There are certain members in my church who are always pressing me to be more strict, or in their parlance to “uphold the standards.” Nothing makes them happier than a sermon that exposes sin or calls for a higher degree of commitment. Even the less fanatical (if I may use the word) members of my congregation see defining theological and ethical boundaries as a major part of my role. It was probably one of my biggest surprises in ministry that many church people actually like theological spankings, even when they’re on the receiving end.
Laurence Iannaccone is an economist who published an explanation of this phenomenon. I’ll leave the summary of the details to Slate magazine which published this article:
The question this essay raises is not whether we have rules and guidelines; they are an emergent property of human interaction. The question is whether our rules and guidelines promote will foster elitism or promote spiritual growth among even the least spiritual member. The Pharisees are a good example of the former, and Jesus is the best example of the later.