Last Sunday’s sermon has generated a little more conversation than most, as it is a complicated passage, with nuanced counsel. And I’m sure I didn’t communicate or apply that counsel as clearly as I could have. There is also the challenge of trying to relate an ancient cultural problem (idol meat) to current contextual issues, and current issues may not be directly parallel. Beyond that, I think we, when making ethical decisions, are accustomed to only thinking in categories of right/wrong and lawful/illegal. These are crucially important categories, but not the only framework we must use when thinking like a Christian. We must also think through the lenses of what is helpful and gracious before others, what is glorifying to God, and what is most effective for making the gospel and Jesus known. With that, here are some good questions to think through as we make ethical decisions.
- Is it affirmed or outlawed in Scripture? (And in the New Testament specifically, as we are not under the Covenant of Moses.)
- Is my own conscience at all unsure about this, knowing that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”?
- Will it make non-Christians think I approve of sinful things?
- Will it make Christians think clearly sinful things are no big deal?
- Will it cause unnecessary offense?
- Am I doing/not doing this only to placate unreasonable burdens/convictions from others?
- Will it make the gospel more or less appealing?
- Will I be able to praise God for it, and while doing it?
That’s a long list of questions. But even some of these would certainly help us glorify God in all things, as we should!