeschooling I do my best to defend the right and lifestyle of a homeschooled family. My utmost respect for anyone who does, it is a commitment and devotion that not many have the talent to undertake!

  8. Kathy says:

    I have found that those Christians who find they must criticize more conservative “bents” than their own do so defensively. If they actually embraced the ideals of homeschooling, headship etc. then they would be admitting the failur of their evangelical system. Instead, they attack and label. Unfortunately, there is so much diversity in the conservative, homeschooling Christian environment, we too become guilty of labeling and attacking one another. We need to encourage one another so that our individual families led by our Godly husbands can thrive in a rather hostile environment.

  9. Jen says:

    I was surprised by the article. In his attempt to bash homeschoolers, I thought he made them look pretty good in the end. In my opinion, he made it seem like the kids who were not homeschooled spent no time with their parents, were spoiled with lots of materialistic toys, were constantly griping, and were unhappy. He made the parents look like they were maxed out financially, and stressed to the max. I wonder if he meant to do that, or if I just took the article the wrong way!

    As a homeschool mom of a 6 year old daughter, I know I am not the norm. I am actually not the norm even among homeschoolers because I have only one child, and most of the homeschoolers in our area have large families. I enjoy the freedom of homeschooling. I love that I can get up in the morning and not rush. I love that I don’t have to constantly be rushing my daughter to one activity after the other. I love the slower paced life. If that makes me “weird”, I’m fine with that. I know I am doing what God wants me to do!

  10. gloria says:

    Excellent blog post, Stacy. Got me thinking… and how careful we all need to be with another to allow one another liberty in living our lives as we feel the Lord dictates to us. We are not all the same and we each have our own values or set of core values. I am grateful we live in a nation that allows us to be unique or different or live according tou our conscious dictates.

    Excellent food for thought!


  11. Sherrin says:

    This blog post was such a help to me today. I’ve been struggling with wondering “Am I a Pharisee” and also struggling with the fact that if I am, I don’t know how to be anything else! I just can’t think that it is fine to use whatever birth control you like, swear, ignore your parents’ instruction, watch any movie that catches you eye (including those that contain explicit violence), go back to work when you have young children just because you feel like it, and countless other things I see around me. In some ways I wish I could think it was all just fine.

    I am hoping to do a serious study of exactly what Jesus did condemn the Pharisees for, so that I can understand what Jesus really did condemn.

    I think the article on homeschooling did stereotype homeschoolers. I actually know few here in Australia who quite fit that description! However, I’m sure there are many in the US. I think the author was writing as “we” in a collective societal sense, not arguing that he personally hates homeschoolers.

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Laralee,

    That should be fixed now! Thanks for the heads up!

  13. Stacy McDonald says:


    Yes, you are right; the writer was using a collective “we” -criticizing his own, so to speak. I found his article to be favorable toward homeschoolers – and I do believe that was his intention.

  14. Step says:

    Great articles!!! We don’t homeschool, but are considered against the norm nonetheless because we’re a conservative, Christian family living on one income (my husband works and I am a full-time homemaker). So much in those articles rang true.

  15. Katherine says:

    Thank you so much for posting these articles! Great!

  16. Sheila says:

    Wow, this was a great post, and, yeah, I thought Mr. Scott painted homeschoolers in a favorable light. (I didn’t look at the other links yet.) Thanks for provoking our thoughts again, Stacy!

  17. madame says:

    That’s an interesting article (Sonny Scott’s)

    But I have a problem with it. He only really addresses middle-class two parent families. There are a lot of single mothers out there working, stressed out, and just barely keeping things together. Some are married but functioning as single mothers because their husbands can’t hold a job down long enough to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. They “feel” shunned by traditional Christians because they aren’t living within the acceptable roles.
    There are also single mothers who have been abandoned or have fled from abuse.
    There are two parent families who can’t manage a semi-decent lifestyle unless the mother works outside of the home. (And they are scrimping and saving as much as possible).

    This author forgets that there are many families that don’t need the second income for luxuries but just to keep food on the table. Their shopping lists may be even more frugal than that of the homeschooling mom.

    I think we need more mercy, less judgment.

    We would all do well to remember God’s words to Micah
    8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

  18. Gina Marie says:

    I wonder if rampant “judgmentalism” is not only an emotional reaction to what we consider “holier than thou” or “liberal” and therefore we feel the need to criticize, but is also self-defense against victimization.

    For example, if you were raised in a traditonalist family with an outdated fashion sense, and this family/church was also responsible for deep psychological abuses, you would come to resent these outward signs and condemn them.

    Or, on the other hand, if you were raised with all the Christian “liberties”, attended a seeker sensitive church, and came out of your adolescence theologically bankrupt and without any sound teaching to stand upon, you’d come to resent “trendiness.”

    So some of it may be a self-defense against more pain. Instead of trusting God and allowing Him to use you as a tool of His love in the lives of the truly legalist and the truly unsaved, you play God by condemning the pharisees and the Gentiles in the same breath in order to avoid dealing with your own pain from a troubled past (I’m using second person pronouns in the general sense).

    That was just a tangent. I think that this article is spot on and refreshing. We hate what challenges us.

  19. Fiona says:

    This article reminds me of a joke my boyfriend made about drivers that are rude to cyclists (which we are) : “I think they all hate and envy us a bit because we’re out here exercising.”

    Its very human to pick at and despise something that may be seen as “better.” Look at how our culture obbsesses over mistakes made by the powerful (i.e. Eliot Spitzer).

  20. Terry says:

    This article (which I read yesterday) was intended as a compliment to homeschool families, was it not? At least that’s how I read it.

  21. Kelly says:


    Bless you for sharing that article. It’s such a timely topic in our culture and also one that has been on my heart recently (I just posted on legalism at my own blog last week). I think that there’s a definite difference between two Christians who love the Lord with their whole hearts but choose to serve Him in different ways and then people who do things for the sake of appearances, to have a holy look but are forgetting that Jesus comes before all of their actions.

    The article made me glad to see that it disspelled the common belieft that anyone who does a, b, and c in terms of being a Christian family is somehow a weirdo. People may serve the Lord however they choose, and it’s not society’s right to decide how best to do that. God’s call for each individual is priceless and beautiful.

  22. Stacy McDonald says:

    “This article (which I read yesterday) was intended as a compliment to homeschool families, was it not? At least that’s how I read it.”

    Yes, Tracy, it was a compliment. I believe it was a “rebuke,” so to speak, to his own secular,non-homeschooling audience. He was trying to make people examine their own reactions to homeschoolers. He was challenging people to think and I thought he did an excellent job.

  23. LadyLydiaSpeaks says:

    Stacy, being accused of a legalist is just a smoke screen for people who don’t like it when others take a stand, dress differently, have good manners, clean house, etc. They don’t mind if we do it but they are offended if they see it. We are supposed to be locked up in our houses, according to them, and not be noticeable at all with our children or our progress in life.

  24. Kelly says:

    “…and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?”
    Wow now that is a powerful quote but you know what I get it. While I don’t fit the description in the quote I have seen some, well a lot of hostility directed at me just because I’m a stay at home wife and now mom to an almost 3 year old.
    A neighbor recently said to me, “I see you everyday out in the neighborhood walking with your girl, in the evenings with your husband, and you’re always laughing, singing, and talking it’s cute.” Now he meant it in a nice way as he’s a friend but the comment made me think are others resentful of this out of the norm life?
    My husband and I have noticed, especially since we had our daughter, who goes everywhere with us, that there seems to be a lot of grumpy people out there, but they seem to be directing it at us when were are out.
    We’ve had people push our cart, with our daugther in it, out of the way in a not so nice manner. When my daughter says hello to people we’ve had them give her a very nasty look.
    The only exception is other parents out there with us of course.
    But reading that quote especially the last part, “Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?” makes me think that others in there fast paced run everywhere do everything lifestyle are resentful of the slower pace, happy, relaxed life that my husband and I are trying to live.
    Wonderful post.

  25. Jennifer says:

    Wow, Madame; excellent, excellent comments!

    “Its very human to pick at and despise something that may be seen as “better.”

    I think that’s one of the most common misconceptions about homeschoolers, Fiona: that they arrogantly see themselves as “better”. Sometimes people automatically assume that those who humble themselves are doing so out of pride.

  26. Fiona says:

    I didn’t make myself clear, really. I meant “better” in the sense of the article: that people criticize home-school because they see well behaved children and think, “behind this perfect family facade, there must be a blatant conspiracy to brainwash kids and undermine the American education system.”

    Kind of like how some people try to specifically criticize the wealthy, because, secretly, they sort of want to be them.
    haha, do I make sense?

  27. Jennifer says:

    “haha, do I make sense?”

    Yep, you do :)

  28. rebecca j says:

    What an encouraging posting.

    “…our generation has eaten its seed corn.”

    How sobering and very well stated.

    Thank you for sharing this and for your continued stand for God’s timeless Truth.


  29. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve sometimes felt the eye of scrutiny as my stair-steps follow me (sometimes not as quietly as I’d like, haha) through a busy grocery store. Sometimes I feel like I need to apologize for just standing there…

  30. Heath Clan says:

    Sometimes I don’t want to share my failures as a mom or as a homeschooler because I feel people are just looking for that chink in my armor to make things hard on me. It is hard to share my fears and hardships with someone that has just vociferously denounced homeschoolers, large families or stay at home moms. If I am struggling with patience with an unruly child, overwhelmed by the size of my family, or worried about our finances on a single income budget I am not prone to confide in that individual. Then that can be construed as my being snooty.

    We live in a rural area, go to a small church and my best friend homeschools her six children. Most of what I read on the computer are from like-minded folk. My husband gets teased at work a bit, but other than that we have a great response to our children in the “public sphere” here. I actually forget how strange we are. Then I go out-town (for our locals that is one word with the exclusion of “to”) and get some eyes to poppin’.

    We do get responses locally. Usually people say how they don’t know how I do it. I tell them that I don’t have the capability either. It makes me rely on the Lord in prayer. If I didn’t have Him I would be in the insane asylum:) As it is our family is learning to be more open with our failures and dependence on the Lord. Then folks see that we are not very different and God gets the glory. I don’t have a “smug smile,” I have a grateful heart and it shows even in the hard times.

  31. horton_crew says:

    “Anybody living a life that appears more “holy” than mine is a legalist and anybody using their Christian liberty in ways that I find “unbiblical” is a wretch.”

    I am the only mother in my church that does not homeschool. I am constantly being put down by my sisters at church for this. I feel there was a wall put between the other ladies at church and myself when I explained that Jesus didn’t stay in the temple. He went out among the public.

    Sending my daughter to school to interact with other children is not a sin and we have prayed continually about it, and the answer we keep getting is no.

    I understand and appreciate the struggles a mother who homeschools goes through,(my sister homeschools her children) but I don’t like feeling like my peers see me as seperated from God for not doing so either.

  32. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Lydia. Interesting thoughts, but I think it goes even further. I think some of the loudest and most vicious critics of those who seem more conservative are people who were themselves legalists and finally gave up on their legalism. Since they were judgmental, they assume everyone is too.

    Because just like anything done “in the flesh” it left them empty and weary. Any time we make any teaching or person an idol, we’ll be disappointed. And I think this happens often.

    When they see others living a life that “appears” to be the life they used to live, they ascribe false motives to others and assume they’re doing the same thing.

    The conversation could look something like this: (And a similar conversation really happened)

    Lady Kate: I used to be ATI too, and I lived just like you. But God showed me I was judgmental and legalistic.

    Lady Jane: That’s very interesting. I’ve never been involved in ATI, though I know some very nice people who are. But I’m not sure why you think you “know how I live” or why you think I’m judgmental or legalistic.

    Lady Kate: Well, I used to wear dresses all the time and thought pants were a sin. I know you think I’m a rebellious woman.

    Lady Jane: I didn’t think any such thing. I barely even know you. And I don’t wear dresses because I think pants are sinful; I choose my wardrobe based on what I think is feminine and modest.

    Lady Kate: Well, I can’t help feeling judged by how you live. Would you mind just keeping your convictions to yourself? They bug me.

    I’m just using the dress topic as an example, there’s so many more. But I think that’s the underlying problem.

    People spend their time living out someone else’s convictions, instead of seeking God for themselves; and then when they fall flat on their faces (because they were in fact just “going through the motions”) they blame their idols. And they blame anyone else who may appear to them to be doing what they used to do.

    Does that make sense?

    Someone told me recently, the most dangerous and horrible “heresy” is the one you “used to be involved in” yourself. I think it’s human nature.

    So let’s repent of our own sins and stop ascribing false motives to others. Let’s stop slandering our brothers and sisters in the Lord and start working to build the Kingdom of God.

    We have a real ENEMY to deal with (1 Peter 5:8) and I’m sure he’s quite pleased with all the backbiting and gossip that distracts us from what God has called us to do.

    Let it roll off your back, Lydia. Don’t be distractd from what God calls you to do.

    [This comment was edited by the author]

  33. Lisa Marie says:

    “Someone told me recently, the most dangerous and horrible “heresy” is the one you “used to be involved in” yourself. I think it’s human nature.”

    Don’t you think that might be a matter of “been there, done that?”

  34. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Yes, you’re right. There are times when experience is valuable in helping others not to fall into the same trap you yourself fell into.

    However, an equal danger would be to assume everyone else’s motives and lives are just as yours were when you were making some “huge mistake.”

    Sometimes it’s a matter of pride. When I was pregnant for the first time, I was very prideful of my “easy” pregnancy. I assumed everyone else was just whiney because pregnancy wasn’t “that bad.”

    Then, after a few more babies and age set in, pregnancy became increasingly difficult. Suddenly I understood (and had sympathy for) all the things pregnant women complained about. Only this time I assumed all those young pregnant women were thinking I was whiney!

    I was ascribing false motives to others because of my own arrogant pride. Because I had judged other pregnant women, I assumed others were now judging me.

    I think this is what happens in many cases with Christians who see other Christians whose lives seem more conservative. They assume these people are “judging” them, because that is exactly what they would have done.

  35. madame says:

    ” People spend their time living out someone else’s convictions, instead of seeking God for themselves; and then when they fall flat on their faces (because they were in fact just “going through the motions”) they blame their idols. And they blame anyone else who may appear to them to be doing what they used to do.”

    I so agree with that! It’s what I call “second hand Gospel”.
    Buyer buys a book marketed as “the solution for your life”. Buyer reads the book and starts implementing the principles in the book. Buyer trusts the author and doesn’t double check with her Bible, or pray about it, buyer just does what the book says to do.

    One day, buyer might just hurl the book across the room, frustrated that she is not getting the wonderful fruits for her toil, as the author says she got. She blames the book and the author.

    What our buyer has forgotten is that the author didn’t just sit down one day and write a manual, but she probably arrived at the conviction through prayer and Bible study. The author, excited about her success in life, watching so many women who are not successful in life, wrote a book about her success and how she got/is getting there.
    The author’s good intention is to help other women. The buyer is looking for the foolproof recipe. She believes it will be in a book, but it’s not.

    I have been this Buyer. Thankfully, I came to the point where I realized that God wants to have a personal relationship with ME. That my family is unique and my husband and I have to seek Him, as our Head. He can use a book, but He can only use one if we are properly grounded in His Word, or if the book leads us to seek answers in THE BOOK.
    Does that make any sense?

  36. Eirini says:

    I was considering the issue of legalism and found the following article, by a pastor at John MacArthur’s church, very helpful:

    “It is a fact: The Bible does not DIRECTLY address every particular issue or activity in life.

    And when we are discussing these issues not addressed in Scripture, we may well hold different opinions as to what is right and wrong.

    I don’t mean issues that are clearly laid out in Scripture. For example, we MUST share the same convictions about who Christ is. And certain activities are clearly described in the Bible as being sinful. So we can’t sit around trying to decide what our personal conviction might be on (for example) adultery, drunkenness, or lying, murder, or homosexuality, etc

    There is no doubt as to the sinfulness of these activities.

    But many issues are NOT clearly spelled out in the Word of God like these are as being sinful.

    There are principles that can guide us, but there’s no particular verse to tell us whether the activity is right or wrong.

    We call these the gray areas of life (not exactly black…sinful and forbidden; and

    not exactly white…good and encouraged). We tend to form personal convictions about these issues, which is FINE. We ought to. And we ought to live by those convictions.’

  37. Eirini says:

    I’m sorry: I sent off the other comment but it was not yet finished.

    The author goes on to explain that
    legalism does NOT refer to having personal convictions regarding gray areas in the Bible.

    The problem (legalism)comes in when we judge others on the basis of these personal convictions: considering them to be less spiritual or less godly if they do not share the same convictions that we do.

    Legalism comes in when we elevate our personal convicyions to the level of a Biblical command.

    The articles says:
    “The habit of many in the church is to judge other believers based upon their own convictions and views of the Christian life. … People develop these strong convictions and live by them. The problem, though, is that they do more than just live by these heartfelt guidelines themselves: they also expect everyone else to live by the same convictions. If someone doesn’t hold the same view on a subject, then that individual is judged at least to be less spiritual, or at worst to be in open rebellion against God.

    The term commonly used to describe this judgmental tendency is LEGALISM.”

  38. Eirini says:

    The quotes in the 2 comments I sent previously come from the article

    “Walking the Thin Line.
    Combating Legalism in the Church”
    by Carey Hardy
    Pastor, Adult and Family Ministries
    Grace Community Church,

    and was part of the Shepherd’s Conference 2003.

    I found it transcribed at Bible Bulletin Board by searching under the topic ‘legalism’.

    I also found the following comments in the same article useful and insightful but I do encourage you to read the entire article: it makes more sense in its entirety.

    “This (legalism) ends up being a system that judges an individual’s relationship to God in terms of adherence to man-made rules.”

    “Legalism is very judgmental. It also eliminates the need for true biblical decision-making. Making personal moral decisions is not necessary when they are being made for you by another individual or by some spiritual hierarchy.”

    “Legalism is not the same thing as having standards. God Himself surely has laws. He is a God of law, and His laws are absolute and unchanging. But man has not been content simply to apply these standards. So he amplifies them, interprets them, and often twists them. God’s lofty moral laws end up being reduced to petty rules such as how long a man’s hair should be over the ears. The Christian faith is thus cheapened.”

    “The counterpart to the Pharisees today is the people who are afraid to allow Christians to live only with God’s Word. To biblical principles they add rules and regulations and standards, and then come to the point of believing they are part of the Scriptures themselves.”

    “This is the way it is for legalists. God lays down a principle. Then, man reduces God’s great principle to a set of rules that may be burdensome, but that certainly remove individual responsibility for making choices. Finally, man elevates rule-keeping to a mark of spirituality and judges himself and others by it.”

  39. Eirini says:

    The article I quoted can be found at Bible Bulletin Board or


    There is also an excellent chapter on legalism in a book by Martha Peace called “Damsels in Distress”.
    Martha Peace is the author of “The Excellent Wife”.

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