Question:

Hello!

Where I grew up, idol and ancestral worship is an unceasing affair and seeing now the yearly festival is being observed I have some questions regarding the consumption of food that has been used in idol worship.

  1. While I understand I Corinthians 8 and 10 to mean giving up my liberty for the sake of a weaker brother or sister in the faith, what about our dealings with unsaved persons?
  2. Do we behave in the same manner when they, too, point out that a certain food on the table came from some altar moments before? Somehow I feel that the verses in I Peter 2:12 and 3:15 apply here, but I don't know how exactly.
I'd appreciate any advice you could. Thank you.

Answer:

I Corinthians 8 and 10 deal with cases where there is an indirect connection with idolatry. The pagan temple sells its meat to the butchers in the marketplace and someone then buys the meat from the butcher. In such cases Paul says we should not be concerned. "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake" (I Corinthians 10:25). We don't have to go to extremes to make sure there is absolutely no connection to idolatry.

However, if someone does make a connection, such as at a meal pointing out that the meat comes from a certain idol feast, then Paul said we are not to eat -- not because the meat is tainted but because the person's mind who told us is giving credence to an idol. "But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness"" (I Corinthians 10:28). Notice that this has nothing to do with whether the person we are dealing with is a brother or not.

Therefore, if you know what is being offered to you is coming from an idol, then do not eat. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen" (I John 5:1).

Thank you so much for your response!