Today’s idol-burger

A church member criticizes another believer for mowing grass on Sunday afternoon, saying that it causes him to “stumble.” Another church member criticizes a believer for drinking a beer with his supper, claiming it causes him to “stumble.”

In 1 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul addresses “stumbling blocks”, but not mowing grass or drinking beer. Paul addressed a situation in which formerly pagan idol-worshipers had been converted to Christ. Because they came out of the culture that sacrificed animals to pagan gods, and the unused meat was sold to the markets and then sold to the public, they were sensitive to the use of that meat by other believers.

Paul seems to direct mature believers — those who had “knowledge” and whose conscience was not “weak” — to be aware of such problems and to follow his lead in avoiding the eating of meat if it causes the weaker brother to stumble.

But “stumbling” seemed much more than merely being offended, or learning about a new freedom in Christ. To Paul, stumbling seemed to involve the operation of the conscience to avoid certain behavior — eating the proverbial “idol-burger” — and being tempted to eat the burger by seeing other believers eat.

Our anecdotal episodes of mowing grass and drinking beer with supper don’t seem to fit with Paul’s description.

What situations today correspond to that which Paul described? Is it simply a new believer, who was brought up believing that Christians don’t drink beer, then seeing a fellow believer drink beer? Is it simply a believer witnessing another believer mowing his grass on Sunday and beginning to mow his own grass on Sunday?

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