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Drinking and the Credibility of the Church

Remember the old joke about the Three Great Religious Truths? 1) Jews don’t recognize Jesus as Savior. 2) Protestants don’t recognize the authority of the Pope. 3) Baptists don’t recognize each other coming out of liquor stores… Well that old joke has been put to the test with Pastor Kevin Larson of Karis Community Church who just lost $6,000 in funding from the Missouri because he won’t forbid his church’s members from drinking an occasional beer.

At its December meeting, the executive board of the Missouri Baptist Convention voted 28-10, according to the , to cut funding for all Acts 29-affiliated churches in Missouri. Acts 29 is a church planting, or starting, network based in Seattle. I’ve seen a lot of discussions lately about Christians who drink (I happen to be one of them), and it seems like the whole issue may finally be coming out of the closet.

In fact, I had an interesting conversation with a leading pastor recently who puts forth the fascinating premise that one of the big reasons the church has become irrelevant to the culture in recent years is because it backed prohibition in the early part of this century. It’s an interesting idea, based on the fact that the church actively backed the prohibition of something not expressly forbidden in scripture. Before that time, the church’s voice was a powerful influence in nearly every aspect of community and national life. But after that, the church lost much of it’s moral authority to speak into the culture. Essentially, when the culture saw the church use it’s power over something not expressly a Biblical issue, the church lost it’s credibility in the eyes of the culture.

Is alcohol a huge social problem in the United States? Yes. Should we actively help people struggling with alcohol abuse? Yes. Is alcohol responsible for many social ills? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we should abolish or forbid it.

Reckless driving is a huge social program, but we don’t outlaw cars. Obesity is an incredible problem in America, but those churches who preach against alcohol, rarely if ever preach against over-eating.

Where’s the balance? Did the Baptist denomination over-react in this situation? Should we change our thinking within the church on the subject? What’s your take?

Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash

62 Comments

  1. The world is probably laughing while we all try to find scriptures that either support or don’t support “drinking.” It’s quite simple: We know that getting drunk is wrong. Galatians 5:21. We know that breaking the law is wrong, Romans 13:1-3. And we know that eating or drinking anything that may cause someone to sin is actually sinning against Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:12.
    In response to the argument above concerning overeating, We must all eat, but drinking alcohol is not a must. It’s clear in Scripture, that, if in using our freedom for something we can actually live without, causes someone to stumble and sin, then we sin against Christ and we need to be happy to stay away from it. How do you know who may see you drinking a glass of wine or buying a six pack of beer? Wouldn’t it be better to just stay away from it ? It’s not about being religious – It’s about avoiding potentially sinning against Christ. By the way, I have never seen an alcohol commercial portrayed in a family setting. Even the present world knows alcohol suggests a “live it up” party scene that usually promotes sex and looseness. Though the church certainly should not condemn people who have used alcohol, it should also not promote it! We do not have to partake of something just to show people that we are not against them if they do.
    Finally, God calls grape juice, wine, so all references to wine are not referring to alcoholic wine. Isaiah 65:8 “…wine is found in the cluster…” Obviously there is no alcohol when it’s still in the cluster.

  2. When I was active in ministry, the denomination I was in required me as a pastor to pledge not to drink.  I accepted that as part of my higher calling and higher standard and while I was in active ministry I held to that pledge, not because I believed it was Biblical but because I saw it as a matter of my word personally.  There were no Church by-laws against drinking and so members of the Church could follow their own conscience.  We maintained a standard of no alchohol at Church functions which I think is reasonable.

    Making the Bible say more than it does as a matter of internal Church bylaws in my opinion is implicitly saying to God, that He didn't get it right, or His standards are not Holy enough.  It invariably, to my observation, leads to legalism and as you rightly point out, it culturally is elevated against other sins such as gluttony.  It's OK to show up at a Church Board meeting weighing 300 pounds as long as you don't have liquor in your breath.

    I personally think this Church denomination over-reacted.  Now that I am no longer in active ministry and free to follow my own conscience I unashamedly feel free to drink responsibly which for me is an occassional beer or glass of wine.  I'm still very careful to not indulge in a context where others may be offended.  I'm also mindful of the dangers of alcoholism and because there is a history in my family, I rarely have more than one drink and never more than two and have a promise to myself that if I ever am at a point where I need a drink instead of wanting one, I will quit.

    My personal belief is when we make the Bible say more than it does, we also make what is DOES say of lesser impact.  There's plenty in the Bible against drunkenness.  Taking it further than that is counterproductive.

  3. Mmmm… another law that would have disqualified Jesus, and most of the prophets, apostles and teachers in the Bible from active ministry. But what would they know?Refrain from legalism, apply grace liberally, and if pain persists read Galatians.

  4. Its funny how different parts of the world have different legalistic doctrines that poison the church. In Eastern Europe for instance, it is considered sinful for women to wear makeup.

    Prohibitionist Christianity as I call it is a peculiarly American form of legalism, and I find it especially amusing when American Christians say Jesus turned the water into grape juice and not wine. Its an argument so ridiculous and easy to rip apart that if anyone regurgitates it I simply smile and pity them.

    Real ales and single malt whisky are my tipple of choice, by the way.

  5. It is a misunderstood relationship with God that causes legalism. It tends to happen from the person/people who heard (hearsay) what was told them from the another person who heard directly from the source. When this happens there is a great tendency to add things not said to give credence to what was said. This happens when people just accept what is said without going to the source to hear it for themselves firsthand. Genesis 2:16-17/Genesis 3:2

    By the way Happy New Year 2008 everybody!

  6. The prohibition against alcohol in certain denominations and churches is a big mistake.  It makes the leadership look both ignorant and inappropriately controlling.  Who wants to be part of that?  Sensible people start to distance themselves from these groups. 

    We always hope that people who leave one church or denomination will simply find another that is better for them.  Sadly, that is often not the case.  People seem to have  a sentimental attachment to the ritual trappings of their church.  I've had a lot of conversations with disaffected members of various denominations, trying to convince them that perhaps another church will do.  In an amazing percentage of cases, the person realizes he's being irrational, but cannot bring himself to either go back or move on.

    Prohibiting alcohol is a really bad idea.  It leads to hypocrisy and sets the precedence for other, equally foolish brands of legalism.   These stumbling blocks can have more serious consequences than may be readily apparent.  

    There's a lot of work to be done.  If we're smart, we'll drop the superfluous burden of legalism as fast as possible.  It's dead weight. 

  7. It sounds really like the Missouri Baptist Convention is just looking for reasons to exclude their Acts 29 brothers from the fold.  Drinking beer is as good an excuse as any. 

    I would think it is safe to assume that there are many disputes among these two groups.  This seems to be, merely a political move by MBC to cut the ties, before those Acts 29 rebels embarass them further by actually hanging out with prostitutes, befriending gluttons and attracting folks to the convention that are under the age of 40.

    Of course I can't really say much on the topic that my church's name doesn't already say for me (The DISTILLERY Church).

  8. We once had a pastor who preached a series on the, "Seven Deadly Sins of the Church."  I remember two of those sins being, gluttony and gossip.  I don't recall "drinking" being on that list.  In this particular denomination, ETOH consumption was never "preached against", neither was it "for."  It was a basic understanding that this was not an accepted practice in the life of a Christian.

    I agree that it is a personal issue, just as anyother perceived indiscretion in a Christian's life.  In my own life, I try to stand by the principle of, "fleeing the appearance of evil," and "avoiding anything that would bring accusation."  This is not legalism but rather liberating and freeing to the believer.  With the ills of ETOH in our society, I think it behooves us to be concerned with perception.  Since, "perception is key," and we have been talking about "excessive living," and "lifestyle", then we should make sure we are not projecting a double standard.  In the world in which I work and live, my nonChristian associates and friends would be surprised to see me drink a glass of beer, as well as curse.  I just politely decline and they in turn, often refrain.  Their respect is admirable and they see that true Christian living should evoke a standard that is above theirs.

    John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, was a disciplined man who believed in holy living according to scripture.  While a student in seminary, he even formed what he called the "Holy Club."  Sounds rather smug but it was all based on inward convictions of reverance, restraint, Bible study, prayer, and self-discipline to project the true attributes of Christ to the world.  It was Wesley's "methods" of Christian living that gave rise to the name, Methodist.  His basic tenants still apply, today, because they are rooted in the life of a Christian as delineated in the Gospels and Epistles. 

    Marilyn Hickey says, "A sippin Christian is a slippin Christian."  I believe she has a point.  Too often our Christian lights are not very bright…having become somewhat tarnished.

     

  9. It is funny/confusing to me that when I travel overseas, as a rule Christians don't have an issue with a glass of wine at dinner –in fact, it's the norm to have it served at the evening meal.

    Here it is like we added a commandment: Thou shall not have beer or wine.

     

  10. Not too long ago I came across a sermon from Mark Driscoll on Alcohol. I thought it was well-balanced and scripturally accurate.  Here is the description from the website:

    Good Wine, Glad Hearts
    Historically, God’s people have greatly enjoyed alcohol. Throughout the last century, however, Christians have watered down their beer as well as their doctrine. Mars Hill pastors speak on a theology of alcohol.  Preached 03.24.02

    You can download the audio or just read the notes in their Media Library. It might add some interesting dimeension to this conversation. Funny, how afraid we are to discuss this subject. Is that a sign of legalism ruling??

  11. I think it is telling you speak of this being a personal issue and then end with "a sippin' Christian is a slippin' Christian"

    Not too much ambiguity there, is there?  Christ's sippin' apparently raises some pretty serious questions …..

    I'm reminded for some reason of another old joke:

    Q  Why won't Baptist married couples make love standing up?

    A.  They're afraid someone may see through a window and think they're dancing …..

  12. A lot of denominations do have internal conflicts between established church and the fruit of church plants as usually the plants are growing and as their influence within their district or denomination grows the established, plateaued churches take offense at many things, including music, worship style, casual dress etc.

    The battles play out over smaller issues, such as you note.

    I've watched that for over 20 years.  I've also seen the battles "won" by the established churches and the plants go independent and been part of the team that's gone in years later to liquidate the property of the winning party when their church closes (and I'm not exagerrating on this ….)

    Success in numbers is not a sole evidence of God's blessing (plenty of cults are growing after all) but there's few things that are a better guarantee of death in a church than elevating legalism over grace and heaping guilt on new Christians and new Churches.

  13.  Proverbs 23:31

    31Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the wineglass, when it goes down smoothly.

    Prohibiting alcohol is not a bad idea. As a matter of fact the bible says don't even look at it. Drinking is a big problem in America, and MOST people who are my age drink to get drunk.(The 18-25 crowd) So drinking is probably a stumbling block and it is also associated with partying. So whats the big deal of just not drinking at all. If your thirsty then drink a coke or a cappucino! Whats the big deal about drinking. I never understood it. And I know in other countries this is a BIgger problem then the US and yes their are other countries alcohol is not a tool to get drunk and be stupid, but in are country it is, so just don't drink! Plain and simple. This is not Hypocritical at all.  

  14. Drinking is a stumbling block? I think this depends on the person if it is stumbling block for you then yes i wouldn't go down the slippery slope and end up waiting for the local drug store to open to get another six pack.

    Also there are many studies done that says a pint of beer a day or a glass of wine can be healthy for you and do we not need to be in full strength and health to spread the word.

    In other countries drinking is a bigger problem than in the US?  America is one of the biggest countries where it is not culturally / religiously unacceptable to drink. It's like drinking and driving are more the norm in the US and socially acceptable than any of the other of the developed world countries and i have noticed first hand from my time spent working and living in America and Europe. Drinking and driving probably kills more people that drinking at a party.

    I would also be wary about the health implications of drinking coke and cappucinos again  i think obesity is a big problem in the US and i don't want to see more of my brother dieing or having problems due to obesity which something can be done about.

  15. Well I'm coming into this late – as I waded through all the comments the thing that struck me was that this issue had attracted so many. Given that this is such a fringe issue and there are so many more big issues to deal with – such as how can we be more effective in using the media – it seems a shame that time and time again we Christians get hung up on the small miniscule issues of the day and miss the big ones – guys there's an elephant in the room and we're concentrating on the mice!!! Let's get back to the issues that really need our creative solutions. From a beer, wine and malt drinker – hey where do we all stand on cigar smoking 🙂

  16.  

    Ms. Dawn,

    God’s Word bears a particular fascination for me.  While I’ve never had the privilege of formal study, I nonetheless read and reflect on the Word daily.  I respectfully submit to you that my understanding of Proverbs 23:31 is quite different than yours.  Since I’m no expert, your opinion is at least as good as mine.  Perhaps better.  But since you’ve shared your opinion, I’ll share mine.  (Phil, feel free to delete.  I’m not sensitive in such matters!)

     

    Proverbs 23 gives us great insight into matters of social conduct and good choices.  It also gives us guidance in moderation and appropriate companions.  Consider some verses that come before 23:31. 

     Proverbs 23:19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
           and keep your heart on the right path. 
     

    20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
           or gorge themselves on meat, 
     

    21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
           and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

     

    To me, the phrase “too much wine” implies that there is an appropriate amount!   Of course, this is a verse sternly warning of the hazards of excess, so it’s important to pay more heed to the warning than the implied license.  Clearly a balance must be struck.  For further understanding I look to an old friend, Matthew Henry.  Like all my friends, he’s not perfect.  That being said, he’s very good!  Here’s what he says:

    “…Some particular cautions against those sins which are, of all sins, the most destructive to the seeds of wisdom and grace in the soul, which impoverish and ruin it. 1. Gluttony and drunkenness, v. 20, 21. The world is full of examples of this sin and temptations to it, which all young people are concerned to stand upon their guard against and keep at a distance from Be not a wine-bibber; we are allowed to drink a little wine (1 Tim. 5:23), but not much, not to make a trade of it, never to drink to excess…”

    For context:  http://blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Pro/Pro023.html

     

    What marks the difference between an appropriate amount and an inappropriate amount of wine?   1 Timothy 5:23 says “a little”.  Well, that’s not all that helpful!  Why didn’t he give a particular measure?  How are we to know how much a little is?   It’s times like this when I’m tempted to think the Word is a bit flawed!   (Sigh!)  Since it’s me that’s flawed and the Word that is perfect, I’m going to have to look for another explanation for this seeming inadequacy in the definition of an appropriate measure of wine! Here are some huge hints:

    Proverbs 23:

     29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
           Who has strife? Who has complaints?
           Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 
     

    30 Those who linger over wine,
           who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 

     31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
           when it sparkles in the cup,
           when it goes down smoothly! 
     

    32 In the end it bites like a snake
           and poisons like a viper. 
     

    33 Your eyes will see strange sights
           and your mind imagine confusing things. 
     

    34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
           lying on top of the rigging. 
     

    35 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt!
           They beat me, but I don't feel it!
           When will I wake up
           so I can find another drink?"
     

    It turns out that Proverbs 23:31 is nestled smack dab in the middle of a whole slew of verses that describe the tragic consequences of physical and mental addiction to alcohol.  I guess alcoholism is not a recent invention!  If I interpret Proverbs 23:31 literally, then it is ok for me to drink as much as I want, as long as I’m blindfolded.  Further, it’s fine for me to drink the really harsh, unpleasant tasting, rotgut.  It’s the good stuff I have to avoid.  That, and as long as I avoid the red wine, I’m the very soul of virtue!   Since that sort of literalism is inconsistent with the rest of God’s Word, I must conclude that isolating the verse from its context and interpreting it literally is a bad idea.  

    If I take another approach, and consider the verse in relation to its neighbors, I get a different understanding.  The accompanying verses describe the experiences of an addict.  They accurately explain what happens to the mind and body when the subject is struggling with addiction.  Let’s examine a more typical lack of restraint, one that’s more socially accepted.  How about chocolate?  Here’s a creative rewrite of Proverbs 23:31.

    Do not stare longingly at the window of the Godiva Chocalatier’s shop window,

    Do not dwell on the succulence of what lies under each foil wrapper,

    Do not be enticed to sample just one more… and then perhaps just one more!

    I submit to you that this rewrite, while somewhat silly, is an accurate parallel to the type of thinking that people are subject to while in the throes of addiction.  I submit to you that Proverbs 23:31 is about the longing that an alcoholic feels for a drink.  It does not mean that people shouldn’t look at fine red wine.  Proverbs 23:31 means that if you find yourself thinking about your next drink as an addict thinks of his next fix, get help!

    We’re allowed a little wine.  There are circumstances when we must not drink.  There are times when offering a person a drink is an act of mercy.  There are some among us who would be wise not to drink.  All of the above statements are firmly grounded in scripture.  I restrain from boring you with the details because this post is already plenty long.  It’s probably plenty obnoxious too!  My point is, the Bible does guide us in these matters.  The advice is wise, kind and practical, not arbitrary or inscrutable.

  17. G Man,

    The booze issue does seem pretty frivolous.  I know it's generally the furthest thing from my mind.

    Ours is a very busy, rather intense inner city project.  My personal motto is "Shoot the wolf closest to the sled!".  Needless to say, I don't wring my hands over anyone's nightcap, after dinner cigarette, sugar high or caffeine rush.  We're trying to get the crack dealers to stop making their transactions 30 yards from the church.  We deal with the fallout from death and disease, poverty and crime. 

    Someone came to me with a "serious problem" in our ministry last night.  I entered the discussion braced myself for stomach churning distress, only to leave the discussion scratching my head.  She was really upset because she thought the cigarette habit of our most faithful and hard working volunteer was a bad example to her children.  She's taught them that smoking is a sin, and technically I'm sure that's true.  If the man was proud of his addiction, or even unashamed, she would have been right to consider him a poor example.

    The man in question has openly tried to quit many times.  He always speaks of his addiction as a problem, and the children frequently tell him they're praying for him to quit.  He thanks them, sometimes with tears in his eyes.  Taken in the context of his ministry, his great service, and the way he treats the issue, I simply cannot condemn him.

    Out of love for our brother in Christ, we pray he quits.  We dread losing him to cancer or COPD.  We hate to see him struggle.  That being said, I cannot say that I believe his struggle diminishes his labors in Christ.  I certainly don't think they've made him unfit.  Perhaps they even make him a kinder, gentler counselor. 

    Legalism really is a problem.  It really does divide.  It really does diminish the body of Christ in unexpected ways.

    You're sensible to see this as a trivial matter.  You're wise to say, "Let's get on the the important matters at hand!".  Sadly, in many churches it's these side issues that seriously hamper effectiveness.

  18. I would probably take a different approach and say that in many cases, our hang ups over issues like drinking are hurting us in the eyes of the culture far more than a lack of holiness. The example of prohibition in my original post is instructive. The culture is looking for authenticity, so let's just start being real. If you drink, then great – enjoy it. If you don't, then great – enjoy it. Let's stop these trite sayings like you pointed out from Marilyn Hickey that "A sipping Christian is a slipping Christian" and just get on with the job of sharing our faith with the world. Cheers….

  19. An interesting story. Certainly, this is precisely the kind of petty minded legalism that diminishes the effectiveness of the church. Personally I believe that smoking (and drinking) are not sins in themselves, but I do think smoking is a bad habit and as such its best to try and quit. However, smoking is certainly not something that would disqualify anyone from ministry.

  20. Sorry – didn’t mean to move off track onto smoking. BUT I would say that something I discovered early on in my Christian life (and I do think smoking is a VERY bad habit that will kill you if a bus doesn’t get you first) is that we can’t possibly know what God is doing in someones life at any one time. I have many character traits that I know God wants to deal with, but he is gracious enough to deal with them in his time and in his way. It maybe that the person who is smoking who is happy in his situation is having an addiction to pornography dealt with right now and that smoking is not God’s priority in his life.
    Just a thought.

  21. Since someone mentioned that we need to be about the "greater issues" staring Christians in the face, these habits of drinking and smoking are just two more nails in our coffins to hold us back, trip us up and side track us from doing the work of the ministry of Jesus Christ.  The devil is laughing at us as we "trivialize."  I am amazed how we want to reach a lost and dying world, yet, will not allow the Holy Spirit more room in our lives to make us more holy vessels of honor to do that work He has called us to.  Is holiness and holy living an option?  These "little foxes that spoil the vine," do a whole lot more damage to our bodies and our witness than we will ever realize.  Think how much more we could accomplish.

    And to the comments about drinking in other parts of the world like Europe…I wish I could give you some hard stats, maybe later, but they have per capita more depression, suicide, alchoholism, addictions, and infidelity than most of western civilization like the U.S. and Canada. 

    Phil posted a survey about ETOH consumption.  Not sure how many numbers that computes to…nontheless, the results, telling.  Maybe there should be a followup survey of how many of us look at pornography, ie., Playboy or Playgirl or the internet?!  And we wonder why the church is "struggling" with a "perception image" and tackling the bigger issues.  G man, your "just a thought" is probably much "bigger" than we care to think or admit. 

  22. I guess the question is, "What is authentic and what is real?"  Each seems to have their own answers and ideas…would that Jesus were here to set us straight…but then He gave us His Word.  Even culture is polarized over what they think a Christian should be or not be…how we should act or not act, say or not say.

    I was surprised that some would take exception with Marilyn's quote.  When I first heard her say that, I merely applied it to my own life and for me and some others I know, if we were, "sippin Christians, we would be slippin Christians."  If someone else reads this and benefits like I was, then PTL and go tell a soul about Jesus.

    Blessings…

  23. Dear All

    Having read all your comments I really only have one thing to say.

    How will the world see that we are different if we are exactly the same as them. They are looking for something that is different. God set us apart for him, to be in relationship with him not to be in a Bar/Pub getting drunk.

     I think its down to your walk with christ, if we really are supposed to be the light in the dark does a nice glass of scotch help point the way. I dont think so.

    A friend once said to me that "…we are christians 24hrs aday 7 days a week… How on earth can you do Gods will or even hear his voice when your drunk…"

     

    Regards

     

    ZiiiiM 

     

  24. The Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit is us: love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; Galatians 5:22-23. Those that receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord have the ability to use self-control concerning making the right choices, about what we drink, wear, say and how we conduct our life.  I've seen numerous christians die prematurely, do to obesity which produced deadly diseases and I haven't heard of any christians dying from alcoholism. I believe moderation is needed in every area of life which will produce balance.  I detest church laws because I was raised in a Pentecostal church and the Pastor had rules that were not Bible based.In my church, I didn't see the love of God demonstrated much, so those people weren't good imitators of Christ. If a believer will live out of your regenerated spirit(new heart), you'll do the right thing and your heart will guide your choices. Jesus said " It isn't what goes into a man that defiles him, it's what comes out" Most people really want to see a real Christian who is flawed, yet that person is trying to improve the weak areas of their life by obeying God's word.

  25. Marilyn Hickey says, "A sippin Christian is a slippin Christian." I believe she has a point. Too often our Christian lights are not very bright…having become somewhat tarnished.

    I don't think that some "Christians" understand that having a drink does not = SIN. Being a drunk = SIN. Eating does not = SIN. Overeating = SIN. Driving doesn't = SIN. Speeding = SIN. When the Church or Christians start imposing their personal beliefs on others as Biblical beliefs thats wrong.

    I my personal opinion the Church and its leadership in general have done more to hurt the spreading of the gospel over the last 30 years then they have helped.

  26. I agree that drinking Scotch isn’t a good witness. It implies that Christians have poor taste in alcohol. Single malts are far better…

    On a less serious note, to simplistically say all Christians who drink alcohol are in bars getting hammered is yet another example of how ludicrously polarised people seem to be in this debate.

  27. Mr Dillon

    Are you a complete buffoon sir?

    The Definition of Drunk:Intoxicated with alcoholic liquor to the point of impairment of physical and mental faculties.

    This does not mean hammered drunk or whatever slang terminology you use nowadays.

    It means that only after one drink you have impaired yourself. Obviously you must be a drunkard and utterly impaired to have written such drivel and are well on the way down the slippery slope…

  28. Obviously only us “drunkards” have a sense of humour.

    More seriously, are you suggesting that Jesus impaired himself? He drank wine, after all.

  29. Dear Ziiiim,

    I am not a Christian, but have been going to church to learn about Christ. I'm not quite sure what I believe yet.

    I do know however that from reading you comments, you definitely would not be able to relate to me or my non-Christian friends (or my Christian friends for that matter). This is because you seem to be very judgmental also very rude, calling Mr Dillon (who is obviously one of your fellow Christian's, a 'buffoon'), does it not say in the Bible that you believe in that calling your brother a fool is in danger of the fire of hell?

    … if you're not sure, as a non-Christian who seems to know more about Christianity than you, I'll point it out. It's Matt 5:22. 

    It's a very good job I have my head screwed on, otherwise I could end up reading comments like you're and assuming that all Christians are like you and run a mile (but I know they are not).

    I will continue to learn about Christ and see how it goes, I strongly suggest that you do to, as I'm unsure of what religion you are representing currently, it's definately not Christianity.

    Yours feeling sorry for stupid ignorant people

    James 

  30. Mr Dillon

    If you check with your history books it tells us that Wine back then was far less potent as it is today, and would actually help and aid digestion and cure stomach aches…

    The liqour avaible today is far more potent and does impair oneself quite easily…

    Im sorry that you find this subject something humorous whilst thousands of peoples lives are hanging in the tight grip of alcoholism and your busy making silly comments.

     

     

  31. Forgive me, but if wine was far less potent “back then”, then how do you account for John 2 verse 10 which would seem to indicate wine was equally potent in those days?

    Obviously, alcoholism is no joke and those in the grip of it need deliverance. Legalism is no joke either, and those in the grip of that are equally in need of deliverance.

  32. Mr Dillon

    Bringing out the choicest wine doesn't mean it is as potent what are you blithering on about… 

    I do believe that you should really study the bible.. The road you are on is very slippery… Proverbs talks and warns us about the follies of the drunkards like yourself and i do believe that once on this path of destruction it is inevitable that you will one day wake up a homosexual….

    I pray for your grip to unloosen and be delivered… 

  33. Leaving aside the obvious idiocy of linking alcohol to homosexuality, regardless of relative potency wine was clearly intoxicating in the Bible, as this verse indicates.

    Also, why would the Bible contain warnings about drinking too much wine if it wasn’t potent?

  34. My comment was meant to be a response at the end here to all the above, but it got posted a couple scroll rolls up. Ah, well. That's a good spot for it too. 

  35. Interesting conversation, but I couldn't help noticing the ad for "Chuggler" to the immediate left of the article. Do you regulate the ads on the site, Phil? That might be one ad to avoid.

  36. To start out, I love this quote "it’s important to pay more heed to the warning than the implied license", by Ms Elizabeth. If you did not get a chance to read her expounding on the Proverbs passage above, please scroll up. Then come back and read me. 😉

    Alright, here we go. I see ditches we must look out for on both sides of the straight and narrow path of our Christian lives:

    1. on one side we are afraid to loose our freedom to take the occasional drink,

    2. on the other side we are afraid if we don't preach that alcohol is a sin, everyone will become addicts,

    If you would humor me for a second, I wanted to add one Biblical text that has not been included in the discussion above so that I could perhaps add another dimension to the topic.

     —————-

     A Modern Setting for 1 Corinthians 8 (please feel free to read the actual passage in your Holy Scriptures)

     1 Corinthians 8

     1Now about alcoholic beverages: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God. 4So then, about drinking beer: We know that God’s word has never directly condemned alcohol except in the context of one who is addicted to it (Prov 23:31), we also know that the Son of Man has partaken of wine and that He was still without sin…

     7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still accustomed to a culture that abuses its strong drinks and therefore they associate any consumption of alcohol to be sin by association, and since their conscience is weak, if they drink, it is defiled. 8But wine does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not drink, and no better if we do.

     9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge drinking in a bar, won't he be emboldened to drink, even thought he believes it to be a sin? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I drink causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never drink beer again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

     ——————-

    So what is the answer:

    perhaps it is twofold:

    1st- the ones who do consume strong drink should not be afraid to give up the strong drink if it will aid in the kingdom of God…

    2nd- the ones who preach against drinking in all circumstances should repent of adding to the Word of God in similar manner to the Pharisees (see Matthew 15:7-20). 

    Does Paul desire the Corinthian believers remain in their ignorance about food sacrificed to idols (the original culture issue of the day)? NO. He is a firm believer in the EDUCATION of the conscience with the principles of God's Word. (is our case that would include 'moderation', and 'abstaining' if called for, plus a healthy dose of knowing ‘just what exactly does the Bible teach on the matter’ and when its talking about wisdom or when its talking commandment)

    PLEASE take an honest look at what the scripture is ACTUALLY saying. Both sides.

    AND PLEASE be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger… and throw in humility and genuine concern and love about your brothers and sisters in Christ and their lives here in this world and in the kingdom come. We’re all in this together, we might as well learn to love each other.

    In Love,

    Peter

     

  37. "Most people really want to see a real Christian who is flawed, yet that person is trying to improve the weak areas of their life by obeying God's word."  This is not the model of a mentor or even a mature believer.  We are all "flawed" from the fall through our sin nature.  But the new birth through redemption by Jesus' shed blood, brings us to the reality of, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."  The literal translation is "passing away."  We know full well that through a personal relationship with the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we daily must "die" as Paul illustrates.  Doesn't mean we will not make mistakes but we should be pressing daily "towards the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 

    That said, my father-in-law early on in his life went to church but after marrying, he left the church and God and lived a life of a sinner.  He was a hard worker but he loved the weekend partying at the local bars and clubs.  About five years ago at the age of 74, he started watching John Hagee and got saved.  He began going to church and, now, you can't keep him away from church.  The bars and clubs are history.  During those lost, wayward decades of his life, if you as a believer had come to him and tried to tell him about Jesus with a glass of beer in your hand, he would have laughed you to scorn.  Even as a sinner, he knew the life that a true Christian should represent.  If a person was a real believer and follower of Jesus, he wanted to see someone who not only had the love of God in them but who was changed and willing to live above the world's standards.  My father-in-law had seen "both types of Christians" and he wanted to follow after those who not only "talked the talk but who…walked the walk."

  38. What if Jesus came up to him at a wedding holding a glass of wine which he just miraculously changed from water?

    Are you and your father-in-law more Holy than Jesus?  Did Jesus walk the walk?

  39. AmeriKan – I've been reading your posts here for some time now, and I'm starting to realize your love-hate relationship with this site.  I think you're really attracted to the conversations and subjects Phil deals with, but I don't think you're being honest with yourself.  You're Biblically smart, so you know drinking isn't prohibited in the Bible.  Sure someone can nit-pick how alcoholic it was, or drinking to much, but the fact is, it's interesting that for Jesus' first miracle (and He could have chosen anything) He chose to turn water into wine.  You know this, and yet a small voice inside that you've grown up with just doesn't want to believe it.  So you try to use your father-in-law's story or a cute line from Marilyn Hickey or something else to justify that voice, but deep inside, you know the Bible is silent when it comes to prohibiting alcohol.  You do this with other areas as well, and my only advice is to be honest with yourself, and more than anything, TRUST yourself and trust the Bible.  Whatever "religious" baggage you grew up with, you have to let go in light of the scripture.  From your writing style, I would estimate that you're in your late 50's or older, which means you grew up in a generation with a lot of issues with alcohol.   But where the Bible is silent, we should be silent.  Focus on the positive, and I think you'll see a dramatic change in your life.  I like this blog because it's about solutions, but you can't offer solutions until you can get past all those negative voices telling you what's wrong about this stuff.  You're obviously a good man, but I for one would like to see you open up a little more to the possibilities being discussed here…

  40. The greater question would be, WWJD, today?  Since we are all about perception in today's 21st Century, I think Jesus answers the question in his own words in Luke 17:1-2.  "Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!  It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into the sea, than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones."  The apostle Paul further reinforces this thought in I Cor 8:9…"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak."  v. 13, "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."  In the context of these verses and in the context of today's society, Jesus would not have partaken of alcohol anymore than he would have "shot up" drugs or be heard cursing. 

    The principles of thse verses are of significance. There are many acts or actions in the Christian life, which, while not forbidden in the word of God, would yet cause needless harm to weaker Christians or even seeking unbelievers.  While we might have the right to participate in them, a greater right is to forego that right for the spiritual welfare of our fellow believers and as a witness to the unbeliever.

  41. That's wonderful that you have that figured out and believe you know what Jesus would do today despite what He did in the past.  I guess Jesus' life and the Bible are not enough, for some, although I find it more than enough for me.

    Best of luck to you.

  42. Ronnie, following is a link to an article of interest on the same topic, posing more consideration…may broaden your novitiate horizons.

    rbc.org/bible_study/answers_to_tough_questions/answers/30797.aspx

     

  43. What about the scripture that says our body is the temple of Jesus?  Does that mean we can intentionally pur ETOH in out bodies?  Doesn't ETOH kill brain cells?  I am not only singling out ETOH but overeathing, use of tobacco, etc.   These are all unhealthy and should be abstanined.  Why do we need to drink anyway?  Isn't your walk with God enough or do you need to put yourself first and drink.  As long as you are drinking you are going to defend this act to the hilt.  Maybe it is Satan and sin covering your eyes to this action.  The wine talked about in the Bible was not fermented.  Maybe you should do some studying to find this fact out for yourself and then go from there.  I can't imagine Jesus sitting around having one beer or maybe to when he has God in his life.    THINK ABOUT IT. 

  44. I'm reading here and all I see is legalism this, legalism that.   You miss the whole point.  It is only legalism when you don't act out of LOVE toward God.  If you love God with all your heart you will want to abstain from ETOH, overeating, smoking, etc.  If you are in a church that prohibits it and you move on to another church that justifies it is okay to drink, you are doing this for yourself and maybe not for the love of Jesus and God.  God designed church for us but if you keep going from church to church just to fit your life style or because you want to be able to use ETOH and not be judged by  that particular church, then you are changing churchs for the wrong reason.   This is for yourself and not for God. 

  45. I haven't read  *all* the responses.  I have five kids and little time, but it brought to mind some recent conversations I have had about the state of the church.  I see two problems:  A.  A complete lack of biblical teaching and attempt to adhere to that teaching and B.  The resulting everyone does that which is right in their own eyes emergent church, the offspring of the seeker sensitive movement, AKA (in me-speak) Seeker Sensitive on Steroids.  

    A friend, who was not really getting what I was saying about the emergent movement cuz her church is just old school Vineyard and still on solid biblical ground and not sitting around having the conversation, finally got it when she spoke with a favorite babysitter.  She wrote:

     

     "I just had a conversation with our babysitter, who is 21, and whom I've known since she was 13.  She spent 4 weeks at the end of summer ministering in New Orleans w/ some leaders she's known for a long time and whom she'd looked up to.  Over the phone, I had asked her if it was what she expected… and when we talked tonight, she said it wasn't.  She was hoping that this group was *it* for the way on for her personally, in ministry and leadership development.  The group got a federal grant for rebuilding a faith-based community center, and one of their methods of "ministry" and to get the community feel like the church is really a part of them is to go out drinking w/ the people that they're supposedly ministering to!  She said, "I don't mean a beer or two.  I mean to clubs and getting plastered."  She could see how that was not very effective, and giving a mixed message to the people, and to others, who this ministry wants to attract to join their team.  She said, if nothing else, it confirmed to her that it was *not* the way she wanted to go, which was disappointing to her — disappointing in the leaders' behavior and approach, and disappointing because it was like a door closed for her, and since she's come back, they've called several times and offered her a full-time paid position, which she has refused.
     
    She's involved in a very large church that's right down the street from me, ministering to the junior high age kids, both helping with worship, and leading a discussion table.  Her brother-in-law recently joined staff with that church, so her sister J* has been building relationship with other women — wives of staff members, and women who are on staff.  J* was just invited to a trip to Las Vegas with a group of them, where she was completely shocked, blown out of the water, that apparently, the sole purpose of the group going to Vegaswas for all of them to get plastered, drunk.  She said that a bunch of the girls even packed bottles of liquor in their suitcases in anticipation.  J* was the *lone* non-drinker in the group and very uncomfortable, mortified as one of the girls, dead drunk, was going around asking people if they loved Jesus like she did.
     
    So, M* (our babysitter, Jessica's sister) is in the midst of re-evaluating where she is, where she's going, and how she's going to get there, and if she should even continue ministering at that church.
     

    All that to say, she totally agreed with me that there's a movement afoot (I didn't call it by the "emergent" name) to have churches/Christians be "relevant" to the world, in their communities, and, among other things, it's resulted in serious drinking being OK or even encouraged, which is not what she personally believes is right.  She said, "Not that I have anything against a beer or a glass of wine, but when you've consumed so much alcohol that it impairs your ability to choose rightly and to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, you've gone way too far, and I see people doing that more and more." 

    ***

    About that time I had a conversation with a "solid" Christian girl that is a lifeguard at the local pool.  She goes to TobyMac concerts, has been in a Baptist church from the womb and loves her young adults group:  Here's what I wrote to my friend:

     

    I  was talking with her the  other day and she was telling me about  college plans and then I asked about her boyfriend.  She told me w/o  apology or missing a beat that they would be moving in together after her obligatory one semester in the dorms was up…..as in "I love  church, I love  my young adults group, we boat and have so much fun, I  am going to Relient K and Toby Mac and Cannot Wait AND I am moving in  with my boyfriend next spring."  No disconnect.  They have no biblical grid.  They  are ripe to join emergent cuz it sounds so concerned for the poor!!   What could be wrong with concern for the poor?!  Sigh. 

     

    ***

    People are all about culture.  A little Jesus culture, a lot of secular culture.  Very little holiness or cross.

    The Vineyard pastors we used to hang with got into emergent and the last pastors meeting we went to was full of cussing, raunchy jokes, and laughs about getting ripped together.  Did we take a wrong turn to the Peppermill cocktail waitress break room?  Sigh.  It is a WEIRD time to try to be a Christian cuz the meaning is so twisted right now. 

     

    Which leads to my point about drinking.  One of the main ideas in the Bible is NOT suiting yourself, not letting your liberty be an occasion for stumbling.  If you will stumble your Baptist friend, don't drink.  If you will confuse your heathen friend, don't drink.  If you will not be able to stop, don't drink.  IF you can drink in moderation w/o stumbling those you are presently with, do so.  Or drink in moderation privately.  It seems straight forward to me, but we are in the age of suit yourself, everyone else be d*mned, as the emergent movement seems fundamentally driven, not by a supposed love for the poor and people so much as by a spirit of SELF-worship and of rebellion.  

    ~RCG 

     

     

  46. Fine line- I found this site because I was trying to work some things out in my mind….Does the Bible forbid alcohol? Sort of, but not entirely. It’s POSSIBLE the wine Jesus made from water was not fermented. I’m not convinced of that. I am convinced, however, drunkenness is a bad idea…and this comes from a drinker- and it’s a slippery slope from "social drinker" to drunk.

    1Corinthians 5:11

    11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

  47. The issue here is the belief in self-control, the Bible does not say that Drinking in of itself is wrong or should be forbiden, however, what people are afriad of is the resemblence of evil. Keep in mind, most people believe that one cannot have just drink, but rather two or more and therefore, this is preached against in most churches. When I have heard sermons about alcohol, most times it’s mentioned in the context of the pre-saved life. But what is almost always missed is that in someone’s “BC days”, there were some many other desires that influenced someone’s desire to get drunk. As one of the posters said earlier, folks drank at parties to get drunk and this is because it helpped them let their hair down or do things that was outside of their character. What is not being addressed is why folks feel the need to do things that make themselves step outside of their shell. Drinking Alcohol in of itself is not sinful, however, notice how in the old and new testiments drunknesses is almost always synonomous with gluttony. Why? because people get drunk to lose control over the inhabitions, I was like that in college and high school because I wanted to get over my fear of rejection and alcohol gave me something to over-come my self-esteem. Without it, I would probably stand in the back of the party and never speak to females. So what did I learn, I had self-esteem issues, Alcohol was no more of an excuse to get me out of my shell. I don’t think that I am any different than most people because I saw many folks act completely different when they were sober. The same thing with food, I over-ate because food became comforting to me when I was down and depressed.

    Now by the grace of God and his Son Jesus Christ, I no longer feel trapped or a slave to food or drinking. I am now able to resist temptation to over-eat or get drunk because I have faith and wonderful relationship with our Saviour.

  48. I think there is every reason for Christains to abstain.  Paul said that just because something is permissible doesn’t mean it is wise or best.  Do Christians really need to be like the world and use alcohol to sedate ourselves?  Do Christians really want to support an industry that results in so much destruction?  Frankly I would not want to be a part of a church where leaders practiced or approved of drinking because I would not want my children to be encouraged to experiment with it.  Call me a legalist if you like, but legalism is not obeying clear commands or scriptures …such as avoid all appearance of evil, don’t be a stumblingblock….ect… walk circumspectly…  Let me make one final observation.  I have listened to some pastors promote the moderation view of drinking and then denounce gambling.  I don’t think Christians ought to gamble either, but if you compare what the bible says about either subject…and your question was…which does the bible condemn… drinking would be the obvious answer. 
    Many argue that drinking is not sin… but should anything that could lead to sin be encouraged?  How many pastors would say that it is okay for unmarried people to “pet” just as long as they don’t cross “the line.”

    What must the world think of us.  We drink like they do.  We cuss like they do.  The singles sleep around and the marrieds play around.  May the Lord deliver us!

  49. Totally back your line of reason, I live in Africa and in most countries if you drink one glass of wine at a meal or one beer, you are seen not to be a Christian.

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