Rule #6: Don't believe everything you hear.

One of the great pitfalls of the modern era is the advent of manipulative and indirect advertising in mass. Following shortly after is the misinformation spread on the internet and social networks. I can't count the number of bogus e-mail I've read claiming to be true. From stories about historical figures, to "natural" medicines, to the next great invention since sliced bread. One of my favorite example of manipulative advertising is the pocket hose with the statement in a BAM! box claiming "3 times stronger". Look carefully though. If you are a normal human being your first thought is, "3 times stronger than a normal hose, this might be a good purchase." I said this myself when I saw the big text. Then It occurred to me that the price, size, and claim didn't line up. So I looked at the fine print to discover it's not stronger than other hoses at all. It is stronger than "previous pocket hoses". Read the reviews on amazon and you will get the full picture. I call that lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating. But since the fine print had the facts they can get away with it.

In all fairness modern advertising isn't using new techniques. Snake oil has been sold for hundreds of year. Maybe more and is completely worthless if not destructive. Conspiracy theorist and hypochondriacs love the idea that the government and big medical industries are holding out on us in order to make more money or keep us under their thumb. But capitalism doesn't work that way. If someone had the cure for the common cold no amount of money could stop an individual from releasing it and making himself a new medical giant. The worst form of manipulative advertisements are these conspirators that actually believe what they are selling will help. 

I was taught many theological "facts" as a child that I discovered to be completely false or at the least misdirected. A famous dating book when I was a teen and young adult claimed a "good" Christian does not date and does not kiss until marriage. I drank the cool aid for a short time. But one day I decided to see what the Bible said about it. The books never seemed to actually use scripture but rather non-biblical Jewish traditions. They encouraged a type of romantic pursuit called "courtship". My search revealed several very disturbing facts. Courtship is the practice of members of a court, usually royalty, finding mistresses on the side while their wives were away. I understand language grows and changes bug whatever idiot decided this was a good name for a Christian form of dating should be castrated to prevent his stupidity from spreading to the next generation. Additionally some Jewish traditions are highly immoral in todays society. Take for example the problem with Tamar. He husband died. According to Jewish tradition she should sleep with her brother in law to produce an heir [Genesis 38]. This would be considered horrifying in todays society and even illegal in some US States. Why would we follow some part of Jewish tradition and not others? Who decides which pieces are still applicable and which are not? In the Bible we often use Timely or Timeless. What pieces of Jewish tradition are Timeless? I'm willing to bet it's the parts that made it into the Cannon. I decided to look at the lives of the people who are teaching these principles and found that a majority of them were in their 30's and not married. I wanted marriage. Why would I follow the advice of a single guy on how to find a wife, on how to date? He clearly failed at dating. I don't want his advice anymore. The real crux was my studies in the Bible. It's amazing how little the Bible discusses rules for romantic engagement. In the entire Bible I was only able to find one clear-cut rule that applied to dating: Do not have sex before marriage. The Bible never says not to kiss, It never says we have to be friends first, It never says you have to get the fathers permission (though I recommend doing so out of respect), It never says the parents have to approve (though I recommend getting their approval, for the sake of strength in the marriage). My conclusion is that dating a romance are supposed to be different for every person, every relationship. Every story is unique and it's supposed to be. Just like our relationships with God is always different form others, unpredictable and mysterious. Four things I do not understand... "the way of a man with a virgin" [Proverbs 30:18-19]. I always interpreted this as sex for the first time but I think it means much more. It means every man pursues romance a little bit differently. So differently it's just not worth trying to understand. It's not meant to be understood, it's meant to be enjoyed. Every romantic pursuit has it's own rules. 

The spirit of Rule #6 is to think critically about what you read, and what you are taught. As a child we have no choice but to listen and believe our parents and teachers. But as you get older it's time to start checking the facts. Pocket hose is just a light-weight hose no matter how many BAM banners it has. Naturalist remedies probably are not validated by the FDA because they have very little measurable effect. The Bible doesn't tell you how to date. All these are things I had to learn myself by checking the facts of those who claimed the opposite. Ignorance is the ultimate prison and in the last 10 years as I learned to think critically and check the facts I have been set free from dozens of evil, misleading, and lying theologies, practices, and products. As said in the Bible: "[learn and teach] ...that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting..." [Eph 4:11-16]. The Bible teaches us to think critically, to check the facts, to be wary of people trying to trick for personal gain or intended harm both theologically and practically.