In Roger’s and Hammerstein’s musical, “Oklahoma,” Ado Annie Carnes declares, “I’m just a girl who can’t say no.”
I love those kinds of people because, well, truthfully for a guy whose name starts with “no,” I really hate the word.
For instance, whenever the 16-year-old ticket seller tells this 55-year-old movie patron that he can’t take the 64 oz. Big Gulp decaf diet cola into the theater, I have an excuse.
“Oh, really?” I ask. “I figured that since I’m buying the jumbo refillable popcorn, you’d let me slide past you.”
This is when my wife will ask to buy a ticket for a different movie.
That’s why I’ve devised a new excuse for next time: “I’m allergic to caffeinated diet, and that’s a disability you have to accommodate under the ADA.”
Nah, I probably won’t be using that one, unless you think it would work.
Fortunately, God is pretty much a “yes man.” He says yes to love. He says yes to relationships. And he also says yes to limits.
“Limits?” you ask.
Yes, limits. Moses recorded those limits in an ancient text called the “Ten Commandments.” And while most of us acknowledge their wisdom, it’s the “thou shalt not” part that gives us a problem.
For example, God says, “Thou shall not commit murder” and we ignore its implication to waging war or implementing the death penalty. And do we dare examine its insinuation for abortion?
God says, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” but we refuse to examine how it impacts platonic relationships or how it applies to pornography.
God says, “Thou shall not steal,” but we fudge a few lines on our taxes.
God says, “Thou shall not give false testimony against your neighbor,” but we insist that our gossip is just “sharing our concerns.”
God says, “Thou shall not covet,” but we assume a second mortgage to buy the big boy toys and then wonder how we lost our house.
These are the limits God sets in the same way a caring parent sets limits. And if you discount the Ten Commandments because they come from Judeo Christian heritage, consider that most world religions have similar limits. Hindus have The Four Aims of Hinduism;’ Buddhism has the Eight Fold Path; and Muslims have The Five Pillars. Even Atheistic Humanists have The Standard Ten Commandments.
If there’s a loophole out there, I haven’t found it. The Ten Commandments are not confused with legalese jargon like “Thou (hereinafter known as the Party of the First Part) shalt not covet thy neighbor’s (hereinafter known as the Party of the Second Part) wife, excepting insofar as the Party of the Second Part fulfills the obligations hereinafter set forth, including, but not limited to, all sections and subsections listed below.”
Nope, just “Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.” Done.
Of course, God knows that whether it’s lust over Nancy Neighbor or greed with Lady Luck, the mind turns to peanut butter – very creative peanut butter that can come up with some doozies as far as rationalizing and justifying why “in my case it’s different.’’
That’s why Jesus saw a way to make God into a Yes-God when he said, “let everything hang on these two commandments: 1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart. 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.”
At the end of the day you’ll probably find that these commandments are much simpler and leave you with fewer excuses. The best part is that you’ll also find that when it comes to love, “He’s just a God who can’t say “No.”