Another Thought On Christian Liberty

I appreciate the input from the readers in the last post. As I have given further thought to being able to distinguish between moral absolute/mandate/principle or matter of liberty, this thought occurred to me:

If there is any loophole in the issue, if there is ever a circumstance in which it might be considered “ok” to do it (or not do it), then it becomes subjective and by default must be considered a matter of Christian liberty.

What do you think?


15 responses to “Another Thought On Christian Liberty

  1. I think that loopholes are things pondered in the head.. loopholes don’t exist in the heart πŸ™‚

  2. KB, I’m not sure I follow you. Can I get you to clarify a little?

    My thought in this was in reference to one of the conversations I mentioned in the previous post. Someone said something to this effect concerning the issue at hand, “I believe it is wrong except for in extreme cases such as…”

    My point is, if there is ever a time when it is ok or right to do something that is believed to be wrong, then the person believing it to be wrong should be willing to admit that it is a matter of Christian liberty, not a moral absolute.

  3. I would have to disagree with this idea. It is possible for there to be extreme exceptions simply through the interaction of one principle with others.

    An example of this would be taking a life. It can certainly be argued that the right of self defense or protecting innocent life could supercede the command to not kill. This is not making an exception to the commandment, it is recognizing the priority of commandments when two or more come into conflict and balancing that priority. (Another example could be civil disobedience.)

    Saying something is wrong except in extreme cases may not be seeking a loophole so much as acknowledging the complex relationship of Biblical principles.

  4. I am not speaking of cases in which the Bible makes certain exclusions. The point you make concerning the taking of life is a good example of this.

    Perhaps I could have stated this more clearly in my post, but I am referring to instances in which the validity of the exclusions is determined by human subjectivity. I have seen arguments presented as moral absolutes except in “certain cases” that the one making the argument deemed to be extenuating circumstances. Their judgment in the matter was not based upon any biblical principle, but rather upon their own feelings or logic pertaining to the matter.

    Does that make more sense?

  5. Preacher, oddly enough, I would consider your conclusion here to be the moral imperative in this.

    Our Christian liberty is in our liberator, Christ Jesus. We are no longer bound to sin but to The Savior. This does not imply that we are free to sin but rather that we are set free from the law of sin and death and are instead made subject to the perfect law of liberty that is found only in Christ. Being then made morally subject to Christ we cannot rightfully be subjectively judged by men. Those who would judge a servant of The Lord will answer to Him for usurping His authority.

    Most of those who would object to this understanding fear it would allow for a Christian to live a carnal life in the Church but Church discipline, when scripturally administered, would make this impossible. That is a whole other can of worms. πŸ˜‰

    I sympathize with Cameron and would even agree with his reasoning. At times we can clearly see the conflict and the proper resolution but the problem is not what we can comprehend, but what we can’t. To consider that our judgment is just based on our reasoning is to presume the full knowledge of God.

    I would also agree with KB but I’ll leave any further explanation on that to him. πŸ˜‰

  6. I looked up “loophole” and here is what I got:

    “a means or opportunity of evading a rule”

    ..what I was trying to speak to was the idea that loopholes are rationalizations that people use to explain why they are not doing what they know they should do at a gut/heart level.

    I think that liberty is a spiritual concept and not not a carnal fleshly one.. so when we try to apply head logic/axiom to it we miss the point of what liberty really is.. we can only be free when we are trusting and following Jesus with our heart.. not our head.

    Does that make sense or am I missing the point?

  7. Gordon,
    Could one case be that of telling a lie. Is it always wrong to tell a lie?
    What about lying to save the life of a person from a fierce army? Such as the woman Rahab. Such as the TenBoom family protecting lives of the Jews and others.
    I am just wondering if this is anything near what you are dealing with.
    T. A.

  8. KC, that is a salient comment, as always. I think our understanding of this concept of Christian liberty is the same. Perhaps we read the same book? πŸ˜‰

    KB, I think I understand you now and would agree with you. My point in this post is in a little different direction, though. I will explain in a moment.

    TA, now you are getting at something close to what I had in mind. Let me give an example from my own personal experiences that may further illustrate what I mean.

    I have heard some Christians say that it is wrong for believers to listen to any music that is not Christian music (and that field in itself is very narrowly defined by them, but that’s another topic). They have arrived at this conclusion by linking together various principles that they believe the Bible teaches. This is all well and good until they make this statement, “The only exceptions to this is some classical and patriotic music.” This exception is based entirely upon their preferences and not upon Scripture. They will then proceed to browbeat believers on this subject convincing them that any other type of music is sinful, simply because it is “not Christian”, rather than evaluating the other forms of music on their own merit.

    Another example might be this. For years, I heard a number of Christians say that is was sinful for Christians to attend a theater to watch a movie. There is no clear biblical mandate on this matter, but they felt that certain biblical principles applied. I can respect that. But some of these same Christians would rent the same movies from a video store or subscribe to cable channels that showed them. Some of these Christians also suddenly changed their minds when movies such as “The Passion of the Christ”, or “Facing the Giants” showed in theaters. (I’m not condemning these movies, by the way. In my opinion both are worth seeing.)

    I have also known some Christians who felt that it was a sin to own a television. If they feel that way, I can certainly respect that. It would seem after a while, though, that these Christians would suddenly think it was ok to own a television just to “watch the news”. Again, there is no clear scriptural mandate on the issue.

    My point is this, if the “loopholes” or exceptions to the rule are based upon our preferences or opinions rather than being clearly stated in the Bible, I would suggest that the issue is one of conscience and Christian liberty rather than moral absolutism. Whichever side a person takes on the given issue, they should believe and practice with a conscience that is clear before God for His glory, but I do not believe they have a biblical foundation to place another believer in bondage to their point of view.

  9. Gordon,
    I think you are right. It is kind of like choosing between a Ford or a Chevy. I have for most of my life, with the exception of one car driven Fords. I have joked and kidded around, and been joked and kidded with that Ford’s are the best or heard they are the worst. Now I know this doesn’t have anything to do with Christianity, or moral issues; however, I do think the idea of preference fits.
    A preference is something you can change; but a conviction concerning right and wrong is something you would live and die for.
    I am not about to give my life for the difference between a Ford or Chevy.
    There are certain moral convictions that are based on Biblical teachings that I would give my life defending; as I am sure there with you and the others.
    I hope I didn’t muddy the water any worse.

  10. Bro. T.A., you didn’t muddy the water at all. I always appreciate hearing what you have to say. BTW, I am a Ford man, too.

  11. Thanks for elaborting Gordon.. helped me understand where you are coming from.. I noticed that beer was not mentioned in your list.. I once went to a church where drinking a beer was deemed a sin.

    I think that maybe Romans 14 covers this sort of opinion and preference:

    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

  12. KB, that is a good example. My personal feeling is that the Bible lays enough foundation that for me I could not in good conscience drink a beer. I feel strongly enough about it that I could not drink one in faith, therefore it would become a sin for me.

    However, I have seen some people who I believe are very sincere in their desire toward God also make a case for drinking beer from the Bible. While I would disagree with their point of view, I cannot judge what is in their heart.

    BTW, the list of examples that I cited was certainly not intended to be exhaustive. There are a myriad of issues that we could be discussing in this light.

    I really appreciate what you have added to this conversation.

  13. Thanks for the clarification, Gordon. The distinction between what I was referring to and what you are talking about is this: principle vs. preference.

    My comment was in relation to issues on which there are Biblical principles and/or precepts for support, finding the balance in the priority of those, and applying that to life. (The latter two are areas of Christian liberty IMO, btw.)

    As I understand it, you are talking about stands that are taken, not on Biblical principle, but on personal preference. Thus when exceptions are made, it would seem to prove that it is Christian liberty. On that I would agree wholeheartedly.

  14. Cameron, exactly.

    KB, that is an interesting article.

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