Many Chinese Malaysians, when we first become Christians, are told that the Bible says that we should not eat food offered to idols. So we end up massively offending our families by refusing to eat the food at the family dinner, because it had first been offered to the ancestors. Many non-Christian family members have come to the conclusion that Christianity is anti-family as a result.
But let's look at what the passage really says. Read the entire chapter (or even, the entire letter of 1 Corinthians) to make sure I'm not taking these verses out of context.
"Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one." (v4) "But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better."
So what is the point of this passage? Verse 7 says, "However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled."
And verses 10-13 say, "For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble."
So what was the point? That you don't eat the food? No! It's "don't cause others to stumble"!
A: So what must we do? We are to be discerning and think about our actions! We are to evaluate whether our actions will draw people to Christ or push them away from Christ. Will eating draw people to Christ, push them away from Christ, or be neutral? There is no blanket answer, so we must do the hard work of evaluating each situation and not just blindly follow some man-made rules.
We as the Malaysian church need to do a better job of teaching our new believers this principle instead of just giving them a list of do's and don'ts. Let's not needlessly offend our non-Christian friends and relatives.
P: Father, help us to be wise and think about our faith, and learn your principles, instead of just blindly following rules. I know that I myself fall short of this time and time again so I need Your help. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)