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Things Christians Need To Stop Being Silly About6 min read

February 14, 2014 5 min read

Things Christians Need To Stop Being Silly About6 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Some discussions are simply nauseating to me. Why? Because when people take them too far (as they sometimes do), they become downright silly. Note the following:

Interracial Marriage

Right now, there is a controversy surrounding a [heart-warming and adorable] superbowl Cheerios commercial (watch this one too while you’re at it). Why? Because it featured an interracial family (a white mom and a black dad). Some ‘Christians’ were outraged over this. Believe it or not, there are some within Christendom that genuinely believe that it is a sin for a white person to marry a black person.

There’s a name for people who adamantly hold this view: racists.

Like clockwork, those against interracial marriage bring up the same old argument from Deuteronomy 7:3-4. In so doing, they not only demonstrate their racism – they also show off their Biblical ignorance. God’s reason for forbidding the Israelites (and the Israelites only) from engaging in interracial marriage was religious in nature. The nations surrounding the Israelites were pagans and idolaters, and God knew the Israelites would be led astray if they intermarried with them. (Interestingly, the people in surrounding nations had the same skin color as the Israelites.)

Christians are given the same principle in 2 Corinthians 6:14. We are not to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Just as the Israelites were commanded not to marry worshippers of false gods, Christians should avoid marrying non-Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 7:39).

The irony is that those who condemn interracial marriage often have no problem with Christians marrying non-Christians. They have their priorities completely backwards. The fact that some within Christendom are opposed to interracial marriage (but not inter-religious marriage) is totally pathetic and sad.

All human beings – regardless of skin color – are made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). There are other issues we should get hung up on.

Republican (& Democrat) Talking Points

I’m convinced that many Christians – because I’ve met far too many like this – are primarily Americans, and secondarily Christians. At one extreme, they are more concerned about being patriotic than they are about being faithful. At the other extreme, they are more concerned about social justice and wealth redistribution than they are about being disciples.

Now, it isn’t wrong to be concerned about the direction of our country and to have opinions about various issues. But when we get more heated about politics than we do spiritual matters, we need to reexamine ourselves.

I don’t go to church because I want to hear people talking about the evils of gun control, taxes, socialized medicine, and our president. I meet with the saints because I want to be encouraged “to love and good works” (Heb. 10:24) and to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Instead of judging those outside the Lord’s Church (1 Cor. 5:12), we need to be judging one another with righteous judgment (John 7:24). And if we are going to be preaching the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), we need to teach the importance of respecting our governing authorities (Romans 13:1-17) and “rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:13-17).

Yes, I love America. Yes, I’m deeply conservative in my political beliefs (I can make Ronald Reagan look like a liberal in some areas). But God is not an American, and we need to stop turning His Church into a political organization. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Calling People “Legalists”

The problem with people who throw around the word “legalism” is that they hardly ever define the word. It is a LOADED word. I’m convinced that very few people actually know what it means; they just know they’re against it. Whatever it is.

What exactly does “legalism” mean, anyway? defines legalism as “strict adherence to the law” – something Jesus wants His disciples to be concerned about (cf. John 14:15). If that alone is the meaning of legalism, then I’M A LEGALIST! Go ahead, mock me. I love Jesus too much to not be concerned with keeping His commandments.

Now, we all know legalism is bad when “strict adherence to the law” becomes an end of itself, not the means to the end. That’s why further allows for this possibility when it further defines “legalism” as obeying “especially to the letter rather than the spirit.” This is precisely where the Jewish leaders had erred (cf. John 5:39-40). They weren’t keeping God’s commandments because they loved Him and wanted to know Him. They were keeping God’s commandments for the sake of keeping His commandments, thus believing they could earn salvation simply by their own merit (If this describes you, read Eph. 2:8-10). But in my experience, this explanation is rarely implied when preachers & teachers condescendingly condemn “legalism.” By haphazardly and clumsily criticizing legalism, they [perhaps unknowingly] convince some Christians that it is wrong to keep every detail of God’s law!

Just think – there are actually Christians who have fallen for the lie that it is a sin to be concerned about not sinning!

Some think that they are breaking God’s Law by trying to keep all of God’s Law!

It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. Sadly, Satan has outwitted many of us. Again.

Just think twice before calling someone a “legalist.” You don’t know his/her heart (in fact, people should be commended for their desire to humbly obey all of God’s commandments from the heart). Jesus didn’t use this word when rebuking others (“Legalism” isn’t even in the Bible), and – unlike us – He had the power to read men’s hearts (John 2:13-15). Try to define it before you use it, or – better yet – use a different word or phrase (something transparent and easily understandable).

Health Foods

I know Christians who are the ‘vegan’ type, the ‘Whole Foods’ type, and the ‘all-natural’ type – and that’s cool! But I know some who can also be pretentious about their food choices and be condescending to others when they don’t share their choices. It is one thing to have opinions about eating healthy, but it is entirely another thing to bind healthy eating habits on others.

Yes, Christians are to protect their bodies (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20). But concerning food, God the Son declared “all foods clean” (Mark 7:19), and God the Father removed the Jewish dietary restrictions (Acts 10:15). When it comes to eating healthy, we need to understand that choosing which food to eat and which food to avoid is a judgment call. Christians who ridicule other Christians for eating the occasional fast-food meal are no different than the Pharisees and Jewish leaders (cf. Matt. 15:1-9; 23:24; Mark 2:24-28).

It is awfully silly to rebuke someone for eating a Twinkie while remaining silent about real sins in that person’s life (cf. Matt. 23:23).


What would you add to this list? What are some things some Christians (however well-meaning they may be) argue about or bind on other Christians that simply aren’t Biblical in nature?

Fellow saints, we need to make sure that our views and opinions are saturated in Scripture. Otherwise, we will run the risk of alienating people unnecessarily and doing the Lord’s Church a great disservice.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.

Ben Giselbach is the pulpit minister at the Edgewood church of Christ in Columbus, GA. He and his wife Hannah have two children, Ezra & Colleyanna. Ben is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and has returned to pursue his MDiv. He has written three books in his You Are A Theologian Series: Thinking Right about the Bible, Thinking Right about God, and Thinking Right about Salvation.
  1. Emily Nelson

    I definitely love this post and totally agree!!

  2. Donny Britt

    Hit the nail on the head! This article is the plain truth. Wish all the brotherhood would follow this!

  3. Allison

    First off, I'd rather be a Christian than anything. I've had to separate myself from the politics bc it irates me to the point of maybe not acting as a Christian should. God first. The most racism I've seen and been exposed to in the church are older people who use their age as an excuse. I've been very protective of my daughter and it hurts worse when I know there are certain people I can pick out in the Church who think they are excused to use the n word bc if their age. Rather ignorant and disturbing to me. (And out of the same mouth call my daughter beautiful) ugh! Hard to think you can be in heaven with an attitude of superiority! Tks for this article! Good job!

  4. Kathy Pollard

    Excellent! How we educate our children might be another one. While homeschooling is a great option, it's not the only option for successfully bringing our children up in the Lord. We need to be careful about leaving the impression that if other parents don't homeschool, they must not care about the souls of their children as much as we do.

    • Ben

      Great example! I agree!

    • Denise Surles

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, Kathy!

    • kim smith

      Kathy totally agree with you!

    • Kelly O'Rourke

      Thank you, Kathy! As a public school teacher, I have sometimes felt the same type of judgement. So many conversations included: "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with going to public school, but...(statements about the horrors of public school.)" Even Think Magazine from Focus Press, which I really enjoy, published an issue a few years back that may have intensified this problem. If ALL Christians pull their children out of public school, and ALL Christians stop teaching at public schools, do we really think the situation would improve? My students all knew about my faith. I was not shy, and I was never censored. I'm glad everyone can make the choice that is right for their family, and we should leave them to it, with grace and love.

  5. Tim Gunnells

    Very well said. Thank you!

  6. James Hayes

    Another one might be using church attendance as the benchmark of faithfulness. I'm a preacher, and I have preached very plainly about the importance of attendance. However, Jesus gave us several benchmarks of faithfulness, and He didn't mention worship attendance as being one of them. I think some have used attendance as the true test of faith because it's easy to do, and it shows themselves to be righteous. It's much more difficult to feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, and visit the widows and orphans in their distress, so we don't hold those actions up as signs of faith...even though Jesus DID. Anyway, good post.

    • Ben

      Yes, you're absolutely right! And we also need to make sure that we don't go the opposite extreme (as I know you're not doing) by saying that attendance patterns aren't a benchmark of faithfulness. Faithfulness in attendance is in fact a requirement (Heb. 10:24-25), and I've never known a faithful child of God who didn't attend services frequently and regularly. Yet, attendance - just like feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned saints, and meeting the needs of orphans and widows - will not get us to heaven. Only God's grace will get us to heaven, through our faithful obedience to His commands. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Dwayne Butler

    I would like to throw this one in. We need to quit treating homosexuality and abortion like they are the only two sins. Please don't get me wrong, I think both are absolutely sinful, but no more sinful than anything else. Nor do I think it's silly to get upset about sin. I just don't why these two stand out more than others. I know some who get red in the face over those two sins and completely ignore an adulterous marriage, a lie, fornication, etc... I don't understand it.

    • James Hayes

      I would add pornography to homosexuality and abortion. I've been asked this question before, and I always respond the same way: Those three sins are GROSS. We are more apt to have an emotional reaction to things we think are disgusting. We typically do not respond to lying, adultery, etc. the same way because the reasons for committing those sins (e.g. "we don't love each other anymore, "I had to lie because my job was on the line") sound reasonable to us and we can see ourselves in those same situations one day. BUT...we would never imagine having homosexual sex or killing an unborn baby or watching two people have sex. So we strongly oppose those who do those things. We don't feel like hypocrites when we rail against homosexuality, abortion, and porngraphy. I totally agree with your assessment.

    • Amanda

      Completely agree! And the more time we spend on condemning these, the more ppl we push away from the church. We should be a safe haven for them--not condoning their choices but not judging them either. Just showing them love in every way we can!

  8. Dwayne Butler

    Also, congratulations to you and yours! Thanks for the article. It is much needed, and these problems plague the brotherhood.

  9. Tina M.

    People who are against interracial marriage are quick to quote the Law of Moses, but forget that Moses himself took a wife from Ethiopia. Meriamwas against it, too. However, God struck Meriam with leprosy, not Moses or his wife. Apparently God had no problem with them marrying. I forget where this exact passage is, but when I find it I'll post it.

  10. Rachel Lane

    The arguments that make me want to scream are the ones that start with, "There's no scriptural authority for..." mostly: youth ministers/youth groups, organizations like Lads 2 Leaders, or churches or organizations that have been incorporated for tax or whatever reasons. Maybe these fall under the legalistic topic you covered, but I'm tired of hearing people say these ideas are wrong. I really wish we as Christians could stop nitpicking nonessential ideas and grow together by focusing on Matt. 28:18-20 instead.

  11. Kathy

    Birth control is a big one. There are several types of birth control out on the market that DO cause abortions in early stages of pregnancy (morning after pill, mirana, etc.) but there are also several other birth control options that do not harm infant development but stop a woman's cycle all together (depo provera), or condoms prevent pregancy altogether. Christians who are not doctors should not give medical advice to Christian women, especially when it is information that is purely speculative. Every marriage is different and many women have certain conditions.This brings me to a new point, children. Not every married couple can conceive, members need to be conscientious of this fact and not treat couples without children like they are not complete or missing something. Children are a blessing from the Lord but not all people can conceive, and not all people want to conceive. Leave your brethren alone and leave family planning to the couple.

  12. Kevin Shimp

    Good article - thanks! Prejudice. It's a powerful motivator. Another display of religious prejudice could be cited in the account of Jonah. A "religious" man of God with a mean patriotic streak. He simply couldn't understand why God would save penitent people from destruction. Thus, placing himself in the way of God's mercy. May we ever be people of the Book who look for ways to free people from sin through the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.

  13. Brenda Johnson

    Wonderful article Ben! I have long been bothered by the premise that church attendance alone is all that matters. Many who feel this way do not study or evangelize or work for the Lord. They just warm a pew. Roy and I have recently seen a trend toward an unspoken but firmly held belief that if you obeyed the Lord in baptism you are set and it doesnt matter if you are a working faithful Christian. I am afraid we have some once saved always saved people in the church too!

  14. TJ

    Hi! I came across this article because someone had posted it on Facebook. :) Thank you for sharing! I totally agree with you on many points! I just wanted to add though, on the topics of legalism and health food, that the opposite is also true. Just as a health food "nut" should not look down or criticize someone who isn't, those who aren't should not label, stereotype, or judge those who have chosen to make healthier choices. I have heard that happen many times. Also, just as many Christians throw around the term "legalist" in a very judgemental way, I think it's also dangerous to throw around the word "liberal". We are often very quick to judge one another instead of making an effort to understand one another's point of view. Thank you for a thought provoking article. :)

  15. Emily Day

    I was so glad to see a Facebook friend share this, this is everything I've been thinking the past few months. I would like to add Mothering to the list. There's tons of talk about early education, public vs. home schooling, breastfeeding vs. not, cloth vs. conventional diapers, and the list just could go on for days. Ultimately these decisions are up to each set of parents, and it's no one else's business to be judging how good we think a mother is for doing/not doing something specific. I love what one of the earlier comments said about how we need to stop judging people for certain worldly things and instead use righteous judgement and help them with the actual sin in their life, and of course remember our own struggles. None of us our perfect, but it seems a lot of us are adopting a "holier-than-thou" attitude about matters that are not even spiritual, and therefore are not relevant.

  16. Paul Mays

    Everything is spot on. Well done! I would like to add that there is a major difference between food options then and "food" options now. Many of the things available for us to consume today are killing us faster than using tobacco. Yes we campaign against tobacco and rightly so. I choose to "work" on that topic by researching, trying to be as good a steward of my families health as possible, educating others on what I learn, and ultimately trying to be a good example in the care of this loaned body. All the while not condemning others for what they may not understand. Thank you for this strong and needed article.

  17. Reena street

    Very enlightening article. Thanks for posting. In reference to homosexuality. I agree with what was said about the fact that it's a hot topic right now and we can't forget all the others sins. But the way I feel is right now homosexuality is being shoved down our throats. We are being forced to see it, hear about it and to accept it everyday. It's everywhere. And while all other sins are equally as sinful it's the rage at this time. That's why I think everyone is talking so much about it right now. We Christians have a long hard battle to fight against it. I hope we are all taking a stand.

  18. canwereason

    Amen Ben,People were drawn to Jesus because of his love and compassion for people as well as for the truth he spoke. Many Christians have the adverse effect because we have made our personal issues and agenda’s into doctrine. You have the pro-gun church and the anti-gun as well. All these prideful distractions take our focus away from sharing the love of Jesus, caring for the needy and saving the souls of men.Lord help us!

  19. new to this

    I don't believe we should use the words liberal or conservative when it comes to Christian practices. I was in an argument one time with a fellow church camp counselor over possibly teaching the difference between the two. It's not scriptural. We're causing division among ourselves by trying to label things in categories.

  20. David Sherfield

    David SherfieldAs I began reading this article, I was surprised I had such strong connection with the writer and the viewpoints being expressed. Each idea was well presented and supported with scripture. I then realized a brother in Christ had written it. Thanks brother for the insightful thoughts and the courage to write it.

  21. Robbie McCutchen

    Very good article. When I was a child and teenager in the 1933 to 1950 times preachers preached on abstainence from sexual activity until marriage. They explained that fornication was sex with anyone outside of marriage and that adultry was sex a married person has with anyone other than their own spouse. They did this in a way that children could understand. I do not remember the word sex even being used. But when I was old enough to know what sex was I very clearly understood what they were teaching. Why do preachers not teach those things now. Seems it is needed now more than ever.

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