Lately, I have been pondering the chains of tradition and why they cause us such angst when we make a break from the accepted warped norms. I recall the first six months of our transition to Torah and remember multiple times, waking in a cold sweat and running to the kitchen table where my books were often laid out to be reassured once again that the Scriptures indeed say the Torah is forever and THE way of life. The Christian traditions of my fathers and the doctrines I learned in seminary and then parroted from the pulpit had indeed become chains upon my soul.
Now, don’t misjudge what I just said, because Christendom contains much, MUCH, truth, but mixed with that truth are pillar doctrines that are demonstrably false. The angst comes when we finally know, undeniably, that the pillar is wrong, yet we want to still cling to it even though we know we must remove it. Let me give you a practical example, then a real life theological example.
Tearing down walls…
Over the summer my school schedule lightened a bit, so I decided to do a little remodeling in the house. Central to the remodeling was the decision to open up the pantry/kitchen/living room area. To do so, I needed to remove two load bearing walls, something I have never done before.
I thought about the process for weeks. I would look at the walls, tap on them, picture how to do it. I crawled under the house a couple times to find the support piers. I knew how to do it, but fear gripped me as I pictured all of the potential disasters of a misplaced beam, or accident.
I purchased 2x10x10s to make the replacement beams out of and had all supplies on hand when I decided one Sunday morning to open up the first wall. Upon doing it, I realized, because the two walls come together at a 90º angle, I would have to open both walls simultaneously before either beam could go in. Once opened, I was committed, but tied in knots. I removed everything but a central stud in each wall, measured and made my beams, carefully instructed my helping boys, then took a deep breath. Angst, that deep ill-defined dread, gripped me. I was about to make a major shift in the weight of the house.
With everything ready, and well beyond the point of reassembling the now destroyed walls, I cut the supporting stud, hammered it out of the way and quickly swapped the beam into place in each wall. Preparation took hours, but the final moments of angst and giving over to the new wall-less paradigm by swapping the remaining studs for beams took just a few stressful minutes. Then, a long exhale and a step back to reveal the whole new and much improved area between those three rooms.
Cleaning it up and dressing it all up with sheetrock, molding and paint took another couple weeks, but today the rooms are considerably more open. Air and people flow is better and lighting is much improved.
The point, as I began with, is that shifting from the safety of a known paradigm, even if one is convinced of the truth and improvement of the new paradigm, can be very, very stressing. The anxiousness of taking the leap, from inherited traditions to greater truth can be chains upon our soul. Choosing to leave the herd, or turning to swim upstream can be very scary, but it is where freedom is, once we break the binding chains of doctrines and traditions that are not true according to God’s Word.
A practical theological example is the discussion my wife and I had yesterday evening as we drove toward a weekend get away. The subject was teenagers and sex and she said something like, “That is supposed to be kept until after marriage!”
I asserted, “No, sex, according to Torah, IS marriage. If two people enter a sexual relationship, they have, according to Torah, become ‘one flesh’ and are married.”
This led to a spirited discussion with her trying to defend the Christian/Western cultural position that marriage happens at a ceremony with Judge or preacher/priest, while I asserted that Torah does not support that. Marriage happens when the two come together into physical union whether after the ceremony or months before.
She said, “Well, what about us? Neither were virgins and we were together before we saw the Justice of the Peace, did we commit adultery?”
“Yes, what we did in ignorance has been forgiven, but according to Torah, God’s Word, we were wrong,” I replied.
“I just don’t buy that,” she huffed.
The conversation drifted off to other topics and I again pondered the angst of paradigm shifts.
Several years ago I wrote a lightning inducing article titled “Marriage, Divorce and Christian Error.” It caused quite a heated discussion as it delved into multiple related topics from a Torah perspective, so I eventually locked the article. What I found most amusing and troubling was the number of solid truth-loving teachers that contacted me privately to say they agreed with the article and the assertions, but they would never say it out loud or defend me. People cling to their traditions and don’t want some pieces of truth. The wall of anxiety caused by a shifting paradigm is too much for most to face.
Coming to Torah requires facing a number of anxiety inducing walls. We must jettison false traditions and embrace the new pillars of Scriptural truth. As a people of truth, though, we must be willing to move farther forward and continue to root out other cultural and doctrinal traditions that don’t line up with Scripture. This requires facing the anxiety, but knowing that there is freedom on the other side!!
More I could say, but this ought to spawn some discussion about the anxiety of paradigm shifts. A few testimonies would be nice, too!
Blessings and Shabbat shalom!