Why so many rules?

After many discussions with religious and non religious people I am confused.
There are so many man made rules for the Church that seem to KNOW exactly what God thinks or will do.
Isn’t it enough to follow the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and live our lives as he asked?

We can’t do so and so because God will only forgive this and not that.
If you don’t worship or pray a certain way God will not listen.
You have to pray only a certain way on a certain day at a certain time because only this way is acceptable. It will please God.
If you don’t do this or that…that will displease God.

I know there will be very detailed and very intelligent (something I lack at times) answers.
It just disturbs me that we silly humans are so arrogant that we **KNOW **what God thinks or what God will like or dislike.

In regards to the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, it is important to note that the regulations and rules of the Church are not “man made.” The rules are ACTED on by MAN, though INSTITUTED by CHRIST.

If you are doubting the “authenticity” of this, I suggest you look at the Catechism, for on every page there are quite a few Biblical references for each of the regulations.

Yes. And to do so, His Church, based on His guidance, gives us the way to do just that. Some call them rules, but they really are the instruction manual, if you will, telling us how to live our lives as he asked.

Peace

Tim

I think that the core issue you considering here is that it is arrogant to presume that we can understand what god wants. I would agree with this premise, but here’s the problem for you as a practicing Roman Catholic (I’m going to presume, there is nothing in your religion box to suggest otherwise).

This is against the core feature of Catholicism.

Being infallible, the Papacy and the Church can and does requently exercises the authority to interpret (or decide depending where you’re sat) what God likes or dislikes. The rules exist because (according to the Catechism) it DOES know everything required for you to please God, and to suggest otherwise is to suggest that the Church, the Body of Christ, the instrument of God upon earth is deficient in some manner; clearly a heretical proposition considering the current absolutist theocratic-monarchical governance of the Church!

:thumbsup:
Bravo, a brilliant answer:)

I do not know where those particular quotes come from…they are not Catholic Quotes…

Tis not “about rules” though of course rules (even in games and on the road) are important…

““To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI 8 September 2007

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

(quotes snipped from Vatican website: vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20060108_battesimo_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20120516_en.html )

I often ask myself the same question with regard to Judaism. I thought Christianity was designed to dispense with much of the formalism found in Judaism, but instead it seems to have simply gone in another direction while retaining just as many rules. This appears to be inherent in all religions (Islam is another such), even those that are meant to be simple such as Quakerism. Our religions are really a way of life that instruct us how to best love G-d and each other.

Tis not “about rules” though of course rules (even in games and on the road) are important…

““To gaze upon Christ!” If we do this, we realize that Christianity is more than and different from a moral code, from a series of requirements and laws. It is the gift of a friendship that lasts through life and death: “No longer do I call you servants, but friends” (Jn 15:15), the Lord says to his disciples. We entrust ourselves to this friendship. Yet precisely because Christianity is more than a moral system, because it is the gift of friendship, for this reason it also contains within itself great moral strength, which is so urgently needed today on account of the challenges of our time. If with Jesus Christ and his Church we constantly re-read the Ten Commandments of Sinai, entering into their full depth, then a great, valid and lasting teaching unfolds before us. The Ten Commandments are first and foremost a “yes” to God, to a God who loves us and leads us, who carries us and yet allows us our freedom: indeed, it is he who makes our freedom real (the first three commandments). It is a “yes” to the family (fourth commandment), a “yes” to life (fifth commandment), a “yes” to responsible love (sixth commandment), a “yes” to solidarity, to social responsibility and to justice (seventh commandment), a “yes” to truth (eighth commandment) and a “yes” to respect for other people and for what is theirs (ninth and tenth commandments). By the strength of our friendship with the living God we live this manifold “yes” and at the same time we carry it as a signpost into this world of ours today.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI 8 September 2007

““I want them to understand that it is beautiful to be a Christian! The generally prevailing idea is that Christians have to observe an immense number of commandments, prohibitions, precepts, and other such restrictions, so that Christianity is a heavy and oppressive way of living, and it would therefore be more liberating to live without all these burdens. But I would like to make it clear that to be sustained by this great Love and God’s sublime revelation is not a burden, but rather a set of wings—that it is truly beautiful to be a Christian. It is an experience that gives us room to breathe and move, but most of all, it places us within a community since, as Christians, we are never alone: first of all, there is God, who is always with us; secondly, we are always forming a great community among ourselves: a community of people together on a journey, a community with a project for the future. All of this means that we are empowered to live a life worth living. This is the joy of being a Christian: that it is beautiful and right to believe!””

~Pope Benedict XVI 2005

(quotes snipped from Vatican website: vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20060108_battesimo_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2012/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20120516_en.html )

There are actually only two.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40).

These two cover it all, however, as human beings afflicted by sin it is hard to know how to apply these two in every specific case. So, the Holy Spirit reveals the interpretation of these two commandments to our Church. She teaches this to us so that we may become holy.

Law is love which binds and obliges.

I have to admit I’m not really sure of what your underlying concern is…but I will try to shed some light if I can…
The basic reason there are so many rules is because many humans want things spelled out for them. You are quite right in asking isn’t enough to simply live by Christ’s words…but people are great at asking variations on the theme of, “yea but what if”…
We see this in the NT where the Rich young man wasn’t satisfied with Jesus first answer…but persisted in asking (Paraphrased) “Yea - but what else must I do…”
When Jesus says we must forgive - Peter asks “how many times…”:shrug:

The various questions and concerns have led the Church to try to provide answers…which as often as not have led tom ore questions and more answers… more rules, teachings disciplines, clarifications, etc…
After 2000 years - we wind up with quite a few rules…

As to the particular things you mention - They do not sound like Catholic teaching to me…
Although - I have had Catholics who have some particular devotion become a bit overzealous and make statements similar to those above…but these are matters of private devotion and, more particularly, the distortion of a private devotion.

Do you have something specific in mind?

Peace
James

Hi njprintman. I have to agree with bookcat that those particular questions would be quite odd for a Catholic to say. I will assume that those may have been types of examples but maybe not specific.
As other posters have indicated, many of the ‘rules’ are sort of ‘what if’ answers. If you think of spokes on a wheel, the outside spokes all center around the hub. So if the hub is the “Dignity of the Christian family”, there is are certain facets that enforce and secure that dignity, and many others that are contrary.

So:
Why are we against contraception? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family
Why are we against abortion? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family
Why are we against invetro-fertilization? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family
Why are we against divorce? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family
Why are we against premarital sex? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family
Why are we against SS unions? It attacks the Dignity of Christian family

Why do we have so many rules? We have one rule and everything else is contrary.

You’ll find that this is very often the case.

There are a lot of rules to learn when driving a car. There is the written part that must be mastered before going behind the wheel, and then, a seasoned driver must be beside the beginner. The reason is that you are sharing the road with a lot of other people, and if everyone understands the rules of the road, the chances of everyone getting to where they’re going is a lot more likely.

Living on this planet is a lot like that. I wish that everyone acted Christ like from infancy but as you know, we are far from it. Like driving, we have days that are sunny and the perfect road conditions, but many more times it’s dark, it’s raining or snowing, the road is a sheet of ice, and life is difficult to navigate. I am grateful to the Church that she is here to help us, guide us, and take us in when we’re struggling.

This is a very good answer. Christ gave these great commands to his Apostles, then gave his Church the authority to speak on faith and morals, stemming from these ideas.

Unfortunately, it’s often much easier to give the “Thou shall not…” rather than explaining why something is good or bad.

And, when it comes to rules of discipline such as not eating meat on Fridays in Lent, and fasting for adults on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we should be happy to obey them out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, His Body, of which He is the Head! (And, what I just mentioned is so minimal.)

Such humble obedience to rules help to sanctify us. Thanks be to God that we have the faith and freedom to obey them.

Lots of good feedback here. I think the “rules” are like guardrails to keep us on the road to goodness. Our motives for following rules, however, are important. Back when the Pharisees were criticizing Jesus’ disciples for breaking some of the laws, He told them what went in their bodies wasn’t such a big deal–it was what was in their hearts and subsequent actions that were!

While the Church does speak with infallibility in areas of faith and morals, I think the above is more of what the OP is concerned with. Yes, many of the rules are manmade, but they are still made with the authority God granted. Like a parent, it is not enough to have two rules, “Be safe” and “Be good”, but a child needs specifics. All the rules that follow come from these two basics.

The Church (or a parent, or your own pastor) is like a shepherd, or in the above analogy, a driver’s handbook. The Catholic Church also allows for the role of conscience as primary shepherd, as long as one understands the obligation to properly form that conscience.

I would say it might be easier to take a specific “rule” and examine why it seems oppressive and look at the role it plays to understand the purpose of all of the rules.

BTW- the idea that Jesus was simple, is itself an over simplification. It took three years for him to train his disciples, living with them day and night. We only know a minute amount of what Jesus taught.

I think it’s merely because religion is a part of social life, therefore it is always dynamic even when it appears to be static, and that dynamism means that the older religions have had more time to elaborate and deepen their understanding of themselves. Or something like that.

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