Christians guilt other Christians in the name of encouragement over non-essential, liberty-related issues. There are standards and commands that, when disobeyed, cause the Christian to be considered “carnal” or “worldly”. I consider that a valid and Biblical concept.
But there is a Puritanistic attitude that terms other as worldly when they are often making use of their Christian liberty. For those who sneer at that concept as an excuse to sin, it is not. Those who use it as such will be held accountable, but it’s not between them and other people.
Christian liberty is not an excuse to sin, but rather a way for Christians to freely exercise their choices and opinions when they don’t feel the Holy Spirit convicting and pressing on them. With liberty, though, comes the necessity for spiritual consistency. If you are not filled with the Spirit, then it’s challenging to make good decisions pertaining to your liberty.
So why, why, why do others tout their own opinions as truth? Opinions change with age, experience, and knowledge (for some, a little less knowledge and a little more experience). Mine are changing, morphing, and developing all the time, almost visibly. Just because opinions change doesn’t mean they don’t have a place or shouldn’t be held. Life is a long, upward search for wisdom and enlightenment.
When others strut around waving their camp’s flag, when these opinions are actually subjective, it leads to disillusionment from the observers. It’s a one-way ticket to jaded Christianity.
A teacher gave me the best description of the place of opinions in Christianity. He said that we have our convictions, which would be “Jesus died on the Cross for my sins”. We have our persuasions, which are heavier, but controversial doctrines. “I believe that Calvinism is Biblically consistent.” Then, we have our opinions, which is where things get arbitrary and personal. The problem is, they often aren’t kept personal.
With opinions, they become complicated. The opinion held might be something that’s true at one point for someone but not true at another point in time. It sends mixed signals to observers and even participators. I believe that it directly contributes to apostasy.
I’m not sure we should shrink back from addressing obvious sins or hypocrisy. In fact, I think I have only been confronted twice by non-family members on things that would be categorized essential issues. I’ve been given a lot of opinions disguised as “edification”, though. I know I’ve screwed up more than that. The ones who have left the most impact on me were the ones who conversed with me, but didn’t talk at me. Maybe Christianity would have a better overall reputation if we addressed the essentials and left the grey to the other’s discretion.