Let me fly my colors clearly from the beginning. I believe that while the Bible is clear that bring drunk is a sin (Eph 5:18), having a drink of alcohol is not (necessarily) sinful. I say ‘necessarily’ because there are times when it could be sinful to drink without getting drunk –
- deciding to drink in front of other Christians who would stumble in their faith to see you drink (Rom 14:21);
- drinking when you have a known problem or past problem with alcohol (1 Cor 6:12);
- drinking simply to gain acceptance from some group of people (Prov 29:25);
That being said, I have made the choice to abstain from alcohol. Given the enormous problem alcoholism is in my cultural context as well as the way alcohol is made – with the express intention to get one drunk (i.e. it’s not wine like in the New Testament!) – it’s wise for me not to drink (1 Cor 9:22-23). I do not expect everyone to come to same conclusion. And as long as it’s not done in a sinful way (see above), then I would have no problem with someone drinking.
My problem in all of this is wondering when drinking become cool for young(er) Christians? Drinking (not drunkenness) has moved from being a matter of conscience to being a standard of coolness among us somewhere in the last couple of years. Now, it’s not enough to exercise one’s liberty to drink; now it has to be waved in everyone’s face. “Look we drink at our church! We’re cool!” It seems like more and more I hear great, missional speakers drop in some unnecessary reference to drinking.
The problem with all of this goes back to my reasons for not drinking – the amazingly amount of alcoholics and recovering alcoholics in our culture today. In my opinion, open, public, in-your-face support of alcohol hinders ministry.
For example, I just finished reading through Jonathan Dodson’s book, Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship. Overall, a tremendously helpful book! I’m thankful it was written, and even have my own fight club starting soon. But twice in the book he makes of a point of talking about alcohol at church-related events. First there is the pastor who had beer at his daughter’s birthday party, and then there are some fight clubs meeting in bars. For that reason, I don’t think I’ll be able to handout copies of this book at my church.
Let me say it again: this doesn’t have to do with alcohol per se. I’ve made my views (again, see above) clear to my church. The problem is, how do I hand this book to a recovering alcoholic, new-Christian and not have this be an issue for him? In all seriousness, I might just lack the wisdom to do so, but I can’t see how to do it without causing a problem for him. Furthermore, I don’t think it adds anything to the actual book! It seems like an unnecessary distraction from an otherwise great discipeship tool.
My point in all of this is simply to say, ‘Yes, we get it – Christians can drink without getting drunk. Can we move on now, and not be a stumbling block to those inside and outside the church?’