The Duty of the Strong
Deuteronomy 22:8
When you build a new house, then you shall make a battlement for your roof, that you bring not blood on your house…

There is a mixture here of the temporary and the permanent. The symbol is temporary and local; but the principle symbolised is eternal and universal. "When thou buildest a new house." It is not to be an afterthought; the battlements are to be in the original plan. The man is not to wait until an accident occurs and the necessity for the battlements is proved, but he is to take precautionary measures. He has to do with human life, which is too sacred to be experimented with in order to find out the percentage of probabilities. But I can imagine the selfish man saying, "Nay, I will not build battlements to my house. I can walk the flat roof of my house without any danger of falling, and why should I provide for others? I am perfectly safe." The same argument is used with regard to abstinence. "Erect battlements so that others may not fall over? Nay," says one, "I am in no danger. I can take my glass of beer or wine, and feel perfectly safe; and why should I abstain for the sake of those who know not how to control their appetites?" Now just look at that. By the law of self-preservation the man would build battlements to prevent danger to himself; as there is none for him he will not build those battlements; so that, after all, the highest impulse in that man's life is just this — self-preservation. Are you prepared to say, "Nay, I will not abstain from intoxicating drinks, and thus erect a battlement, a balustrade, simply because I know I am perfectly safe myself"? If there is any danger to another, and it is in your power, by your example, to erect a barrier which shall prevent the fall of another, then it is your evident duty to do it. But the cynic comes forward and says, "Yes, I know it is possible for a man to fall over, but it must be through culpable neglect or very exceptional weakness, and am I to conform to such conditions? Am I to build a balustrade or abstain from intoxicating drinks merely because of the weaklings by whom I am surrounded? Am I to take account of them!" God's law does, and human law, in so far as it is Christian, does. It is the duty of the strong to deny themselves for the sake of the weak; we who are strong ought not to please ourselves Now the question is not whether you can with safety to yourself indulge in intoxicants, but whether by taking your glass you encourage another who is weaker to take his glass also, and who in due time may become a drunkard and a prey to the passion from which you are happily free...but there is the self-assertive man who says: "I am not going to give up my liberty; it is a limitation to my personal liberty." That cry is as fallacious as it is selfish. Personal liberty must ever ran parallel with the well-being of the community.

(D. Davies.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

WEB: When you build a new house, then you shall make a battlement for your roof, that you don't bring blood on your house, if any man fall from there.

Putting Up Parapets
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