How far is too far?
This question plagued my youth group while I was in High School. Everyone wanted to know where exactly the line had to be drawn in their physical relationships with their boyfriends/girlfriends. Students, in general, were not concerned about honoring God in their relationships, they only wanted to know at what point they were sinning. And being a single thirty year old, I am realizing that people are still asking that same twisted question.
Unfortunately, Scripture tells us that by asking that question we are already sinning. Why? Because anything apart from faith is sin (Rom 14.23). What that means is that if you are not holding hands with your significant other in faith to the glory of God, then it is sinful. If you are not eating in faith to the glory of God it is sinful (1 Cor 10.31). If you are not speaking or working your job in faith to the glory of God it is sinful (Col 3.17).
Have you ever stopped to consider the evolution of line drawing? Two generations ago, going to the movie theater was unthinkable for Christians. Playing cards was an offense worthy of being kicked out of the Church. One generation ago, the Church unanimously considered bars forbidden. In fact, many Christian members of the baby-boomer generation and generation before would not eat at restaurants if they served alcohol. It was illegal to make, sell and drink alcohol in the United States from 1922 to 1930.
Where is the line today? The church is more diversified in some of their line drawing, but many Generation X believers frequent bars. Their ethical line is drawn at strip clubs. Can you imagine that your grandparents could have felt about movie theaters the way you feel about a strip club? That playing a game of solitaire would be as reprehensible as paying for a lap dance?
I recently went to a question and answer time at a church where anyone from the community could come in and ask the pastor any question they had about Christianity. The premise was to engage the community where they are, let them feel out the church, and let Christians and non-Christians alike find Biblical answers to whatever it is that would hold them back from belief. It was held in the church building. And they served alcohol. 80 years ago that would have been illegal. Two generations back, you could have been kicked out of the church. And today we use it as a meeting ground. Will the next generation of Christians find strip clubs morally acceptable?
My intention here is not to discuss the moral acceptability of kissing, movies, restaurants, bars or strip clubs. My intention is to observe the fact that the Church, when operating in legal freedom, has wrestled with defining the line. But the fact that we would set up for ourselves lines by which we can flirt with sin exemplifies a lack of Spiritual transformation in our lives. If we set up ethical or moral boundaries and function without consideration of glorifying God within those boundaries, we are white-washed tombs. We are paving our path to Hell in gold. We are defaming Christ. Why? Because we have not been transformed and we would call ourselves “Christians” – people who are like Christ – when we are living for ourselves and our own consciences when we have not sacrificed or suffered or fought any battles with sin.
Therefore, we must be confident of our daily activities that they are not only morally acceptable to God, but that they are done in faith and to His glory. If the Bible says to honor the marriage bed (Heb 13.4), can you in faith obey God making out with your significant other? If the Bible says that liars are sinners (1 Tim 1.10), can you in faith fudge on your income taxes or tell white lies to keep peace with coworkers? If the Bible says that cowards and unbelievers’ place is in Hell (Rev 21.8), can you live by faith in fear and doubt? If the Bible says do not store up treasures on Earth (Matt 6.19), can you buy a vacation home, expensive clothes or a fancy car in faith?
Ask the Spirit. He will guide you. He will reveal sin in your life. God is not a God of confusion (1 Cor 14.33). If you ask Him to reveal sin in your life, He will not ignore your request. Just be ready to hear the answer! And we must search out His will in Scripture, because His will is our sanctification (1 Thess 4.3). The Bible says do not get drunk (Eph 5.18). We do not need to ask Him about that. The Bible says do not fornicate, have affairs, have idols, practice homosexuality, steal, covet, gossip and swindle others (1 Cor 6.9-10). No need to wrestle over His will on those things. He will not change His mind. But He will give you the strength to overcome, and a way out of the temptation (1 Cor 10.13). We all have our sins of disposition. Perhaps you are prone to lying. Perhaps alcoholism runs in your family. Perhaps you are physical hypersensitive and are what psychologists would call a “sex addict”. We all have sins of habit and entrapment that are natural to us. But God transforms us from the inside out, giving us clean hands and a pure heart (Ps 24.4).
Let us not walk the line. Let us run with the freedom granted to us and glorify God with our whole beings, humbly submitting to His standards and walking in faith.