I recently had an interesting discussion (maybe even a debate) with a former instructor whom I will call Richard (not his real name) from the bible school I attended about the issue of “causing others to stumble”, “giving people license to do something” “avoiding the very appearance of evil”. It’s the whole philosophy of “people will do in excess what I do in moderation”, which frankly is a gross error in thinking.
Richard used this scripture to try and support his argument:
1 Corinthians 8:9 “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”
Then went on to explain that to mean that, “if a leader (Christian) is to have a tattoo for example that gives freedom, or license to others to get tattoos” or “if a leader drinks alcohol that gives people (youth is what he said specifically) license to drink and get drunk…” His conclusion was that as a leader (Christian) we should not do anything that would cause the “weak” to stumble.
I understand his “interpretation”, but his “application” is completely off-base! Here is why; if you use his argument (or application) with other things it falls apart. For example; I engage in regular sexual intimacy with my wife… so should I stop that so that I do not cause “weak” youth to stumble by following my example? NO! Because I am “having sexual relations” within God’s set boundaries – marriage! Should I stop eating food because it may cause others to “stumble” and become a glutton? NO! So, should I stop working so that I do not cause someone to become a “workaholic”? NO! Do you see how ridiculous that is? Let me give one more; the Bible says:
1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
So, I guess this means that we should stay away from money, and not have anything to do with it! We especially shouldn’t pocess any of it! We should “avoid the very appearance of evil”, right?
1 Thessalonians 5:22b “Throw out anything tainted with evil.” – MSG
I would like to go on TV and encourage all who want to rid themselves of evil to send their money to Olathe Life Fellowship! We’ll use it for good! And we will not buy $20,000 toilet seats with it, or private jets for our kids to fly to the Bahamas!
Again, this is such a mis-used philosophy of many legalistic hypocritical Christians that drives people away from the things of God.
What was interesting to me is that really Richard’s argument was over alcohol. So I asked him, “Do you feel that drinking alcohol is a sin? He said, “No.” I feel that is interesting because to me that is the real issue at hand; sin. If it is not sin, then help me understand the problem? So then I went on to explain that I feel for Christians the best thing we can do for the world around us (including our children) is to be an example of moderation, how to do things responsibly, how to do things RIGHT (if we choose to do them)… ultimately teaching our children to avoid SIN… and even more importantly teach our children to Love God, and Love their neighbor!
The best thing we can do for our youth is show them, sex is right and most fulfilling within a committed married relationship! Drinking alcohol (if you choose to drink it) is best (or only okay) when you are of legal age (21) and when it’s done in moderation (no drunkenness or driving!) Jesus drank wine, but He didn’t get drunk!
Side note: I am not encouraging anyone to do anything that they feel is wrong, or sinful. If you feel something is wrong or sinful, please do not do it! And it’s wonderful to abstain if you feel that is what is right for you to do! There are things I do not do (like eat junk food), not because it is a sin to eat it, but because I personally feel it’s harmful to my body (the temple). We all need to do what this scripture says:
Philippians 2:12 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Another problem with Richard’s argument is that the scripture he used to try and support his “no drinking” position is talking about food offered to idols, not alcohol or tattoos… it’s talking about meat offered in idol sacrifices! If we are going to use a scripture then let’s use it in context! This is the first and most important rule in Biblical Interpretation.
1 Corinthians 8: 10-13 “For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
This is part of the problem with Christianity, when you have religious views that are taught as “biblical” and they are not! Legalism at its worst!
1 Timothy 4:1-5 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
The bottom line is that each of us needs to follow our own hearts or consciences towards God. What is HE leading me to do! Not religious rules and regulations, or mans legalistic ideas. The bible clearly states that the LAW KILLS! It’s Christ’s sacrificial death that freed us from the LAW and made us free from sin and death.
We should all want to live lives that are glorifying to God and His work here on earth!
Read Romans 8