Verses like Romans 14:13 remind us that we should not pass judgement on another. These verses are often ripped out of context so that we all leave each other alone when it comes to issues of personal choice or discernment, but the verses always have a context. The context in the case of Romans 14 is those within the church who get really anxious or angry about non-essentials. We can often condemn our brothers or sisters in the church because of how they dress, format their morning service, or use psychology in how they counsel. In the church, as in all circumstances, our heart should be to love. This means that we do not condemn. We do not so easily write people off because of their opinions.
A hot button today is the issue of same-sex marriage. There are those who write off people who disagree with them on this issue. Thinking people do indeed need to reach a judgement on the issue but need not judge those who disagree with them. In other words, each person needs to study scripture and see what they believe God teaches on the issue, however people should not say that being wrong on this issue condemns a person to hell. The issue of heaven and hell is primarily an issue of relationship with God. Heaven is God’s dwelling place and those who are headed there are doing so because they want to be with him forever. Because they live with God they become like God. Their views on issues change and they become holy like he is Holy. However, opinions do change when people are on that journey with God. We need to have patience with those who disagree, not contempt. We need to have compassion first and not condemnation.
One side of the issue of same-sex marriage is right and the other is wrong. The sides of the issue are mutually exclusive. However, Christians are destroying each other over this – we are destroying the work of God, over this issue. We can, and must, disagree. It is essential to being authentic. We must state how our opinions differ. However, we can not use this issue as a litmus test to decide who is lost and who is saved. Salvation centers on the person of Jesus and not the issue of same-sex marriage. Life with Jesus will give us thoughts on the issue, but this issue is not the essence of life. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through him. We are not saved or condemned due to our stance on any issue except our response to the person of Jesus.
What if you know that someone has reached a stance that is in error? Have a loving discussion, but when you realise that the conversation is going in circles just let it go. I have found in most of my discussions with those who disagree with me on same-sex marriage or transgender issues they don’t really listen to my opinion. They are only interested in stating and then restating their own. Maybe we can change this trend.
13 Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgement on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.