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There is a story about a student at Cambridge University in England who entered the classroom on exam day and asked the proctor to bring him cakes and ale. The proctor refused, expressing astonishment at the young student’s audacity. At this point the student read from the four-hundred-year-old Laws of Cambridge, which were written in Latin and still somewhat in effect.

The passage read by the student said, "Gentlemen sitting for examinations may request and require Cakes and Ale." The proctor was forced to comply. Pepsi and hamburgers were judged the modern equivalent, so the necessary accommodations were made for the student. After all, the law was on his side.

Three weeks later the student was summoned to the office of Academic Affairs to face disciplinary action and was assessed a fine of five pounds (about $7.50, the cost of the meal). He was not fined for demanding cakes and ale, but for blatantly disregarding another obscure Cambridge law: he had failed to wear a sword to the examination.

God’s Law is a bit like that. There are laws that we chose to point out to others as a way of judging them while ignoring other aspects of the law. A popular one right now is Deuteronomy 22:5 “A woman must not put on men’s clothing, and a man must not wear women’s clothing. Anyone who does this is detestable in the sight of the Lord your God.”

But three verses down we read, “When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof. That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.”

I know when we read this we think “That only applies to flat roofs.” But the argument could be made that God expected all houses to have flat roofs. As you can see, the Law can create a dilemma around us.

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