The Danger of Dogma

A Series on Love, Part 6

There are several definitions for what a social norm is. What I mean by Social norms, are the practices that express a community’s ethics or values. A social norm is a principle put into practice. Social norms are things like tipping. It’s not a law, but it’s socially unacceptable to not tip. It’s ungracious. Even if the service is bad it’s still not ok to withhold a tip. Tipping expresses a collective value.

The Pharisees Question Jesus
The Pharisees Question Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social norms, in themselves are not a problem. Jesus didn’t rise up against the social norms of 1st century Judaism because they were wicked inthemselves. The problem is, communities elevate their practices to the level of principles and judge harshly any other group that does not follow the same practice. They make practices, principles.

Liturgy is a good example. True Christian worship looks like this and anything else is heresy. Christian communities love their practices; their traditions, and easily love them more than God or people. We create artificial barriers between us and other groups by elevating our social norms above people. This is what Jesus challenged. In Jesus’ day the purity laws, which were right and good in themselves, prevented the Jews from loving people who needed it. Instead it was a source of arrogance.    Continue reading “The Danger of Dogma”