"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Lee Francis teaches history at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Not so long ago he was discussing freedom of speech with his class. During the discussion they touched upon a court case where the judge had determined that desecration of the American flag was protected under the First Amendment. Instructor Francis then asked anyone in his class to give him a lighter or a scissors.
Francis' request was ignored by every student in his room.
Instead of taking his cue from the class, Francis proceeded to place an American flag on the ground and stomped on it. Two of the students walked out rather than be a part of what they had just seen. After that a figurative firestorm hit the school and the class.
The reaction to Francis' action has been mixed:
* Some of the parents in this military community want Francis fired.
* The American Civil Liberties Union spokesman says, "The very freedoms and principles that the American flag represents include the freedom to stomp on the flag."
* The school's superintendent says, "Clearly, there are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating the flag."
Now I have neither the experience nor the knowledge to know how all of this is going to play out in the legal system. I give thanks I am not going to be the judge who will make that decision.
On the other hand, the Lord has plainly told His people about the limitations of their rights. His opinion was passed on to the apostle Paul who shared it with the church in Corinth, a community of believers which had some serious problems on what was permissible and what was forbidden. The Lord's opinion is summed up in these words: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful."
Now, obviously, there are some things a Christian should never do. Those things the Lord has addressed in the Ten Commandments. But there are many things which those commandments do not speak to.
In these things the Lord has given us freedom. We can do them or not do them as we wish. That covers the first part of the sentence: "All things are lawful to me, but" -- and this is a big exception -- "not all things are helpful."
That means, even though we are free to do, think, or say something, we may -- out of love for our Savior or out of respect for another individual -- wish to put our "rights" on the shelf and do what is best for them and their relationship with the Lord.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for the freedom the Savior has won for me with His life, death and resurrection. May I honor Him and benefit my neighbor by the way I use or choose not to use that freedom. In the Savior's Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries