There are many things that the sacrifice of Christ has brought us, and one of the great things of being Christian is the freedom that we have. There will always be disagreement however about what this freedom entails, and how far it extends. It is common for Christians to heatedly debate with each other matters that do not concern salvation such as climate change, evolution, baptism, women in pastoral roles and a plethora of other issues.
But what Romans 14 verses 1-4 is that Christians should not quarrel over what are opinions in what is right and wrong. While some things are explicitly wrong, and should be treated harshly/forcefully (for example see Matthew 18 verse 17), when it is a matter of opinion (and not concerning salvation) brethren in Christ should not argue amongst themselves, as only God is true Judge of what is righteous.
For me, I have been on the receiving end of these heated debates, and have seen many people deterred from staying Christian or becoming Christian due to such a focus on periphery issues.
All that debate on many of these issues does is cause division and does not bring us any closer or others to salvation. What does it matter is you believe in evolution or think if infant baptism valid? What matters is that you accept Christ as your lord! God will be the judge of the rest!
Leading the brethren to do wrong
But not arguing isn't enough. In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul later states that leading our brethren into what they believe as wrong means that we a committing a grievous sin.
Paul also uses the examples of people arguing over what day is holy later in Romans 14 and as well as food. But in response to these attitudes Paul states in 1 Corinthians 8 verse 13: "...if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."
This means that if our actions lead others to commit what they believe to be sin, we ourselves have committed sin. In the same way you may not argue about what is and is not holy, you should not encourage someone to do what they believe isn't holy and righteous!
So next time before I argue about what is permissible or not, I'll be considering if it is my place to judge (sometimes it is), but also consider if my actions are leading others to commit what they believe to be wrong.
My take on this is to encourage each other towards salvation and let God be the Judge of the rest!
Nathanael Yates from Perth, Western Australia, is an award winning young scientist completing a PhD in the neurobiology of schizophrenia
Nathanael Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/nathanael-yates.html