Idol Meat and Confederate Flags

Let me talk to you about meat sacrificed to idols. It was a problem in Corinth. Temples in antiquity sacrificed animals. The meat not used by the temple priests was sold in the local meat market. Jews (and thus Christians) were able to have their own kosher market. Later the Romans shut down the kosher market. Now Christians had a problem. Technically any meat they bought had been sacrificed first to an idol. For some Christians, it was only technically sacrificed; for others, it was really sacrificed.

Lots of good Christian folk in Corinth knew that “idols were nothing” (1 Cor. 8:4). But there were other Christians in Corinth who had a bad history with idols. For them, that meat was “tainted.” It troubled them (1 Cor. 8:7). They couldn’t eat it and they had a hard time with the Christians who did. The “strong” Christians (to use Paul’s terms) knew there wasn’t really anything wrong with the meat. They ate it with a clear conscience.

What should the strong Christians do? We should just tell those other Christians to “get over it.” It is our right to eat the meat if we want. What gives these other Christians the right to impinge on our rights and tell us to quit eating the meat?

Wait. That’s not what Paul said. He stated, “if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again” (1 Cor. 8:13).

As a Southerner myself—a proud Texan—I understand those who say, “The Confederate flag is just a sign of Southern pride. It has nothing to do with racism.” I get it. For some Christians, this is completely true. When I hear this, though, I am hearing someone defending their rights. Paul says in the same letter that love doesn’t demand its rights (1 Cor. 13:5). In such matters, Christians lay aside their rights for their Christian brothers. “It’s just a flag”; yes, but there are Christian brothers who are troubled by it. If eating meat offends my brother, I won’t do it again.

Learn a lesson from Paul, my friends. Put away the flags.

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