Surely it depends in part on the circumstances. If I overhear a stranger on a crowded street using the Lord’s name as a cuss word, my obligation is undoubtedly different from what it would be if a professing believer were to take His name in vain in private conversation with me. Similarly, if the ardent young man at the next table is telling his date that he’s going to heaven because he’s a good person, it probably wouldn’t be useful to set them both straight on the spot – whereas I’d be obligated to speak up, gently and respectfully, if an acquaintance were to express similar sentiments.
Even in these fairly simple examples, I’m sure solid arguments for alternative responses could be made – for instance, in the case of the diners, one might silently hand them a gospel tract or even a good website URL, like www.needgod.com, scrawled on a cocktail napkin. In fact, when you begin thinking about such alternatives, the possibilities can become dizzying.
Fortunately, the Lord has not left it up to us to think our way through such issues -- because in the Bible, He has given us the answer to every problem we’ll ever encounter.
Those answers are not always a straightforward “yes” or “no.” They often require a level of Christian maturity and Spirit-directed wisdom that are sorely lacking these days. But the solutions are invariably there for anyone willing to seek them.
Say, for instance, that you have a casual friend with squishy theology … and that she has invited you to attend her church’s Wednesday morning “Christian yoga” sessions. Do you go, seeing it as a great opportunity to limber up while witnessing to her? Beg off, because you know it’s an idolatrous Hindu practice? Send her a lengthy and well-researched email explaining why there’s no such thing as Christian yoga, and brace yourself for the starchy “dear John” reply you’re sure to receive?
I don’t know that I’ve seen a better analysis of the subject than this one by Andrea Scott Oates of Houston.
Here’s my takeaway from Andrea’s essay: Even if we Christians can personally enjoy yoga’s physical benefits with nary a thought of worshipping false gods, the Bible instructs us not to do it – not because it’s going to pull us into idolatry, but because it could do so with unbelievers and immature Christians. They need to know that yoga is idolatrous, by its very nature. So even when it’s no skin off our noses, it’s for their sakes that we should refuse to participate in such activities, or to condone them through our silence.
To which I would add that how we explain our decision will depend on the circumstances and the people involved. We just need to be sure to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).