Personal Liberty and Sincerity Toward Unbelievers In 1 Corinthians 10:27-29

Salvete, omnes!

In 1 Corinthians 10:27-29, the Apostle Paul tells his church that, if someone goes to the house of an unbliever and meat is set before him, he is to eat it without asking questions, but, if the meat is sacrificed to an idol and if someone mentions this fact to them, they should not partake, both of these actions for conscience’s sake.

In the first case, when you ask without questions, I presume that Paul is meaning the conscience of the person not asking any questions. However, in the second case, where the person is not to take the meat if he is informed that it is sacrifcied to idols, whose conscience is he trying to satisfy and why?

I would say that, in this case, Paul is looking to the conscience of the other person who informed the Christian. However, almost in the very next breath, Paul basically says “what should I care about another man’s conscience?” What does Paul mean by all this?

In any case, I would also argue that Paul is, in some sense, advocating insincerity toward unbelievers about what we really do and do not believe. After all, we are told elsewhere that an idol is nothing in the world so that it is fine for us to eat meat sacrificed to idols as long as it does not cause a brother with a weak conscience to stumble. However, in this case, Paul seems to be saying that, even though we believe this, we are still to act like it is a sin forus to eat meat sacrificed to idols just because an unbeliever thinks it is sinful for us to do so. After all, I am taking the motivation for an unbeliever saying that meat is sacrificed to idols as indicating that he is concerned that would would be sinning if we partook in it.

Why couldn’t we just, if an unbeliever told us that meat is sacrificed to idols, simply explain that we don’t believe that an idol s anything in the world and so, then, it is all right for us to eat that meat, instead of not eating it, and, thus, play acting that we shouldn’t?

Or, rather, does the word “unbeliever” have some special meaning here? In other words, could Paul here not be talking about non-Christians but actually about “those Christians who do not believe/have faith that it is all right to eat meat sacrificed to idols”? What do folks think of this? Is this a valid interpretation? Has it ever been suggested before? If this is what is going on, then it would indeed go right along with Paul’s advice elsewhere not to stir things up with people who may not be a strong of conscience as you.

If Paul is advocating being insincere to non-Christian “unbelievers” in this case, in what other cases, both ancient and modern, should we convey an insincere notion of what we do and do not believe, possibly(?) to help our witness in some way? In what other ways is our freedom limited by this?

In antiquity, for example, (since that is my specialty and contemporary to when Paul is writing), would a Christian, by implication from this passage in question, not be permitted, say, to read pagan literature because non-Christians may have the idea that God does not permit us to read them since they have various associations with idolatry? Would this even be the case today with modern non-Christians who might think that we are technically not supposed to do thsi because of the pagan elements? But, getting back to antiquity, let us say a Christian goes into a pagan library and reads a scroll of, say, Vergil’s Aeneid simply because he enjoys and is edified by the literature, but not because he believes in the gods. But, let us say that there are pagans around who may assume that Christians are not permitted to do so. (The Christian wouldn’t know this for sure, of course) Should the Christian not take the risk of being seen to disobey God then and therefore should he not go into the library to read such scrolls? Or, rather, should he only not do this if someone definitely raises objections (as in the case of tthe earlier idolatry example) but is he permitted to do so as long as no-one asks him anything? Indeed, I do wonder how commonly a pagan would assume that a Christian was being disobedient if the former saw the latter reading pagan literature?


Also, what is the harm in appearing to be doing something contrary to your faith, truly? What harm would it truly do to the one observing it? Wouldn’t most people simply think you were being a “bad Christian” but not necessarily attribute it in any way to the Faith, especially if they believe that they know for certain (whether they be wrong or right) what the Faith teaches, whether they are wrong or not?

I’ve always thought that if someone thought that, as a Christian, I should not be reading pagan (ancient/classical) literature, they would not attribute it to the Faith itself but to my own personal failings. I mean, this seems only logical to me. Surely there are people like that out ther,e possibly many, who would believe that Christians shouldn’t read pagan literature both within and outside of the Faith? So, again, in my case, bringing this discussion forward in time, based on the implications of our passage in question, should I continue openly to study classical literature even if there may be some (I believe erroneous) objection to it?

Thanks, that’s well and good and easy enough just to give me links, but, unfortunately, none of these goes into specifically addressing the kinds of questions I posed above. These links were therefore of little to no help to me.

For instance, your third link states that, in the case we’re dealing with, there would be “harm” caused to those around, but it never specifies what particular type of harm that would be. Is it a harm to witness? Is it a harm to the other’s conscience? Is it both? Is it neither?

Also, whether the “unbelievers” are Christian or not is not addressed.

As fr as the harm done, would such harm apply in the case of Christians reading classical literature either in the past or now? This is not addressed either…

And, what about the problem of insincerity I raised? Not addressed.

Still waiting to specific answers to the questions I posed above.

Buy a Catholic bible commentary, concordance, and study bible and read them. I linked you to the Collegeville Commentary for 1and 2 Corinthians for purchase on

Neither are your off base soliloquies that go on and on. Whenever someone explains that you are mistaken you ignore those posts and post another solliloquy.

And again, get a bible study and do the whole thing. Paul goes on about food sacrificed to idols for three entire chapters of 1 Corinithians, not simply 2 sentences.

Unbeliever = someone who is not a Chrisitan. Get a concordance and a bible dictionary too.

This has nothing to do with anything…


Because you made that up out of thin air and it is not what Paul is talking about.

Still waiting for you to buy a bible, a cocordance a Catholic bible commentary.

Here is what i suggest you do in the future.

Mysty: what does Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 10:27-29?

And then LISTEN to what people say.

Instead you do this:

Misty: Paul says this, and I think it means this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and if it means this, and this, and this, and this, then that, and that, and that, and that.

CAF poster: it does not mean this or this or this or this, and that and that and that and that have nothing to do with what Paul is saying.

misty: ignores what everyone says and writes the same thing again.

That is old, and frankly it is annoying.

Can you articulate why why you refuse to get a Catholic bible commentary (Haydock, Collegeville, Navarre, Igantius, or SOMETHING, and actually read it???

You managed to misspell my name each time. Either you really just don’t care much or you did thsi intentionally to slight me.

Once again, it would seem you have it in for me.

Either way, let’s see if there is someone else out there who really does respect me and who wishes to help me understand what is going on.

iPad autocorrect. If fixed the one that said “Musty”. I missed the others.

I don’t “have it in for you”. I don’t even know you. People try to help you and you ignore it, that is disrespectful of their time.

We cannot teach you the bible one out of context verse at a time. The suggestion to get a bible concordance, commentary, and study bible is a HELPFUL suggestion. How do you think those of us further along than you learned what we know? Actual BIBLE STUDY. We took courses, they are out there. I linked to Univeisty of Dayton in another thread. You ignored it. Collegeville commentary is excellent. You ignore it.

If you want respect you have to give it in return. Your posts do not have an “I really want to learn” vibe, and you didn’t answer my question.

Why will you not get a concordance, commentary, and study bible?

Ah, OK, I get the iPad thing. Apologies.

Still, if you think I’m taking things out of context, is it not appropriate for you to help me to understand the context? Also, is that not hte purpose of fora like these? On your logic, no-one should ask anything on this forum but everyone should all just go out and get all the answers from commentaries.

Secondly, I am perhaps more blunt and my methods may not always correctly be perceived. I may, in fact, even be undiagnosed Asperger’s. I know I’ve always had a problem with bluntness and having my way of expressing myself misunderstood. So, I ask respectfully for your patience if I seem to you to have wrong motivations. If you call me out on them and I vehemently protest, as I have done, please just chalk it down to Asperger’s or at least don’t question my sincere motives.

Thank you.

Now, let us move on to actually tackling the issue.

That is exactly what I am doing by suggestion you get a commentary and study the bible.

This is not a medium on which to delve into the topic in detail. I did a 10 WEEK study on 1 Corinthians and a 10 WEEK study on 2 Corinthians and so no, i (or we) cannot simply make a post or two and voila, Corinthians explained.

Casual questions, yes. But “I know nothing, teach me everything”… No.

If I went on a site for Physics and started espousing my theory on dark matter with not one iota of prior physics knowledge it would be completely ridiculous for me to expect the physicists who had studied physics for YEARS to try to catch me up. And if I refused to even take one physics class or read one physics book-- despite their suggestions tondo so-- to have a common ground on which discuss, well yeah they would just get tired of me and ignore me.

No, not at all.

But so far, i haven’t seen you demonstrate any desire to stop and listen to what people say,nor stick to one topic long enough to see it through. Your stream of consciousness posts are hard enought to follow, but then… Just wait 5 minutes and you’ve posted not a follow up on the last thread but an entire new thread about some OTHER verse in the bible. It’s like Faulkner ping-pong. It’s exhausting.

If you want to understand Paul start at the beginning, study Acts thoroughly, and THEN take up his letters one at a time and study each from start to finish,

It’s not bluntness, it’s that you need to simply ask ONE question and stop. Don’t make up a page long answer in your head and the post it. Just ask,and the humbly listen to answers.

I can’t answer all of your questions, or back anything up with any scripture, but I might be able to give you an insight into this one. As an Agnostic, I wouldn’t understand why someone would profess to believe in a faith and then not live it, if you see what I mean. If someone’s faith told them never to do something and they deliberately did it anyway, I would consider them to be hypocritical.

I second 1ke - if you go to a Bible Study, everything should be much clearer when trying to understand.


Maybe I’m missing something, but I see nothing in the forum rules that states how detailed questions asked on here can be.

No less than a dozen or so CAF members have had similar responses, including myself.
Mysty, if you are REALLY considering Catholicism, you owe it to yourself to follow these suggestions.
If not, we can only conclude that you like the sound of your own voice and are trying to show how “smart” you are.
Maybe that flies elsewhere…but here, on a Catholic forum, in light of genuine Catholic teaching, you seldom want to hear the truth. :confused:
Deflecting for the misspelling of your screen name is silly.
Get serious about study.
Please. I think 1ke has been more than patient and certainly doesn’t have it in for anybody. She speaks frankly. She’s actually being quite kind in recommending some wonderful resources.

Edited to add:
You can certainly post as many manifestos as you desire. but eventually no one will read them, and no one will answer. That won’t serve your spiritual growth, will it?

I think, by in large, from now on, I am just going never to acknowledge posts I feel are disrespectful to me. Will save me a whole lot of headache and might even encourage people who actually wish to help me understand issues to reply instead of folks who only wish to stir things up.

Interestingly, an Agnostic person (no shame meant to you!) has been the only person so far pretty much to give me the time of day in this discussion for which I am very appreciative. For folks who would disrespect me, I would ask you to consider this fact and live up to the name of Catholic under which you live your lives.

If you choose to continue to misinterpret my motives despite my incessant protestations, that’s your business. I shall continue sincerely and honestly to seek out answers to the many deep and probing questions I have on what I consider to be complex/problematic passages in Sacred Scripture. I shall continue to ask questions of them, even though they may be hard even for me myself to ask sometimes. That is the what I have very often been doing. The questions are not rhetorical; they are honest, even though they may go against what I initially believed. The mark of a most honest inquirer is to be able to entertain notions that even the inquirer may find distasteful or contrary to what he would like to believe. This is, again, what I very often do, hard as it may be for me…and others at times.

Now, le’t us try to get back to the topic at hand.

That works. I won’t read ever again either!

Since you like Paul:
*Romans 11:18

Do not be arrogant toward the branches.
If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you*.

Good luck!

I posted the quote below in one of your last threads regarding “publically calling someone out on their sins” I tried to be helpful and engage. You did not acknowledge my post and went on to completely argue your initial position without any consideration. I will no longer respond to any of these posts, as it seems truly trying to listen to a different position is not in your interest.

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

**IMO “calling someone out publically” regarding their sins, does not reflect the love and mercy we are taught to show others by Christ. Further, I do not know their lives, or their hardships, noir why they may commit the acts they do. I am not the judge and jury of my brothers and sisters.

If I choose to speak with someone individually in a private setting, I find that far more forgiving and loving than publically humiliating them for some thing I believe is wrong.
I will pray for them, and with them; always remaining cognizant of their dignity as a human being. **
**We are to love one another…above ourselves. **

Everything 1ke said.

Misty, what you are “allowed” to do under forum rules vis-a-vis long posts, and what you should do, are 2 totally different things. I’m “allowed” to make a waiter bring me napkins 10 times in a restaurant then not tip and say “he was too slow.” Should I? No. And so it is with your posts.

Could you please explain why you are so resistant to studying a good Bible commentary? I guess you are free to just ignore me, but ignoring others’ posts works 2 ways, and it looks as if you’re losing a lot of people who have a lot of wisdom to offer.

Salve fellow Aspie!

It was to save the conscience of the fellow-believer that thought they shouldn’t do as you are doing, because of the connotations of the usual mindset of participants in either the sacrifice itself or the theatrical that the text is of. In other words, being in “communion with them” on that. (We are talking about precisely those matters where it wouldn’t trip the pagans up one way or the other, which are what “to the pure all things are pure” refers to.)

Obviously there are areas where we are given discretion how to live our lives with consideration and that doesn’t constitute “going against one’s own teachings”.

A neat way of posing these kind of questions might be, rather than typing an extended hypothesis as a statement, needing our detailed refutation as refutation (as opposed to our just giving information as information), to reframe the idea in say medium-length format as:

  • a question between two possibilities followed by a question mark (even if one of the possibilities is simply “or something else?” or “or what?”)

  • bullet points for the main elements in the hypotheses rather than full sentences rephrased a couple of times with few nuances - the latter being more suited to verbal discussion over a mug of something in person

Bullet points also assist the visual thinking of readers.

Good questions all, keep 'em rolling! :thumbsup:

It’s both, fellow believers and unbelievers in different contexts:

First of all, I appreciate your responding in charity and understanding, and I would appreciate it if others here would respect mental diversity in all its forms.

I guess it is hard for me to think in bit-sized ways and it is hard for me to follow arguments based on bite-sized points, as a subject is usually far more complex than that.

A quick reply to a complex issue usually indicates a lack of carefully considered thought on it.

In any case, thanks again for your kind word and advice.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit