Thinking about Drinking Alcohol — Another Perspective

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Take some time and read THIS interesting essay from the recent issue of Christianity Today.

I think this is a very good and reasoned argument for abstaining from alcohol. Not drinking has never been difficult for me — I didn’t grow up with it around me, I decided early not to imbibe, (once I make a decision on something — I’m completely bull-headed about it), I don’t trust myself and my tendency to get gun-ho about things, I’ve seen the utter destruction it causes in families and individuals, it costs more than I’m willing to pay and I don’t want the potential stumbling stone that it clearly is for some as I perform my responsibilities as a pastor and seminary prof. I’m as unwilling to say every use of it is sinful as I am to say every use of it is permissible. I just think it is mostly unwise — particularly in the life of a spiritual leader.

For my position, I’ve often been misunderstood. I don’t think it makes me morally or spiritually superior. I like carbohydrates way too much to think that of myself. More often than not, my non-teetotaling brethren have accused me of being a “legalist” or some sort of “religious fanatic” when they find that I haven’t/don’t/don’t intend to drink. In something that is a mild irritation to me, I find that my non-Christian friends give me far less of a hard time about not drinking than do most of my Christian friends. It’s like they truly don’t understand (or agree with the idea) that I’m just not going to start drinking at this stage in my life. To some, it would appear that this commitment on my part makes me some sort of circus freak. I’ve rarely had to endure intense questioning, polite “jabs” of “humor” or those smirks exchanged between others who think that I didn’t notice them from my non-believing friends. It’s not really a big deal…I’m well past junior high and peer pressure… but it is an interesting reality. I just truly find no “upside” that is Biblical for me to drink, therefore I don’t.

But I agree with this author that the pendulum has swung too wide on the topic. For all our emphasis on “not drinking to excess” or “avoiding drunkenness”, there are just too many stories of alcohol-fueled excess in the evangelical church today and I personally think it is because we’ve become far too frivolous about it. I just wish I heard anywhere near the amount of warning about it’s dangers as I hear the rationalizations and justifications for Christians to use it.

It’s a decision each of us must make — Christian or not. It should be made thoughtfully and carefully. It should not be made with a group of half-sloshed college freshman chanting “chug, chug, chug.” It should not be made when one is depressed or stressed and looking to escape. It should not be made because we desire to prove we aren’t fundy puritan legalists and want to show we really are enjoying the grace-filled life. Being a non-drinker should not be a commitment that we think will give us special status in the Kingdom, favor with God or immunity to other addictive tendencies. But perhaps we should look at the whole of alcohol’s impact — both potential and present. I think if we did, fewer of us would feel that our freedom in Christ need be demonstrated at the lip of a bottle or can.

2 thoughts on “Thinking about Drinking Alcohol — Another Perspective

  1. Trena

    Excellent thoughts. My journey regarding drinking is this: When I was old enough to drink, I couldn’t afford it. When I could afford it, I said, “Who needs it after all these years? I’d rather save the money.” Besides that, my father died at an early age of alcoholism and accompanying factors, and my brother is an alcoholic. It was (and is now) very ugly. Regarding both of them, I do mean alcoholic, not just a weekend or social drinker. My Mennonite cousins and probably a few Baptist friends don’t understand me. I don’t care. Like the article said, my non-Christian friends get it, and there’s no problem. I like the comment about being well past junior high and peer pressure! ha ha

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  2. Brent

    When confronted with someone wondering about my drinking alcohol I usually state this:

    I am an alcoholic who hasn’t had his first drink.

    That usually quiets any clamor. I know me. Just as you know you.

    I am very conservative Baptist. However I take a stand from a different perspective than most conservative Baptist that leads to the same conclusion but I find to be far more true and instructional to our Christian youth than what most of my counterparts state. My belief is that Wine and strong drink were give as a grace by God to people who had to life the tremendous strains of this life and do it without the Holy Spirit. I believe that wine was given for making merry in Old Testament times but it was never for kings, princes or priests. Wine was a picture of the Holy Spirit of God. A precious grace of God that I believe in Christ, He replaced with the true Holy Spirit. Look at the fruit of the Spirit and what man would love to achieve out of the bottle in reality is only achieved by the Holy Spirit of God. And just as in the Old Testament days – Wine is not for Kings, Princes or Priests. And we who believe what are we called. Just as Christ came to fulfill the law the Holy Spirit came to give us the peace of God that inebriation cannot touch. Be not intoxicated with wine for it is excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit. Some may think I misquoted but read it in the Greek.

    I tire of our young people who are taught the Bible says don’t drink wine, and then quote only select passages and when they get to be old enough to find out scripture says other things about it, start disbelieving what they were taught because they were taught wrong. What they should have been taught is the same way we teach them why we don’t slaughter lambs anymore. We don’t find many rebellious teens trying to sneak in a sacrifice do we. That was for then and the Glorious gift of the Holy Spirit of God is our Now.

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