Friday, November 2, 2012

Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 1-10

1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.

This, i think, is what a lot of religion should come down to in the end. Rather than a mere list of do's and don't's whose purpose is to provide a yardstick of righteousness, concentrate on the things that are helpful to you. And keep in mind that this list will not be the same for everyone. Some people (like myself) can have a couple of beers with dinner, or a glass of wine after work, and suffer no ill effects. Some people (like myself) can even get really drunk once in a while (so far, i've been drunk three times in five years), and suffer no long-term ill effects. However, i do have a lot of alcoholics in my family, so i appreciate that not everyone can do this. And while i could get really really drunk more frequently than i do (say once a month) without necessarily becoming an alcoholic and ruining my life, is it a good idea for me to do this? No. I don't want to have large chunks of my life blurry around the edges or missing entirely because i was too drunk to know what was happening. I don't want to spend long weekends hung over and miserable. I don't want to make bad decisions that i have to atone for in the morning. I don't want to damage my brain, liver, esophagus (from the stomach acid of vomit), waistline, teeth, and so forth. Having a few drinks now and then can help take the edge off of a stressful day, can help me loosen up and socialize with others, can help me warm up on a cold day, can open me up to new experiences. Plus, alcohol is delicious (seriously, Black Label toasted caramel flavored whiskey in apple cider is THE SHIT). All of these are good things. But getting drunk is not helpful and provides no edification. At least, not for me.

Instead of being built around the things that divide us, maybe religions and denominations should be built around the things that unite us. Like, instead of a church splitting over angry debates about whether or not it's okay to get tattoos, maybe they can peacefully say, "Hey, we all love Jesus, right? Okay! See you in heaven!" and then gently separate into two factions: one who believes that tattoos are not helpful or edifying, and one who believes that they can be sometimes. Or better yet, maybe they can agree to disagree, keeping in mind that all things are lawful. What is helpful for me may not be helpful for you, but that's really between me and God, isn't it?

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