When I was 8 years old, I went to visit my grandparents on their farm. My grandfather had at that time not only cows but an old nag of a horse he got specifically for the grandkids to ride. In order to keep the horse from waddling off (since it couldn’t really run very well), he put up an electric fence.
He took me and my brothers out to show us the horse, and then after pointing out the mare, turned to give us instructions: “Boys, this is an electric fence. That means it’s hot, and if you touch it, it’s going to shock you. Don’t touch the fence.”
I remember the immediate feeling inside me:
How bad will it hurt?
Why can’t I go in there with the horse?
That piece of grass inside the fence looks so much more fun than the thousand acres outside the fence.
I’m 8 years old. I bet it might hurt my 5-year-old brother, but not me.
Such is the case with the law. We are given a boundary, and even as children, we immediately begin to think of the benefits of crossing it. We have the ingrained, fallen notion that boundaries are an infringement on our freedom. That somewhere, someone wants to make sure we don’t have all that we could, and so we want to rebel. We want to cross the line. We want to grab the fence just because someone told us we shouldn’t do so.
Surely there has never been an 8-year-old, when confronted with such a choice, actually thought to himself, “Thank God for my grandfather. If he had not told me about the fence, I would have grabbed it. My grandfather could have let that happen and then laughed his way into the house at my pain. He must love me greatly and deeply, and I know it precisely because he gave me this boundary not to cross.”
Boundaries don’t reflect lack of love. They reveal the depth of love.
But, like an 8-year-old in on a Texas farm, we still love to see what it feels like to grab the electric fence.
And by the way, it hurts.