ACCEPTANCE V. BIGOTRY
(Definition of Bigotry: “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.”)
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” — Ephesians 4:29
The two passages of Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8 deal with the “weak” brother or sister (without “knowledge”) whose conscience is provoked at the eating of meat sacrificed to idols. In ancient Roman (and Corinthian) times such sacrifices were made to local deities and fresh-meat was left after the sacrifices. To the earlier followers of the “Risen-Christ” this was an economic boon — inexpensive/discarded fresh meat — as being secure in thought and mind that Christ’s sacrifice obviated (did away with) any prior animal sacrifice, whether by Jew or Gentile. How easy it is (or was) to “preach-down” (to demoralize) the person of weaker-faith in “justifying” the act of eating Idol-meat. However, the ultimate point of the passages is that of to “not-offend” others who do not share one’s micro-belief on specific issues of conscience, in this case eating meat sacrificed to idols, or by extension, eating meat at all (or the observance of certain days, etc.).
Over the centuries this perhaps has been extended to other aspects of Faith — the having of or abstaining from “fermented wine,” whether or not the “image” of the crucified Christ should be shown on the cross, whether the Earth was the “center” of the Universe (perhaps by analogy, different parts of Christ’s Body as the Church on Earth as Eyes not hearing and Ears not seeing, each Separatist-Group does indeed function within their own domain, yet remain respectfully “accepting” of the other parts of Christ’s Body the Church — see I Cor 12:14–27 and whole chapter) but perhaps most prominently in “Modern Times,” sexuality itself — where after an entire dissertation in Romans 1 and culminating in Romans 1:32 [Apostle Paul speaking of homosexuals] “Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.“ — WHEREIN Paul “CONCLUDES” with Rom. 2:1 THEREFORE you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another …”
The same logic of Rom 14 and I Cor 8 can also be applied to the gap between Rom 1 and Rom 2 — to determine which is the “greater evil” — Knowledge-Judgment-Offending or Acceptance-Not-Offending; Bigotry or Acceptance? Apparently the modern-trend has been that of “Acceptance” as being the lesser evil.
The entire book of Philemon itself is an entire example of very subtle sarcasm the Apostle Paul utilizes in his writing — sending a runaway slave back to its owner (ACCEPTANCE!) all the while jabbing about his own “imprisonment” and culminating in Philemon 1:18 “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” (Ha! Ha! Paul writing this from prison …) and further in v. 19 “…I will repay it — to say nothing of your owing me even your own self.” — reminiscent of Jesus parable in the Gospels of the Greater-Debtor needling the Lesser-Debtor and later being found-out by the Servants — see Matt 18.
Perhaps we all practice our Faith as being “right in our own eyes,” through the knowledge of God’s Grace in our lives (God Accepts me for who I am and forgives me), yet to strive to “not-offend” our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord by putting our “knowledge” as a stumbling-block before others who don’t receive God’s Grace(s) the way we individually do — Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Yes, perhaps we can legalistically justify our individual Position-of-Faith, Rom 14:23 “…for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” But again, the greater challenge is that of Acceptance over Bigotry, by accepting “Acceptance” as being the lesser evil, with Bigotry (and “Puffed-Up” knowledge and self-righteousness) being the greater-evil to avoid.
Only after taking the log of Bigotry out of our own eye, only then, and through the vehicle of Acceptance (Philemon, Rom 14, I Cor 8, etc.) — “…then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:5, Luke 6:42.
In conclusion, Romans 1 remains prevalent and rampant in Modern Times by those recent converts that enter the Church, that initially latch onto God’s Grace and is indeed permeating the Churches as the “Tares amongst the Wheat,” Matt 13:24–30, but so too, Bigotry as the greater evil remains in the wheat-patch that attempts to rid itself of perceived tares only to become the tare itself.
 As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions.
 One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables.
 Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him 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 Master is able to make him stand.
 One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind.
 He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
 None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.
 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
 So each of us shall give account of himself to God.
 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean.
 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.
 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.
 For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;
 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.
 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats;
 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble.
 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves.
 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
1 Corinthians 8 — http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/r/rsv/rsv-idx?type=DIV2&byte=5251871
 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
 If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
 But if one loves God, one is known by him.
 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” —
 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
 Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
 For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
 And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
 Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
 Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.
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