In the comments section to my post Drinking and the Bible, BeachLover asked a number of (possibly rhetorical) questions. Now that I’ve “come out” on my blog in terms of my views on alcohol, I might as well give some explanation. I realise I risk the back-lash of a number of Christians by doing this, but I feel that I can offer some balance to what is often a heated debate.
Before getting into the issue proper, I do want to note a couple of things. First, I appreciate Christian non-drinkers and their position. I am encouraged by their strength of character to be able to stand against the prevailing winds of an alcoholic society by their abstinence. It is hard to be the only non-drinker in a room, and it can be easy to violate one’s conscience for the sake of peace. I believe that if a Christian non-drinker were to violate their conscience on this issue, they would be sinning – even though I don’t believe drinking in and of itself is sin.
As well, I want to make clear that I recognise that it is not within my rights of Christian liberty to lord my freedom in Christ over another Christian. My prayer is that I do not, in any way, make another Christian feel like they aren’t free in their choice of abstaining. Because I enjoy God’s gift of alcohol does not mean that I think of myself as being any better than Christian non-drinkers.
BeachLover made note of the Seminary I attend and their history regarding drink. In light of this, I want to make known that what I write here is my own personal conviction and has nothing to do with TBS. I do not speak as a representative of the school, only myself.
Finally, if I can be shown from Scriptures that what I am doing is in fact a violation of God’s law, I will never touch a drink as long as I live. I mean that. God’s will is much more important to me than wine or beer. The Word of God governs my life in all things and I willfully and joyfully submit to it (as best as I, a sinner, can). Therefore, I am open to any and every argument for or against drinking and will weigh each against what I believe the Scripture teaches.
Thanks Ian. As always, your comments are well-considered and balanced on a difficult subject. Interesting post by Markianus on a hot button issue for many Christians.
I also struggle with this issue. I work in a secular business environment in which I am certainly in the minority due to my abstention from alcohol. I would like to pose several real-life scenarios for which I would like to hear your thoughts:
1) When I have non-Christian colleagues over to my house for dinner, should my wife and I serve wine and beer?
2) When my colleagues at work all go out to a bar to celebrate an event, should I go along? If I go, should I drink alcohol along with everyone else or should I abstain?
3) Should I financially support companies which produce alcoholic beverages by buying their product even when I know that they promote a lifestyle through the media which is inconsistent with my Christian beliefs?
4) As the father of near-teenaged kids in my house (with college looming not too far away), should I model behavior that says that consuming some alcohol is OK as long as you don’t get drunk or should I promote a more extreme stance of no alcohol at all? If I take the former stance, then am I predisposing my children to making bad choices in the future?
I am acutely attuned to the fact that I am countering the attitude within our society that all celebrations should include alcohol.
First of all, I would like to reiterate my appreciation for Christian non-drinkers and their conviction of heart. In particular, I take great encouragement from BeachLover who can be such a minority. Caving in for the sake of fitting in is not the Christian way, and I have no doubt that this strength of character is a witness for Christ. Press on!
1) No, I do not think you and your wife should serve alcohol – mainly because you are convicted that alcohol consumption is wrong.
For myself, I don’t think that it is necessary to serve alcohol if non-Christians visit, neither do I think that I shouldn’t. If I have beer in the fridge, and a non-Christians wants one, he or she can have it.
2) You could go along if you wanted and have a pop, but again, given your conviction, you shouldn’t drink. If it were me, depending on the people I was with, I may or may not have a drink. Were I to drink, it would only be because I wanted one. I believe that I have the freedom to make this choice and am constrained neither way.
3) Do you go to the movies, or buy/rent movies on DVD? Have you bought shampoo? What about a car? The list can go on and on about companies that promote non-Christian lifestyles in the media. We cannot escape this because as Christians we are part of the world, we take from it and we contribute to it. It’s incredible that I can see a commercial on TV for shampoo that is sexually provocative. Even the most mundane things are charged with sexuality – be it beer or tickets to Mexico.
I might add another point to this. Just because the media takes one of God’s gifts and skews it, like they do with beer, doesn’t make the gift in and of itself bad. Is a rainbow bad because it symbolises the homosexual movement? If you don’t want to buy a Coors Light because of a recent commercial you can always by Calvinus – it even has a picture of Calvin on it!!
4) Again, given your views on alcohol, you need to model strength of conviction before your children first and foremost. Children need parents who practice what they preach, and that means you should be consistent in your views.
As for myself, I will have alcohol in my home when I have children. I will teach them to respect it as a gift from God. By my actions (DV), I will show them how to use what God gives us rightly with thankfulness. By His grace, I will do this not merely with alcohol, but with everything. It is my personal conviction that a child who is used to having alcohol around them is not going to be as tempted to abuse it as the child who is curious about that which is taboo. Ultimately speaking, I trust the grace of God who will protect my children and will pray that the Spirit will lead them into all godliness.
I don’t know if I have adequately answered BeachLover’s concerns, but I am thankful for the questions. Respectful dialogue is helpful in all situations. Neither of us should compromise our views unless the Scriptures tell us otherwise. So I will remain a fan of spirits and BeachLover will remain a teetotaller until God does a work in one of our hearts to bring us to the other side. Whether that happens or not, I affirm BeachLover’s conviction not to drink and I hope that I would receive the same! We are one in Christ and it would be ludicrous for a debate over alcohol to change that.