My daughter, Katelynn, who is eleven, wants to start wearing make-up. I have a rule: No make-up at all until she is twelve. My wife does not agree with me. She thinks I am being legalistic. I can’t help it. That is just the way I think. I can justify it in ten different ways with my hands tied behind my back. The problem is that none of my justification is really black or white. It is one of those things that the Scripture does not speak on. My wife’s argument makes sense too. However, I have scruples about the issue. These scruples bend my understanding and create their own passions. One more year and the scruples will be gone as Katelynn will be twelve.
Make-up is not the issue. I don’t want to go there. We all have scruples. That is not really a technical theological term, though it is in the dictionary. This is how it is defined: “An uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action.” However, when it comes to our faith, scruples are hard to deal with. You have these militating terms: grace and liberty.
When grace and liberty clash with “scruples,” more often than not, unfortunately, the scruples win. Why? Because we are so quick to sacrifice our liberty for the sake of the “weaker brethren.” Yes, this “weaker brethren” card is often pulled and legalists love it. In fact, it is used most often by those who are legalist wearing the disguise of those who are free. It is not that this card is illegitimate—it is not as if there are not true weaker brethren—but it is abused and the result is slavery.
I remember Chuck Swindoll talking about this saying: “Be careful, there are some people out there who are ‘professional weaker brethren.’”
“Kristie, I have scruples with this make-up thing. Maybe I cannot find a verse or a solid principle upon which to rest my theological head, but you need to be sensitive and understanding to my hang-ups for the sake of my spirituality. One more year and my scruples will be gone.”
I highlighted some key words that legalists will use to manipulate the situation. “Sensitive,” “understanding,” “hang-ups,” “sake,” and most importantly, “my.”
From the other side, liberty is so often sacrificed.
“I don’t go to the movies because I don’t want to cause anyone to stumble.”
Often implied translation: “You should give up your liberty too if you want to be spiritual like me.”
“I don’t ever drink alcohol because a weaker brethren might see me and fall into sin.”
Often implied translation: “I have scruples with this issue and you should too.”
“If someone saw me befriending this person, they may think I am condoning their actions. Therefore, I sacrifice my liberty for the sake of their frailty.”
Often implied translation: “I can’t be friends with people who are that sinful.”
Okay, to the passage: Romans 14. Continue Reading →