A Little Time With The 1689: Day 301

Day 301

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 5.

“…and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious, and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.”

Scripture Lookup

Matthew 19:11

Reflection

When I was a child I had aspirations to be a ballerina. I was awestruck each time I watched these women perform. Beautiful not only in costume and in movement, they embodied the culture of self-denial that surrounded the dance world: strictly watch what you eat, steel your mind against the fatigue, sacrifice your social life, push through the pain and don’t complain. Those who followed those mantras had the reward of achieving grace an ordinary woman could not.

In Roman Catholic culture, such awe as I had for ballet dancers surrounds those men and women who enter monastical life. They, too, live a life of self-denial. Their pleasures are denied for a seemingly greater goal. Dangling in front of them is the reward of achieving a greater holiness than those in the everyday world.

Taking monastical vows, and the life of asceticism that accompanies it, is very attractive. In such a system your level of holiness is determined by how devoted you are. Increasing in piety is only limited by yourself; therefore, push yourself further up the ladder to receive your well-earned reward. This system, however, is totally antithetical with the Gospel. No matter how hard we work, we cannot merit His favor by our actions. Only through faith in Christ alone can we be saved. Our holiness rests upon Him alone. Any good we do is through the Spirit, and good works are only those which Scripture states.

The Bible warns against false teachers who appeal to our senses with a life of asceticism. May we not be enamored with such superstition as has ensnared those who have joined monastic orders. Let our zeal be for Christ, and may we follow what He has commanded in His word.

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. -Colossians 2:20-23, NASB

 

Questions to Consider

  • Is there anything you are doing to be “more holy” that Scripture doesn’t warrant?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 299

Day 299

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Chapter 23, Paragraph 5.

“…but Popish Monastical Vows, of perpetual single life,…”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 7:2,9

Reflection

If you haven’t experienced devout Roman Catholicism, the appreciation given to those who become priests, monks, or nuns might seem odd. Yet when you are pursuing a works-based righteousness, these are the people that are held up as examples to follow. Their dismissal of all that is “worldly”, serving God and the Church over everything else, is a very romantic notion. Taking monastical vows makes one holier-than-thou, literally: “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Him more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesean bishop…[and] are bethrothed mystically to Christ…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church).  They are closer to God because of the vow of chastity they had taken. Christ alone is their betrothed! They can resist temptation. Those who marry and have families, while still good, aren’t quite as dedicated as these others.

So what’s wrong with taking a vow of celibacy, to formally and intentionally withhold yourself from marriage? Could anyone who believes the true Gospel join in a community of fellow Christians, all formally abstaining from marriage and the physical intimacy that accompanies it? What is wrong with such a scenario is that it is never prescribed in Scripture. The Confession earlier stated: “Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His Holy Word”. (Chapter 16.1) Vows of a perpetual single life are not a good work, for they are not commanded by God in His word.

We know that there is nothing holier about those who take a vow of celibacy. They succumb to temptation and sin like everyone else. Only through faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, will anyone be redeemed. As Christians, may we be diligent to obey the commands of God only in Scripture, not a tradition.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any things you consider “holy” that are not warranted by Scripture?