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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « "Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus" Critique (Messianic Judaism) | "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan (Review) »
    Thursday
    May102012

    Why Not Participate in Other Religious Ceremonies?

    Lately I’ve been wrestling with the morality of being a Christian, but attending (when invited) ceremonies of other religions. Should I be a “bridge-builder” and go? Should I be concerned with not offending through my absence? Should I go to show support for the friend/family members whom I love, even though I disagree with the ceremony?

     

    It is my nature to be a “people-pleaser”. I don’t like upsetting or offending or hurting others. It is really hard for me to accept someone’s anger toward me. I love people and I enjoy being around them.

     

    Being a history buff, I also enjoy learning about other cultures and religions. I am awed by the aesthetics in various architecture, dance, and music. I am fascinated by the beliefs of others, and my resounding question is “why”. I am intensely curious, so the idea of seeing other temples or places of worship, and observing the ceremonies, really piques my interest.

     

    For now, I don’t think it is necessarily wrong to observe ceremonies or other religions’ rituals as a strictly casual observer. But in all honesty, I’ve actually already been there, done that as far as participating (even as merely an official witness) in ceremonies God told me to not attend (a wedding), that I’ve later regretted.

     

    Since I anticipate being asked to attend something in the relatively near future, I decided to do a Scripture search to see what it said.

     

    Favoritism: If you wouldn’t condone it or support a stranger, it is showing favoritism to overlook it for family or friends.

    “For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11) see also Deut. 10:17

    “and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.” (Exodus 23:3 and similarly in Duet 1:17)

    “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” (Leviticus 19:15)

    “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."” (John 7:24)

    “I will show partiality to no one, nor will I flatter any man;” (Job 32:21)

    “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:9)

    “Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34)


    People-pleasing:

    “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)

    “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

    “For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:43)

    “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess. 2:4)

    “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22)

    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28)

    “Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. “ (Prov. 29:26

    “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

     

    Looking the other way: If you think what another is doing is sinful or questionable, you have the obligation as a Christian to gently but firmly, tell them your concerns.

     

    “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)

    Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

    But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” (1 Tim 5:20)

    "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)

    “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:7)

    “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest,” (Isaiah 62:6)

    “In every case that comes before you from your fellow countrymen who live in the cities--whether bloodshed or other concerns of the law, commands, decrees or ordinances--you are to warn them not to sin against the LORD; otherwise his wrath will come on you and your brothers. Do this, and you will not sin.” (2 Chron. 19:10)

     

    Causing another to stumble: Supporting someone in a Biblically questionable endeavor is both looking the other way, and causing (or potentially causing) another to stumble. 

     

    “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Cor. 8:13)

    “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (Romans 14:21)

    We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” (2 Cor. 6:3)

    “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Cor. 11:29)

    I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus) and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” (1 Tim 5:21)


    Traditions of men:

    “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."” (Mark 7:8)

    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    "Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?" (Matthew 15:3)

     

    God does not live in buildings: While architecture is fascinating and beautiful, it is very important we do not succumb to traditions that stem from the idea that God dwells in any particular place. He has made it abundantly clear in Scripture that He dwells in the hearts of people.

     

    “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?’” (Acts 7:48-50 and Isaiah 66:1)
     

    "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” (Acts 17:24)

    “"But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)

    “Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in. I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought Israel up out of Egypt to this day. I have moved from one tent site to another, from one dwelling place to another. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”” (1 Chron. 17:4-6)

    “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12)

    “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)”

    “…you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).”


    The Temple Destroyed: Following on the heels of “God does not live in buildings” is the notion that we should not put too much stock in either the traditions of men (see above), or the works of men’s hands which will inevitably pass away with time.

     

    After Jesus left the temple, his disciples came over and said, “Look at all these buildings!” Jesus replied, “Do you see these buildings? They will certainly be torn down! Not one stone will be left in place.” (Matt. 24:1-2)

     

    Below are some quotes I found from Christians, specifically as to whether or not they would/should attend a homosexual wedding. This is not the situation I anticipate, but the principles are the same.

     

    “A believer in Jesus of Nazareth must not do anything which strengthens the chains of bondage, broadens the gap between God and sinner, or deepens the darkness surrounding a lost person.”

    “Jesus frees the slave to sin. A believer in Jesus Christ should not celebrate the trappings of the slave holder.”

    “It's something we should all wrestle with before being put in that position - more and more of us will find ourselves in that position and our presence (or absence) will speak louder than just about any sermon we preach.”

    “as Ephesians 6 says having done all to stand, STAND!”

    “I can still show love to people who are gays, lesbians, polygamous, etc. Showing love to people of all different life-styles must be distinguished from a public act (like attending a wedding) in which I give my recognition to the validity to the nature of that ceremony.”

    “When someone like Joel Osteen attends a same sex marriage, he legitimates it. Simple. Lets be different and show the confused world the difference. Lets stop trying to be nice. Lets support what the scripture says.”

    “If you want to keep communication or relationship lines open with one or both of the homosexual partners, pray about it and make use of any opportunities or avenues that God presents to you.”

    “But don't dishonor Christ and the Scriptures by giving low-key back-door approval to gay marriage mess. Don't do it.”

    “Simply tell the homosexual partners that you cannot be a part of any such gig--not even as a supportive attendee-and tell them why you cannot. Be honest with them.”

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