June 10, 2012 by Stacy McDonald

Abusing Christian Liberty…

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“I’m going to do what I want…right in your face.  I could care less if it bothers you or draws you into sin. It’s not my problem if you’re offended. I think God is fine with what I’m doing; so, just get over it.”

Does this sound like the attitude a Christian should have? Is this consistent with how the Bible describes love?

 If your brother is grieved because of your ____, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your ___ the one for whom Christ died…Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another… It is good [not to] do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak…Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (Romans 14:15;19-22)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13–14)

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)

I believe that the Bible allows for the drinking of wine. Drunkenness is condemned; wine, in moderation, is celebrated. However, if you think it’s sinful, I’m surely not going to flaunt it in your face. In fact, if it’s offensive to you, I’ll put it away when you come to my house. I’ll do that because I love you. I’ll do that because I want to show you honor and respect. I’ll do that because, as much of a struggle as it is sometimes, I want to consider your feelings over my own pleasures or desires.

Most of all, I want to be like Jesus. And I certainly don’t want to do anything that may cause you to stumble in any way. But, I’m not always good at this. And sometimes I’m not paying attention. So, if my “Christian Liberty” somehow causes you pain or tears you down spiritually, please let me know. Because I want you to know that I love you.

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15 Responses to “Abusing Christian Liberty…”

  1. Lori says:

    I have a serious question. Would belly dancing in public (mixed company) be considered “Christian liberty” or sin?

  2. Darleen Creath says:

    Thank you for this timely article with the humble last paragraph.
    Well done!

  3. Jessie says:

    I agree. So many people abuse this, Christian or not. They don’t seem to consider how their actions affect other people. Great post!

  4. Maddie says:

    @Lori- your question is a little vague as there are many types of belly dancing. There is the semi- nude, suggestive type most commonly seen on tv , which I believe should be private, however there are belly dancing styles that are as modest as ballet. Remember that this style of dancing comes from Muslim countries where no decent woman would expose her body publicly to a man and no decent man would expect it.
    In Egypt is is illegal for a woman to expose her navel. Egyptian belly dancers usually wear dresses that cover then from neck to wrist to ankle and the moves are graceful and no more suggestive than any movements made by a woman. Belly dancing usually occurs in female only company. Men also do belly dance in male company. Belly dance is not about eroticism but femininity and beauty.
    In some eastern countries mixed dancing in public of any sort, even at a wedding by a married couple is illegal.Any sort of dancing can be questionable. Modern nightclub dancing is often very suggestive with very close physical contact. I personally don’t dance in front of men at all but I have seen women bellydancing in a way that was quite modest.
    You just need to ask, why am I doing this and what is the most likely outcome? And when it comes to Christian liberty, do you want to walk as close a line as possible or be as pure as possible? And while understanding our own capacity for sinfulness we need to remember that everyone answers to her own conscience, as Paul said about eating good offered to idols. What is sin to me may not be sin to everyone. I am responsible for my own actions and must leave others to be responsible for theirs.
    Sorry for the huge response but I hear people making assumptions about bellydancing too often.

  5. A beautiful truth. How I strive for this as well… getting rid of selfishness is such a battle for me!

  6. Stacy McDonald says:

    There are certainly different forms of Arabic dance, but since what most of us Westerners picture when belly dancing is mentioned includes dancing suggestively with the hips in a bikini top and other provocative dress, I would have to say that I can’t see how dancing this way in public around men other than one’s husband could in any way fall under “Christian Liberty.” Alluring other men with our bodies, even if for entertainment, violates the 7th Commandment.

    Note Question number 139 in the Westminster Larger Catechism:

    What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

    The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, (Prov. 5:7) are, adultery, fornication, (Heb. 13:4, Gal. 5:19) rape, incest, (2 Sam. 13:14, 1 Cor. 5:1) sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; (Rom. 1:24,26–27, Lev. 20:15–16) all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; (Matt. 5:28, Matt. 15:19, Col. 3:5) all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; (Eph. 5:3–4, Prov. 7:5,21–22) wanton looks, (Isa. 3:16, 2 Pet. 2:14) impudent or light behaviour, immodest apparel; (Prov. 7:10,13) prohibiting of lawful, (1 Tim. 4:3) and dispensing with unlawful marriages; (Lev. 18:1–21, Mark 6:18, Mal. 2:11–12) allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; (1 Kings 15:12, 2 Kings 23:7, Deut. 23:17–18, Lev. 19:29, Jer. 5:7, Prov. 7:24–27) entangling vows of single life, (Matt. 19:10–11) undue delay of marriage, (1 Cor. 7:7–9, Gen. 38:26) having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; (Mal. 2:14–15, Matt. 19:5) unjust divorce, (Mal. 2:16, Matt. 5:32) or desertion; (1 Cor. 7:12–13) idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, (Ezek. 16:49, Prov. 23:30–33) unchaste company; (Gen. 39:19, Prov. 5:8) lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; (Eph. 5:4, Ezek. 23:14–16, Isa. 23:15–17, Isa. 3:16, Mark 6:22, Rom. 13:13, 1 Pet. 4:3) and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others. (2 Kings 9:30, Jer. 4:30, Ezek. 23:40)

    And this is from Wikipedia:

    “In the West, the costume most associated with belly dance is the bedlah (Arabic for “suit”). It owes its creation to the Victorian painters of “Orientalism” and the harem fantasy productions of vaudeville, burlesque, and Hollywood during the turn of the 20th century, rather than to authentic West Asian (“Middle Eastern”) dress.

    The bedlah style includes a fitted top or bra (usually with a fringe of beads or coins), a fitted hip belt (again with a fringe of beads or coins), and a skirt or harem pants. The bra and belt may be richly decorated with beads, sequins, braid and embroidery. The belt may be a separate piece, or sewn into a skirt.

    Badia Masabni, a Cairo cabaret owner, is credited with bringing the costume to Egypt, because it was the image that Western tourists wanted. The hip belt is a broad piece of fabric worn low on the hips. It may have straight edge, or may be curved or angled. The bra usually matches the belt and does not resemble lingerie. The classic harem pants are full and gathered at the ankle, but there are many variations. Sometimes pants and a sheer skirt are worn together. Skirts may be flowing creations made of multiple layers of one color sheer fabric chiffon.”

  7. Jennifer says:

    I love that quote from the Catechism in “Raising Maidens”. Thanks for peppering it with classics!

  8. Stacy,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Christian liberty vs. sin. This is a very real issue. I have seen that in your face attitude in the church and it is so very grevious.

    When we have the attitude that “I love Jesus, but I just don’t love you” we deny the truth of God’s Word.

    1 Corinthians 13:5 says: Love “does not behave rudely, does not seek it’s own.”

    1 John 4:20 says: If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

    Blessings to you!

  9. Kristin says:

    Wow, this stuff is so good. I have been a Christian for so many years but not up until I was faced with life threatening adversity did my walk with the Lord become one of Truth.. I have been learning to look inward and up not outward and down.. God is soooooo good to me.. There is a scripture in Matthew where Jesus talks about a woman and He refers to those who are forgiven much, Love much. It is so powerful if you can get the revelation on it. I am so happy God has finally released me in my spirit to write this blog.. http://intentionallyinspired.blogspot.com/.. I was living out the scripture Hope defered makes the heart sick for way too many years. When your Hope is in Christ, His love will shine brilliantly through you.. ONLY when your hope is in Him and not in people.. God Bless.

  10. Montimarie Horton says:

    Dear Stacy,

    Does useless arguements and spreading discontentment fall under this category of Christian Liberty…”I’m technically correct and I see that you may have made an error…so I’m going to point it out and point fingers until you defend yourself?”

    To give you a little background, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law love to argue and their attitudes spread discontent. I have to always ask myself if it’s worth a response on my part or if I should just shut my mouth but I come away hurt and what is worse is that they try to redirect our family plans and schedule! I’ve asked my sister-in-law if she’d rather be right or happy and she said that she’d rather be “right” because when she knows that she is right then she is happy!

    It can be about a birthday party or our plans to take a quick trip or hinting that we’re missing a family party (but it was planned at the last minute….after we booked a B&B)? I don’t like these hints and I don’t know if I need to respond or just enjoy my own life! I’ve heard hints that since I microwaved my soup…..maybe I don’t know how to cook…..etc.

    I’m just hoping that you can shed a little light onto the best response or if I should just ignore them, and take a walk. My mother-in-law is 80 years old and I’m well educated with a 19 month old daughter and I get to stay at home and make a home for my husband who is a busy defense attorney. It just seems like they ignore polite and kind Christian attitudes and will start an argeument if they please.


  11. Heather says:

    I was wondering what your stance is on Bikini’s and the best way to teach modesty to little girls in an immodest world, where even Christians are wearing them. Thanks for the post! It’s great! Love reading your words, thanks for sharing your gift

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Heather,

    Since a bikini is the equivalent of a bra and panties, I guess I would view them the same if worn in public. Here’s a good source for bathing suits that are actually clothing http://www.wholesomewear.com/

    The best way to teach little girls modesty is to model it ourselves, remembering that it’s first a heart issue. Don’t focus only on the outward expression of modesty (clothing etc.); start with the focus of giving God all the glory and developing a meek and chaste heart.

  13. Laura says:

    On the subject of bathing suits… what some of the women do in our church when we are having some sort of get together that involves swimming, is we will either thrift or buy new an exercise t-shirt (with sleeves) made of swim suit material — loose fitting, not tight, and we will wear a more feminine or solid color patterned pair of men’s swim trunks (or modest length women’s board shorts) that matches the top, with some sort of padded bathing suit/bikini top underneath or a padded exercise bra to make sure what’s hiding underneath is truly hiding!). It’s totally modest & comfortable, and I think a lot cuter option than the Wholesome Wear suits.

  14. Laura says:

    Here’s a link to a type of shirt from Target I was talking about in the comment above.. Short Sleeve Exercise Tee: http://www.target.com/p/c9-by-champion-womens-short-sleeve-tech-tee-assorted-colors/-/A-13970642

  15. Jane says:

    Another idea for more modest swimwear is a sundress made of a lightweight material to be worn over a one piece swimsuit. Add a belt if the dress is very full. We found a pretty floral print sundress for my daughter at a thrift shop (for less than $5.00) that falls just above the knee and when worn over a one piece suit, it looks much like the skirted swimmer from wholesome wear.

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