It has always been a source of wonder to me to observe the ease with which people apply a double standard. There are many facets of life in which they readily accept that bending the rules is impossible, while in others they insist that they must be bent, sometimes to the point that the rule is abolished.

In the scientific laboratory we understand that we cannot bend the rule. Water is always composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. The slightest deviation is impossible. Nor can the rule be bent in music as well. The conductor of a great symphony cannot allow each player even so much as a half note of difference from the written note, lest he invite chaos and disharmony. The mathematics teacher must demand the same loyalty to the rules. Geometry, trigonometry, or even simple arithmetic simply cannot allow any variation from each accuracy. The solution of a problem is either right or it is wrong; there simply cannot be an in-between. Imagine, if you can, the chaos that would result on the athletic field if the referee allowed each player to bend the rules ever so slightly. No, if the game is ever to be played, it will need to be played according to the rules and not by individual whim. I wonder how long you would take your automobile to a mechanic who did not believe in making repairs according to instructions, but replaced your battery with one of a different voltage because he liked its color better?

Life is full of rules, and they bring order out of chaos, insure safety in times of danger, help us to understand nature, enable us to repeat our successes and avoid our mistakes. More often than not, we understand that we bend the rules at our own peril.

How then do we expect that bending the rules be allowed in matters of faith and morals? Why do we demand that bending the rules of conduct be permitted when those rules are inconvenient or unsuitable for our purposes? The results are always the same; as we bend these rules, we ignore our better judgement, and pay a price far larger than the price of respecting them. We should take care then, to respect the rules of Christian morality as carefully as we do the rules of arithmetic; in both rules 2 + 2 will never make 5.