Rules and regs, laws and edicts govern our society. The church is no different than any other institution. In order to maintain an orderly system of operation, it is necessary to have some form of explanations as to why certain things are acceptable, and others are not. Unfortunately, there are some churches that major on the systems, and minor on the love. When legalism superceeds the grace that God provides, it ceases to be God-governed and becomes man-governed.
That does not mean that there is no need for guidelines for our behavior. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have all the guidelines we need for right and righteous living. Ephesians 5 in two verses gives us some things NOT TO DO:
3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. Ephesians 5:3-4 (MSG)
Very clearly, we see that there can be a danger in even love. If not bridled, love can turn into lust. This lust can lead to a "a downhill slide" that has terrible repercussions. Our flesh can sometimes get confused about what is acceptable. Hence, many churches have established customs in their church that a man is not to be alone with a woman other than his wife, for example. It is for sure that for every rule made, there was an infraction that necessitated it.
Then, there are those who pray "gossip". What starts out as "concern" – may really be the entry way for a full blown discussion on someone else’s business. We should at all costs refuse to be a "garbage collector".
Then there are those seemingly harmless jokes – a bit off-color, but all in fun. What appears to be harmless can send both the speaker and the hearer on another downward spiral. As it states above, "that kind of talk doesn’t fit our style".
Well, if these are all things we can’t do – what CAN we do? Ephesians 4 ends with that simple, but complete admonition – "Thanksgiving is our dialiect". We can do an abundance of that!