I’m not doing too well with this idea of abstaining from something . . . anything . . . just because it’s a problem for someone else. And yet, if I hold true to the concept of the “sacred other,” can I choose to do anything else?
I Corinthians 8:13
Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
Sometimes, these choices are a cakewalk. Obviously, if I have friends who struggle with alcoholism, I would not guzzle around them. That’s insensitive. But then, the cost to me for not drinking in their presence is minimal. But what about other things? What about movies or books that cause my conservative friends to stumble? What about eating meat around my vegetarian/vegan friends? What about wearing dresses instead of pants around traditional Mennonites or Amish?
There are such fine lines between being true to oneself, being a chameleon for the sake of fitting in, and choosing to abstain out of concern for the other.
I believe my previous “unconsciousness” in these choices were the ultimate problem. I might abstain but I did not do it out of love, but with resentment and even negative judgments.
It’s a type of reluctant obedience that is no better than just going ahead and doing it.
And yet, Jesus stretched a lot of observers to places they did not want to go. He ate without ritual washing, he allowed sinners to touch him, he healed and touched contagious disease. He broke Jewish laws with knowledge but also with kindness.
It all comes back to love and motive. Abstaining for the sake of another should be conscious and intentional. And probably, that act should be accompanied by conversation.
Keep me mindful today Lord.