I don’t claim that what follows is an original thought; after all, there is nothing new under the sun. But I’ve not heard it called the Ruler Principle, and I thought of this before I heard anyone else talking about this concept:
Consider a standard 12-inch ruler; one end of the ruler marks a position, and the other end is it’s opposite. The ends can be holiness and worldlines, or a conservative position and a liberal position, or good and evil. For the purpose of the rest of this writing, I’m going to use holiness and worldliness; the Christian is commanded to be holy and to avoid wordliness.
The midway point represents a middle-of-the-road position, or the perfect compromise; six inches from either “extreme”. As we examine worldlines, we can take pleasure in the fact that we are “six inches” (as it were) away from worldliness. Sure, we’re not perfect (we tell ourselves), but we’re keeping our distance from wordlines.
The problem is that the position that the world takes is always moving farther away from God and from holiness. If we are making sure that we stay our “six inches” from the world, we are moving farther away from God. Once “the world” has moved 6 inches, we are now exactly where the world used to be. Even if we re-balance to the middle, we are even farther away from God, and closer to the world’s original position.
The problem is that the focus should be on God and not on the world; we should be trying to be as holy as we can, not merely staying a certain distance from the world.
We see this in some segments of Christianity; certain segments like to say “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity”. This sounds good, but isn’t a Biblical quote. And the problem that has demonstrated itself is that, over time, things get moved from the “essentials” bucket to the non-essentials bucket, all in the name of “unity” or charity.
We see this in politics where left and right will compromise, only to have (for example), the left adopt a new, farther out position… to continue to be thought “good guys” and compromise, they have to move farther to the left. It has been said that if you are willing to compromise when the going gets tough, the opposition will always make sure that the going gets tough.
So, there it is — the Ruler Principle: I could have called this “The Wrong Focus” or “The Dangers of Compromise”, but I kind of like this name.