Here’s some gotcha scriptures:
“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat [or drink] something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:21-23 (http://bible.com/116/rom.14.21-23.NLT)
I eat meat, and I have an occasional glass or two of wine or beer. Remember, in the scriptures, Jesus drank wine. I don’t drink to get drunk, and whatever I drink, it’s because I enjoy the flavor. I enjoy the flavors of meat, and enjoyed a plate of lamb fries the other night. Many people choose not to drink because the taste is not enjoyable to them. Others choose not to drink because the consequences of even a single drink would be to throw them back into an addiction. Eating meat, or rather, not eating meat, is a choice some make for health reasons, and others just choose not to eat it. I have to respect the choices of each person, whether I agree with them or not. Remember free will? It applies to everyone, not just me. Sometimes, respecting another person’s choice is for me to refrain from drinking in front of them, or not having a steak (or lamb fries 😊 ) when sharing a meal. By choosing to support their choice, rather than challenge it, I may be helping them to keep to their conviction. If I choose to drink in front of an alcoholic, or eat something another person believes is wrong, I am sinning by throwing up stumbling blocks in front of that person. Make sense?
I’m not advocating for vegans or vegetarians, and I don’t think prohibition solves anything. I know that when I choose to have meat or a glass of wine or a beer, I’m not doing anything wrong as far as it pertains to me. Growing up as a PK (Preacher’s kid), my Dad was strict about how things we did could be perceived by others. We weren’t allowed to go to movies, because someone might see us and assume that all movies were okay to go to, including what would now be classified as R-rated or X-rated. Perception, not reality. We didn’t go to parties or dances outside of church-sponsored, because of the possibility (or probability!) of drinking and other things teenagers so often get caught up in. Again, it was all about the perception that someone would see us there, and make assumptions about our behaviour… not the reality of it. I didn’t really understand, and I chafed under his restrictions, even though I obeyed them, mostly. Once I left home, let’s just say that I considered myself above such rules, for years.
Now, I understand why my Dad had those rules. He was a firm believer and advocate for verse 21-22a (and of all scripture):
“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. ” – Romans 14:21-22a (http://bible.com/116/rom.14.21-22.NLT)
I may know that there is nothing wrong with my having a glass of wine, but I also know that drinking one in front of someone who is struggling with addiction would be wrong; therefore, it would be a sin for me to do so. Paul goes on to say this to us:
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the LORD. For even Christ didn’t live to please Himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult You, O GOD, have fallen on me.” Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” – Romans 15:1-4 (http://bible.com/116/rom.15.1-4.NLT)
I will continue to have my wine or beer, and I doubt that I will ever stop eating meat. I take seriously Paul’s admonition in verses 1-2 in chapter 15 that I need to be considerate of others feelings and struggles. As Christians, we especially need to be looking at verse 3. “For even Christ did not live to please Himself.” Our lives here on earth shouldn’t be about us. They should be about Jesus Christ and the eternity He offers us, and about sharing that Good News with others…. something I admit to failing miserably.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your Salvation!