At one point I expressed that my own method of interpreting everything is, "the what isn't important, it's the why that matters." Ze digested this for a minute and then said, "but if the 'what' is something that the Bible has clearly stated 'no' to, that's pretty cut and dry." Knowing that ze has very firm opinions about the 'cut and dry' part of the bible that is most often taken out of context, I chose an example that would be more likely to provoke self-reflection (and might inspire further thought) than self-righteousness (which never inspires questioning). I said, "for instance, 'do not lie' is pretty clear, but if one simply follows it without thinking about it, one misses the point, and usually acts badly. If one does not think about the 'why,' one might interpret this to mean 'do not speak untruth' and end up with a life full of unspoken lies. If one does consider the 'why,' one might realize that the point of not lying is to have no barriers between you and other people, to be able to trust fully and love utterly. At that point, not lying becomes something one does because it brings the most joy, not just because someone at some point declared it a 'law.'"
What I didn't think about at the time was the original phrasing of that 'law' -- "do not bear false witness against your neighbor." That's a lot more specific, and one could take that to mean that it's fine to lie, as long as it's not about someone you know; thus, the 'what' is very different. But if one looks for the reason behind it, I think one might find a similar 'why.' If everyone followed this, everyone would have greater trust in their neighbors and would be able to form stronger bonds. If greater trust and stronger bonds are the point and one is trying to live by the 'why', then what seems like a very specific 'law' becomes a much broader (and more useful) goal -- becoming more trustworthy and connecting with people on a deeper level.
LJ idol topic 5: "Bearing False Witness"