Our verses for today:
14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. For although all things are clean, it is wrong to cause anyone to stumble by what you eat. 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
There are a number of reasons why I choose not to drink alcohol. It’s not that I think drinking is a sin — it’s clearly not. (Jesus drank and served wine and turned water into it.) So why don’t I drink? Part of it is for my sake (I think I would really like it and am afraid of my tendancy to overindulge in such pleasures).
But a big part of my choice not to drink is the effect my drinking might have on others. I take special care because I work with teenagers who already are influenced toward illegal, underage drinking by their peer culture. I want them to see that it’s ok NOT to drink. That it’s not a need. That people can be perfectly content without it. Even people who could drink can be ok abstaining from it. That it’s possible to say “no” in a world where most people always say “yes.”
It’s the same for R-rated movies–i’ts my general practice to avoid them (with rare exceptions, such as The Passion). I don’t believe every R-rated movie is a sin to watch (although most probably are) and I realize that the movie ratings aren’t the sole measurement of a movie’s decency. But I avoid them as a rule partly for me (I am careful to keep my mind clear of destructive images, language, and attitudes) and partly for sake of the teens (I want them to know that it’s possible to be perfectly happy without these types of films).
For me these are things I need to do to be a good shepherd to them. Today’s verses back me up I think. The things aren’t necessarily bad in themselves, but their effects can be. Thus I can lay easily them aside.
But I also need to be careful not to judge others who take a different stance on these issues and extend to them grace and freedom in Christ, knowing that they also will answer to God for their choices just as I will. I’m glad to say God’s allowed me to grow a lot in this area over the past few years.