Nothing will keep a Christian more immature than trying to keep a list.
In a church a woman was knitting, waiting for the service to start. She had been there forty-five minutes. Some other dear woman said, “Oh, honey, we don’t do that in the house of God.” Well, what in the world do you do for an hour if you come waiting for a church service to start? Another was boning up for a test in college, and somebody said, “You know, here we read the Bible.”
Around 1928, I led a Bible conference at Montrose, Pennsylvania, for about two hundred young people and a few older people. One day two old ladies complained that some of the girls were not wearing stockings. These ladies wanted me to rebuke them. Looking them straight in the eye, I said, “The Virgin Mary never wore stockings.” They gasped and said, “She didn’t?” I answered, “In Mary’s time, stockings were unknown. So far as we know, they were first worn by prostitutes in Italy in the fifteenth century, when the Renaissance began. Later, a lady of the nobility scandalized the people by wearing stockings at a court ball. Before long everyone in the upper classes was wearing stockings, and by Queen Victoria’s time stockings had become the badge of the prude.” These ladies, who were hold-overs from the Victorian epoch, had no more to say. I did not rebuke the girls for not wearing stockings. A year or two afterward, most girls in the United States were going without stockings in summer and nobody thought anything about it.
Nor do I believe that this led toward disintegration of moral standards in the United States. Times were changing, and the step away from Victorian legalism was all for the better.
—Donald Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate
I have just completed a series of lessons on legalism, based on the book of Galatians. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s outlines as well as the International Standard Series.