The Situation: You and many of your friends are out to eat during one of the church fasts at Restaurant ABC. You, being the lazy spiritual one have decided not to start fasting yet and will postpone for another week. As all of you order your food and it finally arrives, you begin to eat.
All of your friends have ordered some non-dairy, non-meat item on the item. But, you are currently enjoying that nice 10 oz. new york, rib-eye cut steak. As Tiny Tim, sits next to you looking down at his plate of guacamole, rice, and black beans, his stomach aches for just a sliver of the fat from the steak.
All of you leave the restaurant filled and go home, except for Tiny Tim, he keeps thinking of that sliver of fat, and caves in. He drives to the nearest fast food joint, and grabs himself several Double-Double burgers from In-N-Out.
You have been at home happily asleep since dinner time when all of this has taken place,
Q: What is the definition of a stumbling block so to speak? Who has the responsibility/burden?
I think Saint Paul answers this one directly:
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” “Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If any one imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him. Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” — yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through being hitherto accustomed to idols, eat food as really offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.
– 1 Corinthians 8 (RSV)
Basically, the rule is love. Whether the person is lazy about fasting or simply was given a lighter rule of fasting than the others, he should have consideration for those around him, because the greater rule is love.
We have to think about ourselves in light of the community, not just in light of our own immediate wants. What I do affects others, and thus I must mind that when I make a choice that is public.