I recently read a novel and its sequels (Finding Nouf, City of Veil, Kingdom of Strangers, by Zoe Ferraris). The location is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and its desert environs. What fascinated me was the Morality Police who could arrest a woman for driving a car, not walking behind the man she was with, not wearing appropriate covering clothing, and various other offenses by both men and women who would be publicly shamed (and worse)for such actions. [Zoe Ferraris was told to cover her hands with gloves and wear socks because she was so white.]
This differs little from the 1st Century Pharisees in Israel who sometimes went around looking for “sins” to uncover. (unwashed hands before eating, working on the Sabbath, and the like).
I recently discovered a certain Christian denomination (and I’m sure there are others) that refuses to allow into membership people who drink alcoholic beverages or smoke. For those who, as it says in Colossians 2, still "submit to regulations, do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" and I would add: do not drink, do not smoke, do not dance, do not, do not, do not. . . Colossians reminds us that these are only human commands and only appear to promote piety, "but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence." Christians should certainly remind their alcoholic friends not to drink, their drug-addicted friends drug to stay away from drugs, and their technology addicted friends to leave their cell phones behind. But, to exclude people from the congregation on the basis of personal habits is not something that Jesus ever practiced. He was highly inclusive, making the best wine for a neighbor’s wedding at Cana, socializing with the enemy, the thief (tax collector), and sharing life with both the religious and irreligious, the wealthy and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. So, instead of being Temple Policemen, Colossians 3 says Christians are to get rid of slander, abusive language, and lies, and not practice greed, fornication, and impurity, but instead to practice "compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience" and, not the least, forgiveness and love.
Once we start being Temple Policeman, we are just like the Taliban, the Morality Police in Saudi Arabia, or any other repressive society. So let's get rid of any inclination we have to be Temple Policemen or Morality Police. As Christians, we are to walk in love and forgiveness, humility (there, but for the grace of God, go I) and kindness.
Picture of Saudi Woman trying on jewelry by Nouf Kinani (Gold and Silver Jewelry in Downtown Jeddah) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons