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Saturday, August 23, 2014

What About the Gray Areas?

Image by: Sira Anamwong

Gray area (my definition)—Any issue not covered explicitly or implicitly in the Bible. When there’s not a clear principle or statement about it, when the Ten Commandments don’t cover it, when there’s no clear teaching one way or another about it, it’s a gray area. It’s not black or white; wrong or right; it’s in between.

What do we do about other Christians that see things differently from the way we do? What if we were taught one way, and our friend does it another way? What if one church has one style of worship, and the other church has another style? What if a group of believers is big on one spiritual practice and another isn’t?

There are so many gray areas we could mention. This is by no means a complete list:
  • Fasting
  • Vegetarianism
  • Women wearing hats, head coverings
  • Women having long hair
  • Women braiding their hair
  • Women wearing jewelry
  • Women wearing slacks
  • Women playing sports
  • Homeschooling vs. public schools vs. private Christian schools
  • Singing only the Psalms
  • Singing contemporary praise songs
  • Singing without instrumental accompaniment
  • Having a praise team on the platform, in front of the congregation
  • Singing with guitar (tambourine, drums, or any specific instrument)
  • Slow music
  • Repetitive music
  • Expository preaching (verse by verse)
  • Preaching on themes (love, mercy, Israel in history, etc.)
  • Using a drama presentation in a church service
  • Using the main church auditorium for daily vacation Bible school
  • Patriotism (God and country, Fourth of July, etc.)
  • Small group churches
  • One-congregation church
  • Care group divisions
  • Elders vs. deacons
  • Having the Lord’s Supper every Sunday
  • Having the Lord’s Supper once a month
  • Everyone march forward to partake of the Lord’s Supper
  • Passing a plate and small glasses for the Lord’s Supper
  • A common cup passed for the Lord’s Supper
  • Stewardship month in January
  • Massive pulpit vs. little pulpit or no pulpit
  • Missions conferences
  • Having fellowship meals (and how often)
  • House-to-house outreach
  • Friendship evangelism
  • Using gospel tracts
  • Street evangelism
We could go on and on!

These are gray areas. Some Christians view them one way and some another.

Can we be friends?

Can we worship together, having differing opinions?

Do we need to separate ourselves from people who cut the pie differently than we do?

What does the Bible say?

First, the Bible says that doctrine is very important. We are to separate ourselves from those who do not preach sound doctrine. (Doctrine speaks of the core beliefs of Christianity: the sinfulness of man, Christ’s death on the cross to pay the sin debt, the resurrection of Jesus, eternal life, etc.) Someone who claims to be a Christian but preaches another doctrine besides salvation through Jesus Christ should not be welcomed. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds (2 John 10-11).

As Christians, we also separate ourselves from:
  1. Those who cause division in the church. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Romans 16:17).
  2. Those Christians who continue in sinful practices. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Probably the clearest biblical passage about gray areas is this one. It has to do with eating meat. In that time, the big issue for believers was about meat served at the table that had been previously offered or dedicated to a false Roman god. There were Christians on both sides of the argument. Some had absolutely no problem enjoying their steaks, as they knew there was no such thing as a god other than God. Others had “weak” consciences and couldn’t eat the meat. All they could think of was that false god, and to them, the meat was unclean.

Let’s read: He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. . . . We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Romans 14:6-22; 15:1).

Isn’t this interesting? It all boils down to thinking of others. We’re to do whatever we do with a clear conscience toward God, and we’re to be considerate of others’ feelings.

God help us not to be judgmental about those things that are gray issues and to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who so desperately need Him! Let's major on the majors. 

For God sent not his Son into the world
to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved.
(John 3:17) 


  1. You've touched on a topic that I've been trying to focus on myself lately at Edify Hub. Romans 14 (especially v. 19) is dear to my heart. It's so important to see where we can work with others who may "cut the pie differently than we do" - especially when I look at the enormity of the task of global evangelism in front of us.

    1. Thank you, Steve. I appreciate your comment and will check out your thoughts, as well. God bless you!


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