I was recently in Nepal, ministering to Christian pastors in this Hindu land. During a time of question and answer, one of the pastors asked, “One of my church members is a contractor. He has been asked to build a Hindu Temple. Is this OK for a Christian to do?”
As I haven’t encountered these sorts of questions in America, I turned the discussion back to the Christian pastors and asked them what they thought. Commotion erupted as the pastors put forth different opinions. Some said that it’s OK, because a building is a building and the Christian contractor isn’t planning to worship in the temple. He is simply going to build it. Others said that it isn’t OK, because building a temple is supporting idolatry, which is obviously condemned by God. The arguments back and forth were getting pretty heated as they expressed their own opinion.
After much back and forth, I wanted to direct them back to the Scriptures, so I asked them to read 1 Corinthians 8 out loud. When it was finished, the arguments died down. It was encouraging to see how applicable the Scriptures are.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
Here’s how I then applied this passage to the situation: First of all, “there is no such thing as an idol in the world” (verse 4). In other words, an idol is ultimately a useless object, because there is no power in an idol. However, many believers have been involved in idol worship in the past. Thus, your support of it in any way would “cause my brother to stumble” (verse 13). So, while someone is free in Christ to build a Hindu temple. Love would compel a believer not to do so.
That’s what I told the pastors.