Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Can of Worms

I got my can opener, and I am prying open the worms. I've never done anything like this on my blog before, but I am hoping for some helpful input and conversation. I have been thinking about the issue of Christians and alcohol for some time now. I am not going to state my own opinion, but rather I'd like to hear yours. For my benefit, please use the "anonymous" function on the comment section. I am interested in knowing if society views it as acceptable for believers to drink socially, or in their home. I am interested in knowing if believers drink, and if this is an activity that they have spiritual freedom to participate in. I am interested in knowing if believers may feel freedom to drink, yet refrain because of the "weaker brother" principle that the New Testament talks about. So, please comment. Give me honesty. Give me feedback. Give me arguments. Again, please comment ANONYMOUSLY.


Anonymous said...

If you drink to excess are you forfeited the right to truely love and believe in Jesus?

If you are a Christian and you truely seek God, you probably are already aware of your convictions.
People who drink habitually need prayer not judgement.

Is it a sin? Yes, it is a sin to take anything to excess.
Alcoholism is a disease, just like anorexia and obesity.

Anonymous said...

Christians should not drink to excess. I think that having a glass of wine is not excess. I have found a freedom in Christ that I've never known, yet I also have a glass of wine occasionally. I don't feel that makes me less of a Christian. I feel no holy spirit conviction about it what-so-ever.

I will say that I do take causing my brother to stumble very seriously. I am careful about knowing who I'm with before having alcohol.

Many Christians get so caught up in rules and legalism and miss freedom in Christ. In my opinion, legalism opens the door to being judgemental. Not only does this cause many non-believers to say, "see, I knew Christians were like that!" But it also robs that person of a freedom-filled walk that has no comparison and is a cup of cold water in this harsh world.

We all need to focus on loving the Lord with our whole heart, mind, soul & strength. Once we have that completely mastered then and only then should we move on to imposing our convictions on others.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above comments very much...
well....here goes:

To start: I am a believer. I drink. I have on occasion taken it to excess. (Not proudly mind you). I think your post is a hotly debated topic across the ‘net. As far as “society” viewing it as acceptable or not acceptable, I think it depends on who you group into “society”. In general, I the collective social acceptance is of “moderation” but as I think we will see (from more comments), it depends on who you talk to.
I am going to list a Bible verse and a link to a very interesting article on addiction below. I will then weigh in with my opinion.

Isaiah 28:7-9 (New International Version)
7 and reel from beer:
Priests and prophets stagger from beer
and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
they stagger when seeing visions,
they stumble when rendering decisions.
8 All the tables are covered with vomit
and there is not a spot without filth.
Here is an interesting posting about the subject.
One Quick View

My opinion: I have spent the majority of the morning researching Christian drinking, and reviewing my own morals. As I said in the beginning: I do drink. Do I believe that it is the most positive use of my time? No. Do I think that I will be cast to the fiery pits of Hell if I have a glass of wine with dinner? No. I do not say this to justify my actions but to start a point. I could list a bunch of Bible quotes that say it is okay to drink. I could list off the same amount or more versus that shun it. That being said, I find it interesting how each faction (for and against) treat the other like some pariah that is filthy and unclean. Personally, I find the vehemence behind the groups appalling. To wrap it up (not so quickly, sorry): Taking any action to excess is gluttony. Whether it be eating, drinking, swearing, gossiping or a billion other things. (Fact: A person can overdose from drinking too much water.) Drinking to excess on a regular basis can be diagnosed as a disease (Alcoholism). I would be accepting of any Christian that drank in moderation. I will continue to pray for those who drink to excess, as well as those who have other addictions. I would ask those people that would judge to answer a question: Which sin is worse? If you can figure that out, let me know.

Anonymous said...

add on to the above post as I am not really a techie and my link did not work

Anonymous said...

I am probably in the minority on this issue, but I believe it is best for the believer to refrain from drinking. It is saddens me that sometimes gatherings of believers and unbelievers have no marked difference. I personally have yet to see a person's spiritual walk enhanced by the consumption of alcohol, but rather I've seen marriages torn apart, bondages resurface, and morals compromised. I don't think that the whole idea of "freedom in Christ" is to see how close we can walk to the line without crossing it. Again, this is my PERSONAL feeling, and I speak as someone who has unfortunately seen the devastating effects that alcohol can have on a family.

Anonymous said...

I have also seen the devastations that improper of a substance can wreak on family and friends. I respect your views, however I think that a lot of times people are just as prone to blame the substance as the fallibilities of the person. Alcohol is a substance. A substance is something that is “used”. I will refrain from touching on the addictiveness of the substance or sick individuals (alcoholics) to make point....God gives each of us the gift of free will. Our self-moderation and discipline plays into this. If a regular (non-alcoholic) person chooses to drink, and then over-imbibes, it is nobody’s fault but their own. Yes, alcohol impairs judgment…does it impair morality as well? I don’t think so. A person with loose morals is a person with loose morals. If that person with loose morals drinks….does that mean that everybody that drinks has loose morals?
You had said “I personally have yet to see a person's spiritual walk enhanced by the consumption of alcohol”. While I agree with you that your own personal spiritual walk may NOT be enhanced….maybe we sometimes look in the wrong direction. The people that we shun are the very ones that we should be ministering to. Jesus himself kept company with some of society’s worst. I do not disagree that we should hold ourselves to a different, higher standard, but to avoid contact, to stay away from people because they are different….How better to bring the light of Christ to the world….then starting with the darkest corners?
In your comment you said “ It is saddens me that sometimes gatherings of believers and unbelievers have no marked difference.” That would sadden me as well. I have been to gatherings with fellow Christians where it is just like that. I have been to many Christian gatherings however (that do have alcohol) where the amount of people that are touched by the Lord is AMAZING.. Again, I think that it comes back to the people.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting post...because it's recently been on my mind as well. Over the weekend, I enjoyed a girls' nite out with a couple unsaved friends and another fellow believer (who has made it very clear that she feels free to drink wherever and with whomever). We had a couple rounds of drinks with our dinner, then moved to the bar area to hang out more...and consequently had a 3rd round of drinks. I didn't become drunk, and I was truly enjoying the company of my closest gal pals. But in the following days, I kept wondering if my decision to participate in THAT kind of girls' nite out was right/appropriate. What if someone from church saw me sitting at that bar and sipping on a martini?? How would that affect them?? I kept thinking to myself, "I didn't drink to excess, but I also wasn't living 'above reproach' or 'without the appearance of evil.'" In my thought-struggle, I received a call from the christian friend who had been there that night. I told her my thoughts and how uneasy I felt about the night before. She, again, clearly stated that she felt we did nothing wrong. Ugh! More confusion! Later that day I brought the subject up with another close christian friend, whom I admire and trust. She was almost angry with me for putting myself in that situation. And she took a definite stance against social drinking. Especially in public. I appreciated her kick in my pants! I'm almost regretting my decision this past weekend. I know I didn't get drunk (never have), and I know it's GOOD to spend time with unsaved friends (they are a mission field), but how did I affect them that night in a spiritual sense?? I guess I didn't. In fact, there was no difference between them and me. (Other than a few profanities that they let slip). In the end, my mind is not totally made up about what is right and wrong with drinking. But until I figure it out, I think it's best to just refrain.

Thank you for the great post!
I loved reading everyone else's replies! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I Corinthians 6:19,20 reads, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body”.

No one would argue that our society is plagued with the destructive consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Even moderate use of these substances leads to addictive habits. Alcohol-impaired drivers are the cause of half of fatal automobile accidents.

As long as Noah was building an altar, the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma (Genesis 8:20); however when Noah went to planting vineyards and drank its wine, he became drunk, bringing great shame to his family. I do not think the aroma God smelled in Noah’s tent of drunkenness was pleasing to Him (Genesis 9:20f).

Leviticus 10:9,10 records the death of Nadab and Abihu for offering unauthorized fire. Some suggest that Nadab and Abihu sinned while under the influence of alcohol.

Leviticus 10:9 states, “You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”

I Peter 2:5 reads, “You build into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. Every Christian is a priest before God (I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). As New Testament priests, are we on duty only when we are in church or performing our ministry? The answer is that we are priests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For me it stands to reason we do not drink alcohol ever, even in moderation.

Taken from the Message Bible, “Leaders can’t afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer, lest, hung over, they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt. Use wine and beer only as sedatives, to kill the pain, and dull the ache of the terminally ill, for who life is a living death” (Proverbs 31:4-7).

When I read these verses I also thought of I Timothy 5:23, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses”. It is clear that Paul did not normally drink, or he would not have advised Timothy to use a little wine for medicinal purposes. For me, if this exception is followed, possibly we would need a prescription from our physician that a little wine is the cure.

I Corinthians 10:23, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (NIV).

The point is not whether drinking in moderation is allowable or not, but whether it is profitable to our Christian witness. Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (NIV).

May our Christian liberty never be a stumbling block to anyone, especially our young people who need an example of proper conduct from you and I as adult believers. May we together pursue a Spirit-filled life and not a life of indulging in behaviors that mar our Christian witness.

Anonymous said...

This is a great question. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately and I am glad you brought it up. I think it is something that many Christians, especially those in their 20's and 30's struggle with. I do not believe Christians should drink. I also do not have a problem with one who has a glass of wine or a beer with dinner if they feel this is something they want to do. However, I think we need to be very careful to descern why we are doing it. Is it because we can, because we enjoy it, because we want to prove a point? We each are responsible for what we do and will stand accountable before God for our actions. When you drink how do you know a new believer was not watching? How do you know if the person you are with or you are drinking in front of (at a party) does not have a drinking problem and cannot drink but because you are may feel it is ok? I am very concerned about the former alcoholics in the body of Christ who have been delivered from it yet because we have this idea that we are "free to drink" no longer find themselves in a safe place in the Church bacause they face going to a small group where alcohol is being offered. Of course they can say "no" but why should they be confronted with it at all in the church. What are we saying to the world when we have a few drinks at the bar and then get into our cars and drive home? I have seen too many drivers who did not think they had too much to drink get in their cars and cause an accident or even kill someone. I hear it from unsaved people all the time. "I only had a couple of drinks. I'm fine. I can drive home." What are we thinking. Are we so foolish and selfish that we can't give up a drink in order to please ourselves and prove a point. What is freedom in Christ all about anyway? Of course we Can but should we? Isn't freedom more about know that we don't have to do what the world does?

I know that the upcoming generation needs to be reached and that there is a philosophy that sometimes the only way to get to them is to go into a bar and have a drink with them. I'm not sure I totally understand how that works and how you do that without comprmising God's word, but I know that some of these ministries are
impacting many lives and making an impact for good. I would like to see them at work. I think the bottom line is that, if you feel that this is something you need to do ask the Holy Spirit for discerment and then be willing to hear what the Spirit says. It is of utmost importance that we represent Jesus to the world around us. We are to be his hands and feet. Therefore, what would Jesus do and how with what I am doing advance the Kingdom of God and impact the lives of the unbelievers (and believers) around me.

Anonymous said...

"I Corinthians 6:19,20 reads, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body”. "
I agree with this statement, however, in applying it to vices, do not leave out the others that are socially acceptable, but almost as destructive to or as damaging to a relationship or church body: gossip(single example). I am not trying to split hairs, merely point out that even in the church proper social acceptance/socially acceptable behaviour is dependant on the person/people that are viewing that action. I do not dispute the ill effects of alcohol/tobacco/drugs. Not that I am encouraging drinking. But as Christians, we would be more apt to overlook someone gossiping INSIDE the church, while someone who had a glass with dinner may be typecast for a very long time, if not for as long as they live.

Anonymous said...

hey sister great question and some interesting responses!

Anonymous said...

Wow. There are some awfully haughty attitudes brewing on here. It is easy to come on here and quote scripture and give your hard knuckle opinion. But when you have seen a christian brother or sister struggling in ways like this, I wonder how many of you have taken the time to call that friend up and said hey, I've been thinking about you. How's your walk with the Lord lately? That is faith in action and that is what brings true results in our attempt to draw men unto Him. Not a cold rambling of scripture and a holier than thou attitude. Then be on our way to our 'other ministry'.

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why people feel the need to drink. Why do we feel like this is some sort of right that we must exercise? Just because you can justify something, doesn't mean it's holy, good or beneficial.

It just seems like people try to justify why they should be allowed to do it. It's like they're looking for that one loophole in scripture that makes it acceptable. (Okay, I'm sure you're an exception!)

Freedom in Christ isn't about "I'm free to do ____(fill in the blank)." But it's freedom to live for Christ, which means sacrifice, and NOT "What I get to do". Read 1 Corinthians 8 and 9. Paul's argument is about how much he's given up for Christ, not about claiming his rights.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the reasons why I think alcohol is such a hot topic with Christians is because drinking is always associated with being drunk. Rarely have we witnessed drinking without drunkenness. I believe biblically it isn't wrong. However, sometimes it is hard to get past social pressures. In other words, Christians today were taught it's wrong and so it's hard to release ourselves sometimes from legalism. Remember some Christians were also against movies and card playing which we think is ridiculous today. However, if you say social drinking is ok does that mean that gambling is ok? No one makes a big ta do about gluttony when that is specifically listed as a sin. You can go on and on with rules on one side and freedom in Christ on the other. I think it's a topic yet unsolved. I didn't think I would be bothered by drinking however, recently we attended a New Years Eve party and many of our European friends were drinking. Not one of them got drunk, but I have to confess it did bother me some. I have no idea why. That age old guilt I guess.