A few musings from St Kilda

Sunday, 17 May 2015

You can't do that!

We've all seen them around.   They are prohibition signs that say "you can't do that".    These days we replace words with symbols, just in case someone can't read English.   Sometimes there is a red line striking through, sometimes there isn't one, usually on standard road signs, which makes things more confusing, but they mean the same - what's prohibited is on the sign.

These signs appear everywhere and most people understand their message - you can't do what's on the sign.   So I was intrigued to find this sign on the sea front when I was walking the dogs.

Here it is as large as life.  It's a dog on a lead in a prohibition sign.   What is says according to the rules above, is that you are not permitted to walk your dog on a lead.    That means you have to walk your dog off a lead doesn't it, because the sign shows a person with a dog on a lead?    As there is not a dog ban sign, they must be allowed, just not on a lead.  

Actually I'm being facetious here as I know very well what was meant because the sign is written in English underneath - which is just as well as there may be of confused people otherwise!

I found it no surprise that the authors of confusion were SCDC - it's typical municipal confusion, but I'm surprised no-one has noticed.  Perhaps they have and they don't want the expense of putting up a different sign unless someone else notices and makes a fuss!  

We have all lived in a generation of can't do's.  The signs may have changed over the years, but we live in a society that has limits.  Our behaviour is regulated by those in authority, or by those wanting to protect their privacy by putting up Keep Out signs.  Usually it's in the form of telling us what we can't do.    A common view of God is that He is someone who is a killjoy.  He has produced a book, the Bible which tells us what we can't do.   In the past couple of generations people have stressed freedom rather than prohibition.   Their rejection of the Christian faith is often on the basis of their freedom to do as they please.   

What strikes me about these signs is that we have not become a freer society, just that the nature of freedoms has shifted from one part of our culture to another.   So people may be freer in their sexual relationships, or freer in terms of race, gender or class, but in a modern surveillance society, many of our other rights have started to disappear, particularly in relation to personal privacy.

I sometimes watch Jeremy Kyle on telly - you can't avoid him really.   Are some of these people he has on his show for real?    How can human beings treat each other like that.  Not all do, but we all see elements of that sort of behaviour in our own community. 

Then we realise why the Bible is full of moral statements. Without God's framework, relationships can be very dysfunctional.  However much people may criticise the Christian faith for its Biblical moral stance, what replaces it is often moral anarchy which leads to broken relationships, anger, unforgiveness, revenge, hurt and hatred.  

Actually, the Bible is a book that helps us define freedoms.  It's a book that creates a framework in which we can live life knowing that we love others and honour God.   It tells us of things we shouldn't do and why, but it also tells us how in Jesus, God has set us free to live life to the full, by recognising all the space there is between the limits.   If you are a Christian, then God wants you to live life to the full.   

2 Cor 3:17.. the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.   True liberty is not found in ignoring Jesus but following Him.   The following verses always encourage me:    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).   The Christian faith is one where we have freedom to do all those things which build ourselves and others up.  They are all positive, and they are all powerful.   And the Spirit brings them into fruition in our lives.   Christians, in the power of the Spirit are a counter-culture people.    If we walk in the Spirit and pray in the Spirit, we display His fruit.  We will honour God and build up others.   The world, or society and those we know who don't know Jesus yet, needs that right now.