Sometimes the things we spiritualize are just downright laughable. Remember what the Pharisees said in Mark?
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (Mark 7:1-5)
We’ve all been scolded by a parent to wash our hands, but probably rarely by religious figures for religious reasons.
“Ah, Peter—I didn’t see you using soap! You don’t want to go to Hell do you?”
We laugh, but we do the same things. To quote Jesus who quotes Isaiah in Mark 7:7b, we teach “as doctrines the commandments of men.”
“When you come into church, you better be wearing your best. What are those there on your legs son?”
“Oh. They’re called blue jeans. It’s a new thing. Everybody’s doing it these days.”
We see examples like this and we laugh. The fact that we could be classified as good or bad Christians based off of if we washed our hands, brushed our teeth, or showered that morning is about as ridiculous as it gets. I mean, sure, good hygiene is a pretty good practice to have, but to spiritualize it is as odd as spiritualizing what kind of pants you wear.
But the truth is, we’ve all been there. We all know what it’s like to be so upset with a person that we judge them by the stupidest things. We all know what it’s like to call our enemies out on the most minuscule of actions. We all know what it’s like to intentionally look for problems in a person we’re not getting along with.
And we’re also familiar with the awkwardness we feel towards people who have different practices than us. Strangely enough, that awkwardness causes us to question if they’re really a good person or not in the first place. Why didn’t they wash their hands? Why aren’t they living under our traditions and practices and doctrines?
We can spiritualize pants, people!* When we embrace the ways of the Pharisees, we find that there is nothing under the sun that we can’t spiritualize and judge people for.
To quote Jon Foreman in Fiction Family, “Put your God badge down and love someone.”
*Note the comma. “Pants People” are not a thing—to my knowledge anyways.