Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:11–12
There are questions which cannot be properly decided if only the rights and liberty of the individual men are emphasized. Each one is part of the group with which his lot is cast. He is responsible for the effect of his actions upon those who are linked with him. No one lives or dies, we are told, to himself (Romans 14:7). It is therefore gross selfishness to insist on my own liberty if that liberty contributes to the detriment and enslavement of my fellows. To claim the right to certain indulgences which affect others adversely is to act contrary to the law of love, which should govern all who profess to follow Christ, as well as those who lay any claim to altruistic living. My evil example may be the ruin of weaker ones who become emboldened to do as they see me do. My selfish indulgence may make me a liability rather than an asset to society. I am most inconsistent if I claim to be a follower of Him who “did not please Himself” (Romans 15:3), while I am insisting on my personal liberty in matters that are stumbling blocks to my fellow men, whether Christians or not (1 Corinthians 8:9). While I cannot be governed by the consciences of other people, nevertheless I am called upon to avoid all that would unnecessarily stumble others (1 Corinthians 8:12–13).
A pilgrim in a hurried world and flurried,
Where hearts are aching and where hopes are buried;
Where bowers of ease and pleasures are enticing,
Where heedless lives the good are sacrificing;
A world of turmoil and of strife and danger—
Yes, I’m a pilgrim here, and I’m a stranger.
—Wm. M. Runyon
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 351.