Drinking alcohol, watching R-rated movies and cussing are just some of the countless "gray" areas in the Christian life.
Hoping to help guide Christians, new and seasoned alike, on issues that are not spelled out in black and white in the Bible, one Charlotte, N.C., pastor offered them a framework from which they can make their own decisions.
"I'm not going to give you an answer key," said Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church during his sermon this past weekend. "I'm not going to try to make black and white issues out of what's gray in the Word of God. That would be malpractice on my part. I'm not going to back down either from making a black and white issue out of a clearly right and wrong scriptural issue."
Opposing legalism, or "beating people up" with the Bible, the young megachurch pastor cautioned Christians against making an absolute truth out of their own personal preference.
"That's where we get in trouble," he said.
Rather than make a Christian boycott list, he encouraged believers to ask themselves three questions when dealing with a gray issue: "Is it best? Does it build (others up)? Does it bind?"
"Just because I can doesn't mean I should," the Elevation pastor emphasized.
Addressing Christians who may be compromising some of their values or beliefs or involved in activities that are sabotaging their spiritual growth, Furtick said, "You might get to heaven when you die and you might not burn in hell for it, but there's probably a smarter way to do it."
"It might not be a wrong thing; it might just be a stupid thing," he added.
Rather than approach gray matters from the "how far can I compromise and still go to heaven" stance, Furtick challenged them to take a different approach.
"Stop trying to get as close to the edge as you can and start trying to stay as close to the source (God) as possible," he urged.
Reminding Christians that they've been bought with a price, Furtick stressed, "Our Christian liberty is not a license to be idiots or to flirt with sin."
Addressing some of the practical and hot button issues, the Charlotte pastor briefly touched on alcohol and R-rated movies.
For Furtick, his personal legalism is not drinking – not because he thinks it's bad but because his family has had generations of alcoholics.
He also noted that he's bothered by preachers who preach against drinking when they're, for example, overweight.
"The Bible has more to say about gluttony than it does about drinking," he said.
When it comes to R-rated movies, Furtick pointed out that there are network sitcoms that teach disrespectful attitude toward parents and are "way more sinful" than R-rated movies.
On a personal level, he explained that at times he chooses not to watch such movies not because he is trying to please other Christians (because you'll never please all of them, he noted) but because it might not leave the best impression especially on an unbeliever.
"I can't make a career out of catering to other Christians, but I can make it a priority to protect my testimony," he stressed.
Furtick's sermon was part of Elevation's "Cow Tipping" series which addressed questions that are often avoided in churches. Elevation Church has touted itself as a church that is not afraid to talk about any issue.