In New Testament days, it was common for idol temples to take meat that had been offered in worship and sell it in the marketplace. A temple BBQ--offering delicious prime cuts.
The apostle Paul talks specifically about eating this idol-worship food. Basically, he says that "food is food" and it doesn't really matter if it's been used in worship to an idol or anything else--God has given us all food to eat and enjoy. But Paul then challenges believers to be careful because their freedom of eating "any" food might become an issue for another person. Paul says..."Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Corinthians 8:9 NRSV).
In suburbia San Diego, whether or not to eat food used in idol worship isn't much of a daily dilemma that I face. But there are other issues--other areas--that I feel "freedom" in which can cause others to watch and stumble. Personally, I can go into a sports bar with complete freedom to watch NCAA basketball. The "bar environment" would not even faze me because I've never been tempted by alcohol. But to others, the bar scene or alcohol temptation is a huge issue...one of constant battle.
The right question to ask isn't "could I go into a bar?" but rather "should I go into a bar?". Just because I could do this or go there without temptation doesn't mean that I should. The Bible tells me that my focus needs to be on helping others grow closer to God, not on enjoying my freedom.
Paul takes the challenge up a notch..."If food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall." (1 Corinthians 8:13 NRSV)
Paul's words press hard and force me to ask...Even though I have "freedom", am I willing to go "without" to help another grow?