There’s a very simple bit of theology that Christians don’t seem to have caught onto yet: According to the Bible, we can do whatever we want to do (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Does the Bible really tell us we’re free to sin? Yes, technically it does. We can do pretty much anything and we’re still covered by grace. In fact, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
However… just because we CAN do whatever we want doesn’t mean we SHOULD do whatever we want. While 1 Corinthians 6:12 does tell us that everything is permitted (or lawful, depending on your translation), it goes on to remind us that not everything is expedient or profitable. Remember, your actions are going to have consequences, both to you and to others.
And not only do we have to consider the possible negative consequences, there’s the fact that the more we give in to harmful desires, the more we can become enslaved to harmful habits. Since the Gospel is largely about freedom (it’s for freedom you’ve been set free, Paul says in his letter to the Galatians), being enslaved by harmful desires is no better than being enslaved by religion.
The bottom line is, don’t let any religious leader tell you you’re not allowed to do something, but it’s also a bad idea to let any habit or desire rule your life. And always consider what the consequences of your actions might be, not only to yourself, but to others as well.
That being said, not everything that we’ve been taught to believe is sinful or harmful by our religious leaders actually is sinful or harmful. The problem is, there’s a lot of confusion, and even outright misinformation, about some of the things that we’ve been taught are wrong to do. This means we should each reevaluate our ideas of what some of the things we might personally need to avoid are, but we also need to keep in mind that some of the things which might be harmful or habit forming for me might not be the same for you, and vice versa.
However, there’s still one more factor to consider. Even if we know that an activity is completely harmless to us, some of our brothers and sisters won’t have the same understanding we do, which can lead them into harmful habits themselves if they don’t understand proper balance. Similarly, many of them don’t have very strong faith in God’s grace, and publicly practicing certain activities they consider to be sinful can cause some of them to stumble at times, so abstinence, at least publicly, might be the advisable course of action in some situations (though less often than you might think. Helping someone remain “weak” in their faith isn’t necessarily doing either of you any favours). This, of course, brings up all sorts of other questions, but those will have to wait for another post.
Disclaimer: Just because something is covered by grace or is not against God’s law doesn’t mean it isn’t against one of man’s laws. This post is not meant to encourage anyone to break any of the laws of the land where they live, as unjust as certain laws may be.