03 April 2007

Causing a brother and sister to stumble!

In returning to the Bible Study I had last Thursday; one of the topics that came up was what is the definition of 'causing a brother to stumble'?
We discussed a lot of our own experiences, and some hypothetical ones. To me, it kind of boiled down to this:

Paul was addressing a specific situation - whether you should eat meat sacrificed to idols in the presence of those that could not do so in a matter of good conscience. This came down to the issue of certain people, who for whatever reason had a conflict within themselves that they could not worship the true God while eating meat that was sacrificed to another god, that then in turn was sold in the marketplace.

This is akin to my wifes and I's relationship to a couple dear friends of ours. They, as a matter of conscience, are vegans. I immensely respect that. And they make great vegan dishes!

When they come to our place, we make a vegan meal for all of us to share. We don't make two separate meals so we can have our meat! (We're not big meat fans anyway- it's mostly cheese that I love!) We, out of love for them, don't want them to feel uncomfortable by preparing two different meals.

They are very aware that they are a minority. When we go out to eat, they don't have any issues with others ordering meat dishes. But when in each others home, we honor and respect them.

That's probably an over explanation but it seems that this verse is used for everything. Overused. To the point when some voices are quieted to keep the peace with the other voices. To the point of loosing some of the diversity we should enjoy in the body of Christ.

Romans 14-15 have the over lying theme of doing everything out of love and respect for each other. If I were to have dinner with a recovering alcoholic, I would order a Mountain Dew for example... unless this person told me it's okay to get beer, or Vodka Martini.

It really comes down to the other person and their walk with God. If their walk would get tripped up, I'd refrain, or ask to make sure.

If it's only a matter of religious pride so they can point fingers to show me how unholy I am, I would be tempted to not change my behavior, unless lead by the Holy Spirit otherwise.

Just another example of the Bible drawing us into relationship with God and not something that gives us a new set of rules to follow as a step to holiness.


Makeesha said...

good thoughts. I think this is a good example of how important it is to keep in mind the spirit of the Law and not get caught up in the letter of the law. Because, in all actuality, there is no "letter of the law" here - it's a vague admonition that emerged from a specific situation. The principle still applies but practical application is purely up for interpretation.

I hear this a lot when people are talking about how girls dress. Which pisses me off royally. As if girls' bodies were nothing more than dirty sex objects needing to be kept hidden. The reason why girls shouldn't flaunt their assets actually has very little to do with this verse...just another example of people using the bible as a tool of propaganda

paul said...

I think the verse/thought for me is an encouragement to be other centred - i like your examples of vegans and alcoholics. Let's face it whilst we might not be the one's stumbling ourselves can i be other centred/loving enough to be prepared to sacrifice some of my rights or limit my freedoms to try and help.

Of course the next thought is that when we stumble am i gonna be around to help me brother or sister get back to their feet again and are they gonna be there for me.

I think Mak makes a good point, girls bodies are not dirty sex objects - trouble is that many men don't communicate the effect of a flaunted body - yes it is true i am staring at your cleavage, legs etc :)

Makeesha said...

I agree with your comment paul about being "other centered" - - but the motivation for that shouldn't just be so that the "other" doesn't stumble because then we do two things 1. we focus too strongly on this false dualism that is so prevalent and 2. we easily fall into judgment of the other because then the fault is on them and the onus to be righteous is on us.