I recently received a question that opened my thinking to the whole “stronger vs weaker” teaching in the church. Identifying who is stronger and who is weaker has been a matter of strange ideas and viewpoints. Because many are confused about this, I offer some thoughts. This will take a few posts.
This whole teaching about the weaker and stronger brethren was twisted and warped until it was grotesque in the legalist circles I was in. People would come to me, as the pastor, and tell me that the church had to adopt certain restrictions or they would be offended by something. They took some kind of pride in being the weaker brethren. At one point we were asked to label the ingredients of any hotdish brought to a potluck supper, not for allergies or health concerns, but for Old Testament dietary restrictions. Some were concerned that they might accidently eat pork. We were expected to edit videos shown in Sunday School and sing only certain kinds of music. It was all done under this “don’t offend the weaker brethren” dogma.
The fascinating thing was that when I confronted them with the idea that the people who were able to eat ham or drink alcohol or watch tv would then be the stronger Christians, they balked. They didn’t really like that. No one wanted to be seen as weaker unless it gave them power to make others change! They also didn’t seem to like the idea that the weaker brethren should seek to become stronger. Bottom line: it was just another one of their deceptive techniques.
Have you experienced this? Comments?