For five years I served as the Conference Parliamentarian. That meant I was the expert in church law, and if any question or challenge arose it was my function to immediately give the President reference to the relevant section of church law in order to make a ruling. So I am intimately acquainted with the hundreds of pages of laws and by-laws and regulations and protocols and practices and policies of The United Church of Canada. Serving as an Anglican priest I became familiar with canon law. Serving in a Presbyterian congregation I learned the Book of Forms (for all the good it did me).

But none of these even reflect, much less constitute, the divine expectation for the Body of Christ.


When the standard of living question arose in the earliest days of The Way the Council of Jerusalem met and wrote this guideline:

From the apostles and the spiritual leaders, your brothers.

To their non-Jewish brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.

Dear brothers and sisters,

We have heard that some individuals who came from us have confused you with statements that disturb you. We did not authorize these men {to speak}. So we have come to a unanimous decision that we should choose men and send them to you with our dear Barnabas and Paul. Barnabas and Paul have dedicated their lives to our Lord, the one named Jesus Christ. We have sent Judas and Silas to report to you on our decision. The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to place any additional burdens on you. Do only what is necessary by keeping away from food sacrificed to false gods, from eating bloody meat, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual sins. If you avoid these things, you will be doing what’s right. Farewell!” (Acts 15:23-29 God’s Word).

We have probably all purchased food and goods that have been offered to the god of profit. Workers are poisoned, abused, die in factory fires where they were held as prisoner/slaves all so that the production costs can be lowered and profits to the owners/shareholders can increase. But, we don’t worship false gods today, right?

I cannot explain why meat cooked rare, or meat from strangled animals, were a concern for the Apostles. In Canada virtually no meat would ever be available that was from animals strangled, since we have strict laws about how meat must be processed. But a lot of people like their steaks and roasts rare. Hm?

Loose sexual activity is so prevalent that we are no longer shocked by how many partners people have. 8% of women and 21% of men have had 15 or more! I get my statistics (on Americans) from

So, if we didn’t bow to the god called excess profit at the cost of the worker, never had our meat rare, and acted chastely in our intimate relationship with our partner (singular) we would obey the Apostles.

And all the other hundreds of regulations would no longer cover over immorality with legalistic veneer.