While I love the quote from Patrick Henry in other contexts, in the context of this passage it is more desirable to put an “AND” in between the choices. I have preached this passage many times and heard it preached many times but the theme of “don’t let your liberty in Christ become a license to make other believers stumble” has always been present. The real issue though for Paul is presenting an idea that we are truly and genuinely free in Christ but attain that freedom through dying to ourselves.
I have long felt that one cannot understand liberty without understanding love. Love according to Biblical definition has to respect the freedom of others. You cannot be a loving person without desiring to see people free and enjoying their freedom, there is nothing loving about wanting to control, manipulate, defraud, threaten or use power against someone to bring about what you want in their life or to benefit your position at the expense of theirs. To engage in love you must do the opposite and desire to see people free and stay that way. True liberty is found in love.
That said Paul points to the obvious fact that not all people have this knowledge and some will indeed be weak in their faith. His point is that no matter how free we are in Christ or how much we love to see freedom in ourselves and others, there are always going to be people whose conscience is bothered by certain activities. Even though those activities when looked at through the eyes of reason and common sense the issue really has no bearing on life or spirituality per se, a weak believer who sees it differently is still a weak believer that needs to be loved. They need the freedom to deal with their issues without a stronger believer being a stumbling block by rubbing their liberty in their face.
This is the issue of dying to self-centered liberty and embracing the idea of love centered liberty. Love centered liberty is just as concerned about the spiritual life of my neighbor as it is my own. Liberty through the grace of Christ is a wondrous gift, but if I use that liberty in a way that destroys another person’s faith then I have misused that gift.