Stumblingblocks

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In my personal experience, violations of the following Pauline command mostly tend to fall into one category.

Let us … decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Rom 14:13)

That category is entertainment. In my own life nothing other people have done has emboldened me to sin like movie and TV recommendations from fellow Christians. I’m sure there must be more subtle influences on me that I don’t currently see, ways in which others have caused me to stumble into say, bad eschatology or even bad attitudes without my knowledge. But movie and TV recommendations have made me stumble in some obvious and definite ways. They have caused me to ignore the warning light in my conscience and watch things I wish I had never seen. They’ve caused me to start movies which curiosity then impels me to finish (you know how that is). I’m not talking pornography here, not really—though some movies I’ve seen featured scenes that previous eras would rightly have called pornographic. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart knew pornography when he saw it, but I wonder if we do.

This era is an odd one, in which it is both very easy to hide what you’re watching from others (and I don’t think that hiding is necessarily hypocritical) and very easy to put a stumbling block in the way of 832 brothers and sisters on your friend list. There are other relevant scriptural considerations: maybe legalists out there do occasionally need to have their noses tweaked the way Jesus sometimes did? (There are Christians in the wilds of the Internet, for example, who inveigh against the wickedness of the Chronicles of Narnia—maybe that great quote from Susan and Lucy about Bacchus* will help them see their error, even if they see it as an inducement to sin.) But if you choose to do that tweaking, consider how to tweak harmoniously with what Paul says very directly:

Let us … decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Rom 14:13)

*“I wouldn’t have felt safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.” “I should think not,” said Lucy.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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