Home » Communication » Stumbling Stones Among Us

Stumbling Stones Among Us

stumbling stones among us croppedSome Scriptures cause me pain, especially when held in tension with others… seemingly conflicting ideas pulling at the soul, demanding wisdom… and let’s face it, wisdom can be exhausting. It’s so much easier to either throw caution to the wind or to develop a strict moral code in which every issue is settled through what I call toggle-switch morality. Click! Sin. Click! Not Sin. No thinking required. No tension. No pain. No mercy. No wisdom.

Discussions of Christian freedom in regard to matters of conscience, like the eating of meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, or non-vegetarianism and the consumption of alcohol in Romans 14:1-23, stand in tension, even in those passages with the needs for both non-judgmentalism and love and care for those with weakness.

The conscience of some is strong; they’re little influenced by peer pressure, not easily ensnared by substances, able to walk through many a fire unsinged. By their example, however, they can easily lead weaker souls into destructive situations. If it’s okay for them, why not me?

Paul warns of this. 1 Corinthians 8:11  says, “And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.” Romans 14:15 concurs, “For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” Jesus died for them… what am I willing to do for them… or not do?

Let me illustrate.

My church growing up was rather liberal with alcohol. They regarded drunkenness as a sin, but seemed little bothered by skating boldly over thin, beer-soaked ice in that regard.

At a Christmas party held at a private residence, one of the guests, an elder’s wife, thought it would be funny to spike the punch. What a hoot it was when two married “recovering alcoholics” at the party drank the punch unawares, left driving drunk, and didn’t stop their alcohol fueled nightmare for days, finally calling my father to come help them.

Our youth group leader, a good man, a prosperous construction company owner, enjoyed a beer now then with the guys. He would hire teens from the church to keep them busy during the summers and to help cultivate their work ethic. His confiscation of my life one summer, demanding that I take a job with him, saved me from throwing over my morals during a rough patch in my walk with the Lord. I am forever grateful for his effect on my life. But… that occasional beer with the guys was the stimulus to a life of alcohol abuse for another of the teens. The man never boasted of his beer, he simply hired one of the teens who saw him on the job site with one. This encouraged this teen to accept a beer at a friend’s party. Only he found that alcohol for him was not an occasional thing. It snared him. He developed a drinking problem. He tried for a time in his late teens to break free, but eventually gave himself to it and walked away from Christ.

At another church, an acquaintance of mine had been saved out of a life of alcoholism. The doctors had told him that he’d destroyed his body and that if he didn’t stop drinking he would not live out the year. He was a mean drunk. He tried to change. He came to church. He got saved. He lived without alcohol for many years. He was no angel, but he tried hard to allow Christ to help him be a better man. Then at a guys party, some of those there, free in Jesus with a little alcohol, coaxed him. They waved away his refusal with promises that Jesus had changed him. A little couldn’t hurt him. Jesus would help him control himself. He was dead within a few months, just as the doctors had promised him. By the time he came to himself, it was too late. Meeting his wife one day at the door with desperate cries of pain and trouble, repenting in the hospital to his family for going back to the bottle, didn’t save his life. He was 39.

I ask myself, what do those involved in these situations think of their role? Do they accept any responsibility for what their freedom did to weaker souls for whom Christ died? What of me? How has my freedom hurt others unawares? What is my responsibility for unknown numbers who, lured on by my liberties, and at times by my sin, stumbled, fell, and, perhaps, fell away?

There are a lot of gray areas. Indeed, a wisdom approach to life as opposed to a toggle switch morality creates many of them. We face issues of TV, Movies, Music, Diet, Dress, Sexuality, Language, Jest, Dating… etc. We tussle with loving the sinner and hating the sin and are not always certain what lines to draw or exactly where to draw them when striving to do so.

When I was in youth group we would ask that same leader with the beer, “How far can we go? How much can we get away with without sin?” He always said the same thing. “If your goal is to be as self-indulgent as possible, you’ve already crossed the line.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: