The apostle and the mayor

Faith & Inspiration | Andrée Seu Peterson

The apostle and the mayor

Associated Press/Photo by Bebeto Matthews

New Yorkers who like their soda cups as large as Wild West spittoons received a last-minute reprieve from a ban that was due to go into effect today. State Supreme Court Justice Milton A. Tingling embarrassed health crusader Mayor Michael Bloomberg with his decision, one day before a policy was to be enacted that would have outlawed 16-ounce soft drinks in restaurants across the city.

Justice Tingling, calling the law “arbitrary and capricious,” has spared the nation the spectacle of posses of Health Department officials fanning the Big Apple armed with 17-ounce measuring cups to spot-check the legality of soft drinks New Yorkers are enjoying with their burger at their favorite eating establishment.

What would the Apostle Paul do? As a matter of fact, we have a pretty good idea of the answer. He would say:

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“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful …” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

That, in a nutshell, is Paul’s position on the issue of personal consumption of sugar and trans fats. It is a wise posture toward a fellow adult (children, on the other hand, are to be trained and disciplined by their parents) in that it avoids two pitfalls of counsel: First, it does not conceal or deny the fact of harmful consequences of certain behaviors; secondly, it does not bind the will of his fellow man. Having stated the truth in love, the apostle has discharged his duty before God. And now, also in love, he allows his hearer the freedom to choose.

Paul sees his job as proffering as much information as he can that bears on the issue of lifestyle, in order to help us arrive at godly choices with respect to our bodies:

“… do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you? …” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

He gives us every incentive and reason for not being a glutton:

“… for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

He shares his own personal view of food and his motivation for self-control:

“… I will not be dominated by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).

“… I discipline my body and keep it under control …” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

But at the end of the day, every man works out his salvation between himself and God alone. This is very different from what Mayor Bloomberg wants to do, at least according to the justice, who scolded that the mayor’s interpretation of his role “would leave its authority to define, create, mandate, and enforce limited only by its own imagination.”

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