The Problem with Prohibition

Jeff Turner is one of my favourite writers, and with good reason. He is at the same time both extremely perceptive and also very good at expressing his ideas. I’d go so far as to say that he’s one of the clearest Christian thinkers of our generation.

Here’s a new thought of his, from one of his recent Facebook posts:

“The command “do not” will always produce the opposite of what it intends. We cannot help but be driven to do that which is forbidden, and which we are told not to do. We become utterly obsessed with the forbidden, but when we indulge in it, pull away so quickly in shame and remorse, that we never have the opportunity to observe whether or not it actually is harmful, or just benign. As a result, the prohibition continues to lure us back in, and the shame that follows pushes us away, and we never make an informed decision about whether or not the thing we are pulled toward, and then repelled by, is what we think it is.

“The Pauline declaration that “all things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial” defuses this bomb, and puts a stop to this cycle. It removes the prohibition, for starters, but then assures us that even if we continue to engage in, whatever the activity or behavior is, until the end of time, we will remain accepted and beloved. This unconditional love allows us the opportunity to sit in the same room with our actions long enough to actually come to terms with whether or not it is, in fact, beneficial, whereas the cycle of indulgence, followed by guilt and gut-wrenching repentance does not allow for this. The prohibition causes us to pull away after the indulgence so quickly that we never make an informed and heartfelt choice about whether or not we want to live engaging in this behavior until the end of time.

“This is why so many in religion remain trapped inside certain patterns and behaviors. They have never felt loved and accepted enough to sit in the same room with their choices long enough to determine for themselves whether they are choices worth making or actions worth taking.

“Grace brings this cycle to a halt”.

– Jeff Turner

Here’s a link to the original Facebook post:

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