Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why Do We Have Rules?

As I served as a missionary for the Church in Independence, Missouri, people would often ask me why the "Mormon Church" has so many rules. To most, it seems like an unending list of rules -- we don't drink or smoke, no premarital sexual relations, don't date until your 16, etc. DON'T, DON'T, DON'T. That's what it seems like -- a restrictive, no fun list.
"Why do we need rules to follow God," people would ask? Shouldn't God love us no matter what we do? What's the point of all the rules? Let me give an example:
What was the point of Mom giving me the rule to stay out of the mud? I should be able to do what I want! I should be able to jump and roll around in the mud all I want, right? That's my right. So, I chose to play in the mud. Now, Mom won't let me come in the house until I hose off the mud. Wait! Does Mom not love me anymore because I played in the mud? No. She just doesn't want something dirty (i.e. me) to come into the house.
As silly as this example seems, it is a simple illustration of why God gives us rules and commandments. The scriptures teach us that "no unclean thing can enter his [God's] kingdom" (3 Nephi 27:19). Just like I was dirty from breaking my mom's "restrictive" rule, breaking God's rules makes us unclean and God's house, like my mom's, is a house of order and cleanliness.
The good news of the Gospel is that we can "hose off" when we break God's rules. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). The Atonement of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from our sins when we repent (Moroni 10:31-32).
Rules and commandments are there to keep us safe. God's rules that we receive through His prophets are there for our protection. Just like seatbelt laws, God's laws are there for our benefit. Prophets have always given us commandments and they always will. It is a blessing to have rules. It keeps us safe.
I know that God loves us and wants us to live with him again. I know that as we keep his rules that we receive from prophets, we will be happy. God wants us to be happy in this life. That's why he gave us rules.