Michelle Lesley: Christian Liberty
Michelle Lesley returns for her fourth episode of Echo Zoe Radio to talk about Christian Liberty. Michelle is an author, a podcaster, and has a women’s discipleship ministry. She and Amy Spreeman do a show called “A Word Fitly Spoken.”
Outline of the Discussion
- Michelle has the issues of Christian Liberty come up every year, beginning with Halloween, going trough Thanksgiving, and dealing with Christmas.
- There are people every year who insist that Christians should have nothing to do with Halloween. There are others who see it as an opportunity to share the Gospel, even “reverse trick-or-treating” whereby the kids hand out tracts to the houses they go to.
- At Thanksgiving, the issue tends to be over the liberty to have a glass of wine with their Thanksgiving Dinner.
- Moving on to Christmas, some dismiss Christmas as entirely pagan, and say Christians should have nothing to do with it.
- Both sides of the issue have responsibilities. The Liberty side needs to be diligent to be sure they are not doing anything sinful. The other side needs to ensure that they are not engaging in Legalism and making a law where there is no law.
- Simply bring these issues up under the discussion of “Christian Liberty” demonstrates Michelle’s view (and Andy’s as well.) By framing them as Christian Liberty, they’re being categorized as issues in which the Scripture does not forbid participation, at least at some level.
- We must always go to Scripture first. Strong personal feelings does not equal Biblical prohibition and sin. On the other hand, excessive permissiveness should not lead to licentiousness.
- The issue of Halloween is very analogous to the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8.
- Liberty often needs to yield for the sake of weaker brethren. If you’re with someone who is opposed to alcohol, we should grab a Coke instead.
- Recognize different levels of maturity among us. One person may be more mature on one issue, but less so on another.
- Some see things like Nativity scenes, flannel graphs, or pictures of Jesus in a children’s Bible as violations of the second commandment. Michelle looked into it and came to the conclusion that they do not, primarily because they do not command worship.
- Churches forbidding women from wearing pants or requiring head coverings are creating law where there is no law. (We believe that the head coverings issue in 1 Corinthians 11 was a cultural issue.)
- As Martin Luther taught, it is never safe to go against conscience.
- Intent is very important. You may not commit a crime or a sin, but your intent was to do so. In such a case, you are sinning. Michelle’s illustration was the “catch a predator” TV stings that aired on NBC’s Dateline from 2004-2007. Men would show up at a house intending to engage in sex acts with a woman he believed to be an underaged girl. Though the crimes never carried through, the clear intent was enough to gain convictions.
- It’s always important to consider all aspects of context with Scripture. There is literary context, but there is also cultural context. In addition, we must look at human history to see if our contemporary view of an issue is universal.
- Legalism usually starts with good intentions. Even the pharisees imposed rules with the intent of protecting people from violating God’s law.
- We need to be careful that we never say, through words or through actions, that God’s law isn’t enough; that we need to add to it.
- Michelle has concerns about churches using music from heretical groups in their worship, such as Hillsong, Elevation, or Bethel Church. This is not an issue of liberty, and treating it as such causes major issues with weaker Christians, many of which have come out of those churches, or churches like them (New Apostolic, or similar.)
- People often adopt pagan practices under the guise of “redeeming” them for Christ. There is nothing Scriptural about this. Michelle gives the example of “Christian” yoga.
- Andy asks “What’s the difference between participating in Halloween and practicing yoga?” To which Michelle explains that there are non-sinful aspects of Halloween (putting on a costume and trick-or-treating,) especially if it incorporates evangelism. She points out that putting on a costume any other random day of the year is not sinful. On the other hand, yoga is a Hindu (pagan practice that has no redeemable characteristics; to practice yoga is to participate in Hinduism (as even Hindus will agree.)
- 1 Corinthians 8-11
- Christian Liberty – Episode from “A Word Fitly Spoken,” Michelle Lesley & Amy Spreeman’s podcast
- The Mailbag: Halloween vs. Yoga? – Michelle Lesley
- Searching for a new church? – Michelle’s resources for finding a good church