Some discussions are simply nauseating to me. Why? Because when people take them too far (as they sometimes do), they become downright silly. Note the following:
Right now, there is a controversy surrounding a [heart-warming and adorable] superbowl Cheerios commercial (watch this one too while you’re at it). Why? Because it featured an interracial family (a white mom and a black dad). Some ‘Christians’ were outraged over this. Believe it or not, there are some within Christendom that genuinely believe that it is a sin for a white person to marry a black person.
There’s a name for people who adamantly hold this view: racists.
Like clockwork, those against interracial marriage bring up the same old argument from Deuteronomy 7:3-4. In so doing, they not only demonstrate their racism – they also show off their Biblical ignorance. God’s reason for forbidding the Israelites (and the Israelites only) from engaging in interracial marriage was religious in nature. The nations surrounding the Israelites were pagans and idolaters, and God knew the Israelites would be led astray if they intermarried with them. (Interestingly, the people in surrounding nations had the same skin color as the Israelites.)
Christians are given the same principle in 2 Corinthians 6:14. We are not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Just as the Israelites were commanded not to marry worshippers of false gods, Christians should avoid marrying non-Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39).
The irony is that those who condemn interracial marriage often have no problem with Christians marrying non-Christians. They have their priorities completely backwards. The fact that some within Christendom are opposed to interracial marriage (but not inter-religious marriage) is totally pathetic and sad.
All human beings – regardless of skin color – are made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). There are other issues we should get hung up on.
Republican (& Democrat) Talking Points
I’m convinced that many Christians – because I’ve met far too many like this – are primarily Americans, and secondarily Christians. At one extreme, they are more concerned about being patriotic than they are about being faithful. At the other extreme, they are more concerned about social justice and wealth redistribution than they are about being disciples.
Now, it isn’t wrong to be concerned about the direction of our country and to have opinions about various issues. But when we get more heated about politics than we do spiritual matters, we need to reexamine ourselves.
I don’t go to church because I want to hear people talking about the evils of gun control, taxes, socialized medicine, and our president. I meet with the saints because I want to be encouraged “to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24) and to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Instead of judging those outside the Lord’s Church (1 Cor. 5:12), we need to be judging one another with righteous judgment (John 7:24). And if we are going to be preaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), we need to teach the importance of respecting our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-17) and “rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:13-17).
Yes, I love America. Yes, I’m deeply conservative in my political beliefs (I can make Ronald Reagan look like a liberal in some areas). But God is not an American, and we need to stop turning His Church into a political organization. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
Calling People “Legalists”
The problem with people who throw around the word “legalism” is that they hardly ever define the word. It is a LOADED word. I’m convinced that very few people actually know what it means; they just know they’re against it. Whatever it is.
What exactly does “legalism” mean, anyway? Dictionary.com defines legalism as “strict adherence to the law” – something Jesus wants His disciples to be concerned about (cf. John 14:15). If that alone is the meaning of legalism, then I’M A LEGALIST! Go ahead, mock me. I love Jesus too much to not be concerned with keeping His commandments.
Now, we all know legalism is bad when “strict adherence to the law” becomes an end of itself, not the means to the end. That’s why Dictionary.com further allows for this possibility when it further defines “legalism” as obeying “This is precisely where the Jewish leaders had erred (cf. John 5:39-40). They weren’t keeping God’s commandments because they loved Him and wanted to know Him. They were keeping God’s commandments for the sake of keeping His commandments, thus believing they could earn salvation simply by their own merit (If this describes you, read Eph. 2:8-10). But in my experience, this explanation is rarely implied when preachers & teachers condescendingly condemn “legalism.” By haphazardly and clumsily criticizing legalism, they [perhaps unknowingly] convince some Christians that it is wrong to keep every detail of God’s law!
Just think – there are actually Christians who have fallen for the lie that it is a sin to be concerned about not sinning!
Some think that they are breaking God’s Law by trying to keep all of God’s Law!
It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Sadly, Satan has outwitted many of us. Again.
Just think twice before calling someone a “legalist.” You don’t know his/her heart (in fact, people should be commended for their desire to humbly obey all of God’s commandments from the heart). Jesus didn’t use this word when rebuking others (“Legalism” isn’t even in the Bible), and – unlike us – He had the power to read men’s hearts (John 2:13-15). Try to define it before you use it, or – better yet – use a different word or phrase (something transparent and easily understandable).
I know Christians who are the ‘vegan’ type, the ‘Whole Foods’ type, and the ‘all-natural’ type – and that’s cool! But I know some who can also be pretentious about their food choices and be condescending to others when they don’t share their choices. It is one thing to have opinions about eating healthy, but it is entirely another thing to bind healthy eating habits on others.
Yes, Christians are to protect their bodies (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20). But concerning food, God the Son declared “all foods clean” (Mark 7:19), and God the Father removed the Jewish dietary restrictions (Acts 10:15). When it comes to eating healthy, we need to understand that choosing which food to eat and which food to avoid is a judgment call. Christians who ridicule other Christians for eating the occasional fast-food meal are no different than the Pharisees and Jewish leaders (cf. Matt. 15:1-9; 23:24; Mark 2:24-28).
It is awfully silly to rebuke someone for eating a Twinkie while remaining silent about real sins in that person’s life (cf. Matt. 23:23).
What would you add to this list? What are some things some Christians (however well-meaning they may be) argue about or bind on other Christians that simply aren’t Biblical in nature?
Fellow saints, we need to make sure that our views and opinions are saturated in Scripture. Otherwise, we will run the risk of alienating people unnecessarily and doing the Lord’s Church a great disservice.
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