This has always been a VERY difficult topic for me. To be honest I shy away from discussions of this topic precisely because of the extremely high level of contention. I admit that I do like a good argument, heated discussions and the opportunity to practice the "art of persuasion". This does NOT mean proselytization! I thoroughly accept and practice that ALL people everywhere are fully at liberty to believe whatever they want to believe no matter how "crazy", "insane", asinine, bassackwards or totally ridiculous it may appear to be to me or to anyone else. This is the exercise of free will. Sure, I would like for everyone to agree with me. I do not like being disliked by anyone and I would certainly like to be friends with everyone. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. Nevertheless, I still look for the good in everyone whether we share similar thinking and beliefs or not For the purposes of this thread it will be necessary to clearly define terms in order to maintain a civil discussion and NOT violate the forum Guidelines. First I will point out that biblical "swearing" is the making of a vow (a commitment). It does NOT mean the use of what is considered "foul language" (go see the "7 words you can't say on tv" by George Carlin) Yes. I do cuss. Enough at times to embarrass a sailor. I also know that there is indeed a time to use use such words to effectively communicate an idea or to make a point. They are also useful at times for purposes of levity (see bassackwards above) and to show that I am indeed a real human. When I speak of religion and specifically of Judeo-Christianity, I mean the man-made system(s) of rituals, practices and doctrines invented by men. This means brand name religions (Roman Catholicism/Baptists/Ana-baptists/Methodists/Presbyterians, etc.) and all the brand x varieties that divided off from the brand names over such things as whether Adam was a blonde or a brunette. Regardless of brand of religion let me state for the record that I do NOT accept the tenets (beliefs) of any such religion. Further I think all such religions are an affront to God and wholly detrimental to Judeo-Christianity. Christians adhering to the doctrines of men make Christians themselves their own worst enemy and without reason to be concerned about Beelzebub, Satan or any of their minions. Now that I have said that, let me say that I do NOT intend to ruffle feathers here. I merely desire to address some very clear and too long standing issues that have plagued Christianity for many centuries. Another definition - "doctrines of men" - biblical references (KJV) Matthew 15:9 King James Version (KJV) 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:7 King James Version (KJV) 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Colossians 2:22 King James Version (KJV) 22Which all are to perish with the using after the commandments and doctrines of men? The contexts around these verses give a clear definition of the "doctrines of men". Yes, I do drop the word commandments as I assume any student of the bible is aware of or at least ought to be. Since Matthew 15:9 is the first occurrence (first occurrence sets the foundation for the biblical understanding of this phrase. This applies to individual words also whenever studying the bible) of this phrase I will begin here to set a solid foundation for this definition and understanding. Matthew 15 1Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, (so here is the setup, the scribes and pharisees come to Jesus. these guys are angry, threatened in their social/political/financial position and their hold on the populace is rapidly waning. they are desperately seeking for a way to "spin" Jesus and his interpretation of the torah to make make him appear as a charlatan, a madman, a heretic or anything that will deeply degrade him in the eyes of the people. so they feign meekness and ask him the following question...) 2Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (poor scribes and pharisees. Locking their hearts and minds into the letter of the law and failing to understand and accept the spirit of the law they blind themselves...) 3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (Whoa! This is bold! Now Jesus will quote the law and directly compare it to the doctrines and commandments of the scribes and pharisees) 4For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the root and purpose of the doctrines of men which we will see expanded in the Colossians. He then went on to conclude this confrontation with the scribes and pharisees...) 7Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Yep! THAT is some conclusion! Now he proceeds to simplify/clarify for the people who witnessed this confrontation) 10And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (He simply planted the seed of understanding. The following question by Peter shows that his disciples were steeped in the traditions of the scribes and pharisees. They were still in the process of awakening to spiritual matters.. the exchange is quite enlightening and shows the impact of thoughts and words...) 12Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. 15Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. 16And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 17Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. 21Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. So what do we have here as a basis for understanding the doctrines of men? That they are antithetical to God and His will for those who are His. These doctrines (ways of believing and acting correctly according to some standard) however subtly or directly stand in direct opposition to God, His Word and work to obfuscate spiritual understanding and any resultant benefits. In the following context this will be expanded further and applies directly to the Christians of then and now. Colossians 2:20-3:1 King James Version (KJV) 20Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (This speaks directly to ALL Christians and speaks clearly of the social and legal(state) impositions on ALL people including Christians) 21(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22Which all are to perish with the using after the commandments and doctrines of men? (Don't eat that bacon because it will increase your cholesterol! Don't smoke because you will die. Don't drink! don't cross the street on a red light! etc., etc. ad infinitum) 23Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. (Yes! Indeed all of these things do have a show of wisdom in both preserving and strengthening body and mind. Yes! Vitamins are good for you. Yes a low carb high protein and fat diet is good for you. Yes! Maybe NOT smoking will prolong your life Yes! Repressing your emotions makes a good show of you in public. Yes! Exercising is indeed healthy. All of these work to enhance the temporal life of your flesh. But they do not strengthen you spiritually. They do not enhance your fellowship with God.Whether imposed socially/culturally, imposed by Pastor such and such or the Right Reverend So and So or imposed by the state by use of legislation these things do NOT enhance your relationship with God and offer little if any spiritual strengthening) Colossians 3 1If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (The only answer for those who are or desire to be spiritually minded Christians) So from the above I hope I impart to you my understanding and definition of the doctrines of men. As a parting bit of understanding the following the ONLY place in the bible where the words religion and religious appear: James 1:25-27 King James Version (KJV) 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. A better rendering (translation) of the words religion and religious would be "devotion" No matter who offers you, the Christian, instruction of any type it is your responsibility to check it against what is said in the bible relating to that topic. No. this does not include whether or not you choose Windows 7 or a Linux or Mac operating system. Some days we just have to make our own decisions. Although some people are religious followers/users of these or other particular items and they would "rather fight than switch" (Tareyton Cigarette commercial tag line). Instead we are encouraged to " 21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." I Thess 5:21 Notice that it does NOT say "Prove all people: hold fast to those who agree with you". Hear the other person out. Take the time to clarify what you are saying, give definitions where you can. Never attack the person...ONLY the argument. If you feel the "need" to argue please take it to the Dojo and leave it in the Dojo. I'm going to end this post with communicating to you my desire that we use this thread to discuss Judeo-Christianity in a civilized manner and choose to not attempt to impose doctrines of men on one another and to instead "seek those things which are above".