STUMBLING BLOCKS

While the Bible does say that we should not cause "a brother to stumble", we feel like a lot of Christians use this as an excuse to watch out for EVERYTHING that they do, just in case an onlooking Christian brother (or sister) MIGHT be watching. Like, for example, avoiding chowing down on a sandwich piled high with delicious pulled pork, just in case there MAY happen to be a vegetarian Christian watching. While Joey definitely agrees that there are some situations where abstaining might be appropriate, he presents an in-depth look at why this shouldn't always be the case.

Lots of Christians say, “Christians shouldn’t cuss,” because it could “cause another brother to stumble.”  Lots of Christians say “Christians shouldn’t consume alcohol,” “go clubbing,” or “pierce/tat the heck out of their bodies” for the same reason.

Basically, their rationale, which is based on false interpretations of passages like this one, goes something like this:

  1. Drinking a beer may not be a sin in itself. But, drinking a beer could however cause temptation for a recovering alcoholic in the church to get drunk and perhaps relapse.

  2. Or, drinking a beer could also cause a Christian that esteems and looks up to you to be disheartened and frustrated when he sees you drinking a beer, potentially even discouraging him or her to walk a life of victory in Jesus.

  3. You never know when people described in #2 are watching you, thus you should avoid drinking alcohol altogether, or at the very least drink at home and get your unbelieving uncle to bring the booze to your back door.

The Bible DOES say not to be a stumbling block, but I disagree with the above interpretation. Jesus himself didn’t abide by this interpretation of scripture, and thus would have been condemned by Paul’s teachings!

Imagine asking Paul if he’s holier than Jesus. He’d say no every time!

Read carefully: The Son of Man came eating and they called him a glutton. He came drinking and they called him a drunkard. (Matthew 11:19)

Translate this for me, Pastor J. Ok. Thanks for asking. Here we go. Jesus knew that these folks would think he was sinning by his actions and He did it anyway.

Here’s what amazes me about a lot of Christians that stand by their false “don’t be a stumbling block” translation. They are typically (though not always) very unloving and harsh with their words, and often make a habit of elevating the law over grace. Check these scriptures out and tell me what you think.

  1. Don’t have love? You are like a clanging cymbal.

  2. Loving others is the second greatest commandment.

  3. If you preach another gospel, you should be eternally condemned.

Talk about stumbling blocks! They are demonstrating to other Christians how not to love, and they are encouraging bondage to the law rather than freedom in Christ and “bondage” to the Holy Spirit. I’ll quote one of my fathers in the faith, Paul, and say “Go castrate yourself.” Now, I’ll quote my big brother, hero and savior, and say, “You might as well violently drown” if you are going to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Pretty strong language in the Bible, eh? Do you find it offensive? Well, a perversion of the gospel is very offensive to God.

**Special note: I am NOT saying that if your conscience doesn’t allow you to do non-sinful things, such as drinking, that you are promoting law and being unloving. It’s only when you unjustifiably, vehemently place the same regulation on others and look down on them for not maintaining the same standard.

Your unloving words are also a stench of Christianity to the rest of the world, considering they will know our faith by the love we have for one another. Please rethink your position and try to be the salt of the earth. I’ll be trying right next to you, brother and sister, because we are in this together.

I’ll end this discussion by explaining what I think Paul meant by his instruction to not be a stumbling block. Let’s say Matt and I were going to share a six pack of beer (he’d probably pick some nasty light beer). We weren’t expecting Toby to come, but Toby calls and invites himself to hang with us (this actually happens a LOT). Now, Matt and I know that alcohol is a stumbling block for Toby (not really, but bear with the example and don’t throw away your Emery CDs, or write off Toby’s salvation). Because we love Toby and care about his spiritual health, we decide against having beer that night. In fact, depending on the severity of Toby’s struggle, we may even hide them brews. We sacrifice our freedom for the sake of our brother.

Many will likely dislike this point of view and possibly even doubt our Christianity. Well, that’s what the religious folks did to Jesus and just like Jesus loved the Pharisees, we love all you guys and girls too. And I didn’t even need my WWJD bracelet, baby.