I am someone who believes firmly in “the gray area” when it comes to most of the sticky issues that come up in life. Due to our human limitations (and compounded by the twisting of our sin nature), we rarely see an issue clearly enough to slam down a black & white judgment. Even if the question is clear (like “adultery is wrong”), somehow humans can get things so twisted that seeing the end from the beginning in a particular case is no easy task. Motives are nearly impossible to judge; assigning “blame” is usually a vain pursuit. Sometimes the moral course of action is hard to define.
I rest in the confidence that God sees all things clearly.
We humans are not so privileged.
But I think I’ve found a situation in which the “gray area” attitude might not apply.
Why are we so afraid to live within biblical definitions? We read the Word, see the definitions of sin and grace, and then go out to build our own fences.
Condemning people who smoke or drink because you think it’s unwise, even if you don’t think it’s “wrong” per se. There’s a legit argument to make about not trashing your body…and drunkenness is explicitly put off-limits by the Bible… but many people want to draw another fence around that to say that people are safer if they never drink or smoke at all.
A youth worker hides what he watches on TV or listens to (music) from the teens in his youth group. (He listens to the music / watches the TV program with a clear conscience.) It’s even good music. But hiding is easier than confronting other people’s opinions which have placed categories of music or TV “off-limits” to “wise” or “mature” Christians.
“Sin comes from your heart, not from what goes into you through your eyes, ears, or mouth.”
“Dad, can I watch this war movie?”
“Maybe. What’s it rated?”
“R for violence and language.”
“Oh, no — you know we don’t let you watch movies with profanity in them. We don’t want you listening to that kind of stuff.”
In each case, the authority has created a “gray area” where an action is neither sinful nor righteous. But it’s somehow *tainted* and therefore morally unsuitable or unwise.
Everyone knows enough about legalism to recoil from actively pursuing it, so rarely do I hear people try to argue that a particular kind of music or using profanity or watching violence on TV (etc) is actually wrong. But they make it clear that they’re uncomfortable with it… and want their kids to stay away from it.
Drawing our own lines of safety/righteousness seems to reassure us that we can take a controlling grip on this life and our loved ones…. but it’s a false sense of security. Worse, I think it confuses kids / young Christians. If something *isn’t* sin, how is it still “dirty”?
I’m not saying families shouldn’t set standards for behavior, music, or movies for their kids. Not saying that at all.
But I’m confused about the differences between legitimate fences (the teen equivalent of protecting a 1 year old from touching a hot stove until he’s old enough to obey) and creating a false “gray area” of “not sin-but not OK either.”
The latter action is very dangerous. I’d call it deadly.