A Pathway to True Freedom in Christ

What’s the deal with all the rules?

Following rules is hard. Or rather, no one likes being told to follow rules.

Sadly, some assume Christianity is all about the rules.

Don’t do this, don’t do that.

In Matthew (5:17-37), Jesus expands more on the Commandments and more rules on how to live out a life of holiness.

For example, when talking about killing, he says

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment;” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Or in reference to adultery:

“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

So, what are we to make about all the rules?

Rules Ground Us To Act Justly

Pope St. John Paul II once said,

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

What is that we ought to do? Act with justice to God and our neighbor. But we are flawed human beings, thus we need the assistance of God who laid out rules and commands we need to follow.

Our human freedom gives us the ability to make choices. But we are not left in the dark, we are guided by Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church to give us an understanding of how to live life with justice.

When someone struggles with the difficult sexual moral teachings of the church, I like to emphasize that those teachings are also rooted in justice, respecting the full dignity of another person; body and soul. Looking at someone with lust is not bad simply due to the act of looking, but in reducing the other person to an object, thus denying that individual the full dignity of personhood.

Rules Point to Greater Freedom Found in Christ

A beautiful aspect of our faith is the role detachment can play in helping us to see and hear more clearly the voice of God. When we remove things of this world that can weaken our attention to the divine, we can begin to focus our energy on what really matters. Thus, commandments and rules exist not to stifle our lives, but to enhance them.

In reflection, we remember that Jesus said:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

The Commandments are not arbitrary, but a path to live a life of love and justice, rooted always in Christ.

Daniel Quintero is a newlywed husband, writer, and avid karaoke singer. He currently attends Prince of Peace Catholic Church where he volunteers in the lector ministry and with faith formation. His favorite motto: “Awkwardness does not exist.”

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