Orthodoxy vs. Orthopraxy

Posted on November 21, 2012 by

If you love Me, keep My commandments.

First comes orthodoxy, then comes orthopraxy.

I’ve been struggling with this concept for some weeks now, contemplating the intersection of what we do vs. what we think.   I’ve realized that my problem lies primarily in the attempt to separate what God has joined – at least for this life.  We creatures, spirit housed in meat, are creations who stand in both worlds.  The spirit world is more real, perhaps, than the physical world, but we don’t have access to that world as of yet.  And we are explicitly and repeatedly told that we will be judged on what we do with this life, and that what we do – our actions – will result in eternal consequence.

Action, however, must arise from attitude to be meaningful.  God created His children with free will, and He cares what use we make of that will.

Actions can shape attitudes, and this is sometimes used to bad effect.  When the actions take first importance and the attitudes fall by the wayside, you end up with what is known as a Pharisee.  (Pharisees are in all religions – just let a religion take power, get established, they’ll crop right up).   Sometimes people stop worrying about why they’re doing something, they instead get wrapped up in the doing, and then they take that “doing” to greater lengths than was ever expected, making it the end instead of the means.

However, if you let the actions slide, you’ll find that in no time at all the attitudes will follow.  Certainly we make exceptions for those who cannot perform the action – whatever it may be – but for those who can, they ought to do so, for action is important.   What sort of tree is that?  Let’s inspect the fruit.

Orthodoxy comes before orthopraxy, but they are both important.  That’s where people go wrong – devaluing one or the other.  We do this not only in religion, we do it in our interactions with others.

Each and every one of us hopes and fears being known and loved for what is inside, and we call that self the “real self”.  Each and every one of us evaluates the ones around us – known and unknown – by their actions first, motivations second.  (Yes, even your tiny babies.  You say, “Oh Beaulah bites when she’s happy” – you don’t say, “Oh Beaulah kisses people when she wants to get away”).

As much as we understand this to be true, we battle against it.  Primarily because it is so very hard to make our actions and words match what we wish we really were.  Entropy prevents me from being as beautiful as I was at eighteen… how do you judge my interest in pleasing others visually?  You have to know what I have to work with, and only God judges perfectly.  We fear (and rightly) the judgment of our fellow mortals.

Some of us will give up all hope and stop trying – just as they’ll stop reading their Bibles, going to church, praying… because they know that no righteousness of flesh can please God.   They will rail against the unfairness, claiming that the others around them should judge them solely on the content of their character without any evidence whatsoever.

This attitude is evident in marriages across the nation.  “You should love me for me!”  Well, of course that’s true.  What is also true is that if you love in turn, your actions will speak of your regard.   We are mortals, and all we have with which to judge is what is on the outside.

We have to show willingness to work, in all things that are worth working towards.  We will fail, we will fall, we will falter.  What matters is that we have the will – it’s one of the very few things we have of our very own – and that we put that will to work in whatever way we are able.

Orthopraxy will follow from orthodoxy, and is its only proof.

–This is only a fraction of what I have to say on this, and the other ladies of TC have mentioned that this subject is on their hearts as well.  Hopefully we’ll all have more to add to this topic.–