13 So stop judging each other. Instead, this is what you should decide: never put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister. 14 I know and I’m convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is wrong to eat in itself. But if someone thinks something is wrong to eat, it becomes wrong for that person. 15 If your brother or sister is upset by your food, you are no longer walking in love. Don’t let your food destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 And don’t let something you consider to be good be criticized as wrong. 17 God’s kingdom isn’t about eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever serves Christ this way pleases God and gets human approval. Romans 14:13-18, CEB
We had a good discussion in our men’s group last Wednesday night, and it’s got me thinking: What is the difference between privacy and secrecy?
We often talk about privacy as if it’s a good thing and secrecy as if it’s a bad thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in favor of “privacy”, but the common thread between privacy and secrecy is that something is being hidden. We know that one of our good recovery principles is to “live with nothing hidden”. If we take for granted that some level of privacy is a good thing, then the question becomes, what things are appropriate to hide?
I once knew a pastor who told me a story about drinking alcohol. He enjoyed a good glass of wine every now and again. Nothing wrong with that. One night he was having dinner out with his wife and another couple. He had a glass of wine. A family from his church walked into the restaurant and he pushed the glass of wine across the table in front of his buddy, so that it looked like it belonged to the other gentleman at the table. He explained to me that he didn’t want to be a stumbling block to others.
I found that story curious. It seems to me, you have a couple choices you could make that seem reasonable. Either A. you choose not to drink alcohol at all so as not to be a stumbling block, or B. you choose not to do it in public so as not to be a stumbling block. He chose option C. drink in public and hide it when necessary.
I’m not here to judge the rightness or the wrongness of the thing. But that feels a bit more like secrecy than privacy, doesn’t it? It feels like making a conscious effort to conceal goes beyond privacy and moves into secrecy, or living with things hidden. Is that in keeping with righteousness, joy, and peace? I’m not 100% sure. That one example may not be the end of the world, but we have to be careful about forming patterns, don’t we? As we’ve learned, once we’ve tread a path once, it’s way easier to tread that path again.
What’re your thoughts?