One issue there’s always a ton of debate over is “proper Christian behavior.” What’s okay, what’s not okay, how far is too far, well you get the picture. A friend of mine recently posed a question on Facebook about that very topic, and I’ve decided to post my answers here. The concept is vitally important and one that shapes our entire world view. It keeps us treading on eggshells made of self-imposed judgement and misguided, obligatory zeal.
Here’s to freedom!
“Question(s): Does something have to have the name Christ in it to be “Christian”? What exactly makes something “Christian”? Does it have to be “Christian” for a Christian to enjoy it? Book, music, movie?
“I think it depends, there is often no black and white. Paul said that those who abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols were right to do so because eating the food would betray their conscience.
He also said the people who ate the same meat because they didn’t feel a shred of guilt would be wrong for stopping just to please the people who didn’t think they should. I think people focus on the first example and not the second. It is JUST as wrong to stop or abstain from something because of religious peer pressure as it is to do something your conscience warns you against.
The only real “rule” that’s given is that the more mature believer in any given situation just let it go and not cause strife by brazenly eating the sacrificed meat in front of others, or by telling others they are wrong for eating the meat. Kind of like the “when in Rome” concept he touches on in the same letter.
How can they both be right though?
I think a good modern comparison would be “curse words.” I don’t feel that saying fuck or any other word carries any weight except for the intended context and the way those hearing interpret it. Therefore I talk freely around friends and family who are not offended.
Conversely, when I’m around people who feel curse words are inherently wrong I abstain. I used to be like the person Paul warned against being. I would try and convince others that I was right and they were wrong. What I was really doing was devaluing their conscience and saying that my convictions were more important than how they felt.
I’ve come to see the advice Paul gave about meat sacrificed to idols as more than just a singular instance, but as a universal truth in Christ. It’s almost like a holy checks and balances system that disallows any person from claiming moral superiority over another, thus violating the law of love.”