Christians, Alcohol and Doing Violence to the Scriptures…

There’s a link below.  The people who wrote this and believe in this are probably really good folks.  We do, however, disagree sharply.  Not just about the topic.  But the way in which the Scriptures are used (misused, IMHO) in order to justify a position.  I’ve linked to the article.  And my response from a FB discussion related to the article, a couple of years ago.

Here’s my Facebook response as part of a discussion…not edited well, but with a few additions:

Substitute sex. “Christians shouldn’t have sex. So many lives have been ruined by sex. Adults in jail. Children scared. Women abused and raped. All because of sex. And no one would be addicted to sex if they hadn’t started having it. So we need to no longer be having sex.”

Or spending and debt. Or any number of other things.

Strangely, the article opens by cherry-picking verses from the scripture. The context of Prov. 31, for instance (quoted to show that Kings should not be drinking “strong drink” actually says IN THE VERY NEXT VERSE, “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to o those in bitter distress.” In other words, alcohol was useful as medication.

It further says that leaders can’t be “given to drunkenness.” Which is HUGELY important. Because if God wanted to say, “Don’t touch it AT ALL,” it would say “Don’t touch it AT ALL.” It is assumed that believers at that time would drink. God says, “Don’t be ADDICTED to MUCH wine” (the Greek for those 2 verses).

From the article, “Fact of the matter is this: People don’t associate beer with Christian behavior.” Nor do they associate fidelity in marriage with Christianity these days. But I’m still planning on being faithful to my wife. Since when did the legalism absorbed by the culture because of religion’s false rules determine the freedom of those who follow Christ? Are you kidding me here?

Then the article quotes a pastor saying, “For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life…”

No. Let’s not forget what the bible says. IT alone sets the standard. Not men. When we quote verses out of context to make a preconceived point, then brush aside the scriptures to argue from human reasoning, we set up the perfect conditions for legalism and rules-oriented living. If you draw your lines tighter than Jesus and the Apostles, you need to check yourself. Else you discover you have placed yourself in the position of judging Jesus and the Apostles.

Simply put, Jesus drank. He was called a glutton and a drunkard. Seriously. Check it out. Luke 7:35. You don’t call someone who NEVER drinks a drunk. Jesus drank. So did the disciples. But getting drunk wasn’t on the agenda.

The Christians in Corinth had alcohol at their love feast communions. And they were getting drunk. Paul excoriates them for it, yet doesn’t say to stop drinking alcohol. Ephesians says not to get drunk, but doesn’t say not to drink. Why not? Drinking is how you get drunk. Yet it doesn’t say that.

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do”- Ecclesiastes.

Heck, the New Covenant Passover was celebrated with a common cup of wine.

The article that was posted says, in effect, “Here are some verses that show alcohol in excess is bad.” It then says, “I have yet to hear from anyone who drinks how alcohol enhances anything or blesses anyone.” OK…how about this? God’s gifts are listed as “wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”- Psalm 104.

Most legalists quote the “meat offered to idols” sections of 1 Corinthians to say that alcohol is sin even if you aren’t getting drunk. (Quick aside- I heard the same thing related to rock music, going to movies and watching MTV in the fundamentalist church where I came to know Jesus).

My question is this- who decided to apply “meat offered to idols” to alcohol? The original issue was meat offered in pagan ceremonies to false gods. And if we apply it to alcohol, can we not also apply it to owning a TV? To being on Facebook? To owning credit cards? All of those can be destructive and can ruin our testimony. What about taking prescription painkillers?

It is a peculiarity and hypocrisy of our culture that I could go to the doc for anxiety issues and get strong, addictive prescription pills. And everyone at church would think it’s OK. But if I walked into Walmart and bought a bottle of wine for the same malady, many good church people would be very upset, angry, gossipy even (which IS a sin).

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand fast and do not be entangled again by a yoke of slavery”- Paul in Galatians 5. THIS after saying that “false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you”- Gal. 2. Context- circumcision. Principle- freedom in Christ to make your own decisions in areas the scriptures do not specifically address under the New Covenant.

However, freedom is freedom to do AND to abstain from doing. If you can’t stop at one or two, you don’t have the freedom to drink. Sunday after church, I walked outside to find one of our guys talking to an attender. The attender guy admitted he was struggling with alcohol addiction The guy talking to him has a beer occasionally. So do I. The guy knew it. And was willing to listen and seek help because he knows we don’t abuse it. We’re not making him stumble. We’re helping him walk.

There are plenty of Christians and churches in the Valley that eschew alcohol. And they will meet the needs of tons of people. We’ll be the other guys. The ones who prefer liberty to the glory of our Christ. And we’ll celebrate those Churches that are unlike us. Because we’re all on the same team.