Stumbling For Control

After work today, the plan was to head to Starbucks and get a nice, 3-pump, non-fat, no-whip white mocha and work on the manuscript, but when I arrived at Starbucks, I encountered the world’s most stressful parking situation. I wasted 10 minutes trying to park before heading away from there to Avenue Coffee where I bought this:

Who could ever ask for more than a hot vanilla latte?

Isn’t it lovely? I probably shoulda started at Avenue, right?

Next time.

This cup of fluffy warmth calmed my soul in delightful, slow, easy sips, and I’m ready to face the world. Makes me want to give up Starbucks altogether except that, well… there’s a Starbucks on every corner and only one Avenue Coffee that I’m aware of.

Anyways, I sat down to work on the manuscript, but instead ended up buying my first ever whole album off of iTunes. I’m pretty jazzed, because I got the Proclaimers, which I think might be an altogether fabulous album to listen to during the Ragnar, although a few of the songs are a bit slow. Perhaps I’ll just repeat 500 Miles a bajillion times since it’s one of my favoritest love songs of all time.

On to serious business, now, though. I’ve been mulling something over for a few days now and I think I’m now ready to talk about it (and when I say talk, I really mean write a blog post about it and converse with the few of you who are motivated enough to write comments)…

For the past few weeks, a friend has been complaining about a man whose shirts are a stumbling block for her. I hadn’t taken notice of the shirts or the way his tattoo peaks out from beneath his sleeve accentuating his biceps, so maybe what I’m about to say is unfair, but I’m going to go out on a limb here…

Maybe it isn’t so much that this man is too attractive to be wearing normal t-shirts (heaven forbid we rebuke women for wearing t-shirts), but more that we all have a penchant for control.

Let me take a step back and start by saying that I get where this girl is coming from. Romans 14:13 tells us not to cause our brothers to stumble, which is one of my favorite verses. It urges us to protect our brothers and to love them. It exhorts us to selflessness. In Christian culture, it’s relatively common to hear people talking about the importance of dressing modestly so as not to cause brothers and sisters to stumble, so she’s using the verse the same way that others use it.

My question: When did Romans 14:13 become the gavel we smack down as judgment on others?

This verse is about taking care of the person next to me. When did we start reading it as a verse about how the person next to me really should be protecting and loving me? There are verses that explain how I ought to deal with my stumbles. Matthew 5:30 for example, says, “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell,” but Romans 14:13 isn’t about that.  This one is about sticking my neck out for the other guy…

So if Christians aren’t using this verse to love others, then what are they using it for?

Answer: Power!

It might seem like I’ve gone crazy, but I think there’s significant power to be had in telling another Christian that he’s a stumbling block; there’s no legit way to refute such a statement.


Girl: I don’t know if I should tell you this, but your shirt really causes me to stumble because it shows a little too much of your nice biceps.

Guy’s Response Options:

1.  You’re wrong.It really doesn’t cause you to stumble.

2. Too bad.

3. I didn’t realize. I’ll stop wearing it.

First of all, the girl gets to seem humble because she’s admitting to struggling. She’s also indirectly complimented the guy by letting him know that he has smokin’ hot biceps, so he can’t very well insult her by telling her to grow some spiritual maturity and examine her heart.

What does he get? Not much. His only option for not being a jerk is to quit wearing the shirt.

This is a ridiculous bit of power.

She has effectively changed his behavior and probably made him question the heart behind his clothing choices when in reality, it’s a t-shirt!

Do you want him to wear a potato sack? Isn’t that what we’d say if a man claimed that a woman wearing a t-shirt caused him to stumble?

Double standard?


3 thoughts on “Stumbling For Control

  1. It is interesting hearing this coming from the opposite way. Usually the stumbling blocks are about how women’s clothes affect (or effect- i need to review this) men. I never thought of that verse as a chance to tell someone to do something, I always thought of it as something for me to not do to others. It’s not right for someone else to put a stumbling block before me, but I can’t control what other people do.

    I think that people love to control and have power over others. And in many cases it’s women who want the control and power. But women control sneakily. It leads into another topic and other posts of yours about what a women’s role is. And I won’t get into that. I could go on all day… 🙂

    • I like what you wrote about women controlling sneakily… I used to hate all of the stereotypes about controlling and contentious women, but since I’ve started nurturing (and studying) the delicate flower feminity and whatnot, I’m starting to see the truth in calling women controlling. We are – even when we try not to be. I am.

  2. Pingback: At least MacArthur is consistent in his views of Romans 13 | Unsettled Christianity

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