Rule #26: Every Rule has an Exception

I hated English class through most of my schooling. It was without exception or exaggeration my most hated subject. From 1st through around 9th grade I simply hated everything about it. Reading was a waste of time. Writing was boring. And grammar and spelling had no logical order or system. I remember several times trying to make a small effort to learn something and being very disappointed when I discovered everything I learned was pointless because their was a list of exception that added up to sometimes more than 50% of all cases. "I before E except after C" is a worthless rule. Throughout education history the rule has had several additions "or when sounding like A as in neighbor and weigh" which still leaves out so many exceptions it's not useful. I finally added for my own sanity a 5th line "unless the word is weird". Just so I remember the rule is pointless and has so many exceptions it never should have been taught at all.

I eventually became semi-competent at English and even started enjoying reading and occasionally writing. But I never forgave the English language for having so many exceptions. What was the point of having a rule if it wasn't true. Until a funny thing happened in my spiritual walk. I suppose it comes back to Ecclesiastes 3 "A time for every purpose under heaven" (read it all on Bible Gateway).  The most curious line of the passage to me was vs 3: "A time to kill, a time to heal". The Bible is clear that murder is wrong. It is also clear in the Bible that God commanded genocide on at least one occasion. I returned to the familiar but never critically reviewed passage when I was questioning several rules of my upbringing. I stopped believing all the random rules I was told and started asking "why". Everyone has moments like this. Sometimes it is used as an excuse in an extended period of rebellion and care-free living "I just have to find myself". I decided to take a more analytical and practical approach to my critical questioning of everything I knew. I went back to the source.

What I concluded was rules are not bad as long as we understand Every Rule has an Exception. Every rule is like the English language. Good rules are created to get you started in the right direction not to indoctrinate you into a robot. If God wanted robots he never would have provided free will. So I made a simple conclusion. Follow the rule until you understand it's purpose, it's intention. Recipes are an easy example. When I cook a meal for the first time, I always follow the directions as closely as possible. I see the result and understand the process. Then I start experimenting. The recipe needed more spice, I should add more red pepper. The texture was weird to me, I'll remove the green peppers.

I feel life should be the same and I hope my children will ultimately understand this rule more than any other. I will teach them these rules until they know them and understand them. Then when they start asking question I will come back to rule #26 and say. You need to start understanding what this means. It's ok to question, it's ok and encouraged to think critically. But don't just throw everything away. Understand the real intention. Understand the rule is truly meant to help you in some way. Don't look for the exception like some corrupt cooperate lawyer looking for a loophole in a contract. Understand the spirit of the law the core purpose of the rule and what it is supposed to be protecting you from, equipping you with, or preparing you for. Then the exception will be clear. Because they exception will violate the letter but not the spirit of the teaching. 

Their is one rule that doesn't have an exception. That is Rule #1 Love God, love people, love yourself. If Rule #13: Speak the Truth means the death of a friend it's time to make an exception (assuming it doesn't mean denying Christ). The purpose of the rule #13 is to set yourself up as a trustworthy and reliable person. I would trust the person who saved my life far more than the person who turned me into a genocidal army because he "couldn't lie".

Rule #26 can almost be rewritten as follow the spirit of the law not the letter. Every rule has an exception. And the real value in the exception is it still follow the intent behind the rule. I give you permission to break rules, laws, commands, and statues. Because a rule without exception is death. It is religion without Jesus. It is living without life. It is being a robot in a world that needs a human, the pinnacle of God's creation.