" 1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' " 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." Romans 14:1-23
What a hugely significant passage this is.
I think the key thought I want to focus on is that of verse 19 "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification".
Here we have a brand new boylove forum opening up and there, like here, we find ourselves facing our differences theologically over the issue of same-sex marriage.
Some may say this issue is a question of morality and as such isn't really what Paul is addressing in this chapter of Romans. Whether that is the case or not, I don't think it makes less of Paul's more overriding concerns here. Mutual edification. Our job is to work out our own salvation and then make an effort to help each other do the same. Part of this process is not judging each other over our differences. This is a difficult juggling act at times. Finding a balance between holding firmly to what we believe and walking together with someone who beleives something different is quite challenging. Especially when the implications of our theology for the other person can be quite distressing. For instance, if I believe that a same-sex marriage is against God's will... then I'm basically saying that I think a brother in such a relationship is outside of God's will... and that has to be upsetting for him. However, I have to hold two other things in balance when I think about and talk about what I believe.
Thing one: I could very well be wrong! In fact even in the areas where my theology is good and mature it will still be fraught with errors. I'll never have it all reasoned out... because theology is not about reason... it's about relationship! And if my theology sacrifices relationship then it's already failed. "Knowledge puffs up but love edifies" (1 Cor 8:1).
Thing two is from vs 4 of this passage: "4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand." That sounds pretty tight to me. We all have to make up our own minds about what we approve and don't approve... we have to do this in faith.... but ultimately we leave the judging up to God when it comes to our brothers. I'll respect your God given responsibility to make your own peace with the Father and you can respect mine and we can discuss our differences with respect and love and a desire for mutual edification.
Father, please help us to walk in love towards one another, particularly in the face of our theological differences. Please help us to walk in loving respect for each other at all times and help us to challenge and discuss each other ever with the goal of building each other up and strengthening each other. Thank you for giving us these forums and may we ever use them for Your glory, in Jesus name I pray.