The Question of Alcohol

So, as a student of both Tolkien and Lewis I find it amazing that so many Christians who don't believe it is OK for Christians to drink alcohol, look to C.S. Lewis for wisdom and insight into spiritual matters and yet are not put off by the fact that he drank regularly. He and Tolkien considered it a non issue in there Christian walk. Not that it bothers me, I myself see no problem in drinking in moderation. I think scripture is very clear not to be "given to much wine" but never says not to drink at all. There is of course the issue of offending someone, and a lot of Christians use that one but in a culture (especially America) that only accepts excess as normal, how much more effective is it to set the example of temperance and self control, true gifts of the spirit? Any one can "not" drink and claim to be righteous but that's all filthy rags from what I read in scripture. The medical community has consistently said wine in moderation is actually good for your health. For the non alcoholic who loves God and wants to do His will, the idea of self control, to me, is much more in line with the teaching of Christ. I think these men, along with the many Godly people around the world that drink, are perfect examples of this.

Just me talking and trying to walk it out...


danohlerking said…
i'm so proud to have been credited with getting this bursting-at-the-seams voice started with blogging. look for tons of i-can't-believe-how-much-she-thinks stuff to read.

and just to toss in my $0.02 on the alcohol thing, i'm definitely on the side of our righteousness having to be about way more than whether we drink alcohol or not. that should be a "duh" thing to say, but sadly we tend to get caught up in what we don't do and forget to do what we're here to do - help people encounter God and find the life he gives. that's hardly able to be summed up in "i don't drink."
Robin said…
I agree with both of you on many points but of course I am the one that always needs to through a fly in the ointment. I think reasons beyond do's and don't's have things to do with some Christians decision to refrain from drinking alcohol even though they may enjoy a class of wine with dinner. I don't indulge because of the positions I hold in life ie. church leadership, Christian school teacher, mom etc. We are sometimes so concerned about our rights and freedoms to do what we want, and may even be free in Christ to do, that we neglect to think on "the least of these". Those who if they see me indulge even in moderation may take my actions to justify their complusion to indulge to a fault. We need to realize that why we do the things we do and don't do as Christians has less to do with our own issues than they should with the issues of others. But then again we live in America and for most people it's all about ME and what I want even in the church. The question isn't does scripture give the freedom to but what do the unsaved in our culture expect from those who call themselves followers of Christ.

Carole I am looking forward to stirring it up with you. Cause you know me --- I'm all about expressing an opinion.
Robin Waites
Carole Turner said…
I think the church gives the unsaved exactly what they expect and there in lies my issue with that arguement. The scripture concerning the least of these has all to do with the goats not feeding, clothing, etc.. the needy and the sheep doing these things, it has nothing to do with the needy seeing someone drink alcohol or not. I don't think whether Mother Teressa drank wine or not would make anyone question whether she was Christ like or not, she lived it for all to see by meeting the needs of her world, she personified the definition of a sheep in Matthew 25. My conviction is that I should be more like a sheep and that is my witness. The world has seen there share of tetotalers who look like goats. Tolkien and Lewis both lived very modestly, they gave most they earned away and felt very strongly that that was what showed Christ to the unsaved world. I feel I had lost sight for years of what being a christian really means. I think God makes it clear in Matthew 25 what he expects from us and I am very far from that. I want to say though, I am not judging the Christian who decideds not to drink for whatever reason, I'm not on a crusade to get christians drinking. I'm just saying what I feel God has shown me. If I could ever not be a witch to my children, a brat to my friends, a help to someone in need and a kind heart to a stranger, I think I'd look a lot more like a sheep. I'm working on it daily.
bigshank said…
When Jesus came to this earth, he came eating and drinking. He drank alcohol in moderation and even created alcohol as his first miracle.

There is no prohibition against drinking alcohol (in moderation) in the scriptures. The warning against being drunk with wine even assumes it's consumption. If drinking alcohol was to be prohibited, the command would be do not drink wine. Instead, it says effectively "when you drink wine, don't get drunk."

Since scripture doesn't elevate abstinence from alcohol as a standard of righteousness, the church has been very irresponsible to do so. That's legalism...

NOw, that being said, there is some real merit to what Robin said. We live in a real climate of excess, so we should be VERY careful how we enjoy our freedoms. I don't ever mind offending legalistic Christians (this was one of Jesus' favorite past-times). I do however go to great lengths to not cause a recovering alcoholic or someone who has trouble drinking in moderation to stumble.

I like Beer!
danohlerking said…
i like the way robin put it. just because i "can" doesn't mean it is best for me to do. culture, like it or not, does have a part to play in this. many moral lines are drawn (think about acceptable clothing standards) not based on scripture explicitly, but based on scriptural concepts as applied to the culture we're in. that is NOT AT ALL to say that culture can adjust or redefine in any way the absolute truth that scripture is. for example, in some african contries i've been to, for a lady to wear shorts is incredibly lewd. that's their culture. but it is very real. because we live in a culture in the US that holds opinions about the rightness of drinking alcohol, we cannot just blow off everyone and do whatever we are "free" to do.

the bottom line for me comes down to this: it is for me no different than speed, sleeping pills, etc. there's such an incredible risk of addiction associated with it, and the benefits are negligible at best, and it certainly isn't something necessary. so why SHOULD i? add that to the risk of upsetting someone needlessly because i'm exercising my "freedom" - and it seems pretty obvious to me.

but i don't base my own moral standing or my righteousness in God's eyes on the fact that I DON'T DRINK. that's a whole different ball game.
bigshank said…
Danno, our culture has NO qualms against drinking in moderation, so it doesn't really follow the examples you are giving.

Now, our religious culture has a lot of qualms against any kind of drinking. My point is that those qualms are unmerited and unsupported by scripture, and shouldn't be huge motivators for us. IT would be foolish to completely ignore them.

I drink infrequently and almost always in private because of the church culture, but I'm in no way ashamed, convicted, or otherwise inclined to stop an activity that I enjoy ALWAYS in moderation.

I don't stop eating because I'm afraid of getting fat (obviously;). I drink drinks that I enjoy drinking and I eat food that I enjoy eating. If health becomes an issue, a beer is much healthier than a coke...

I'm working on a sermon series titled "10 common sins that are more destructive to the church than smoking and drinking."

Like it or not, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco have become huge standards of righteousness in the church. Why is that?? It's because it has been taught as such.

The top of the list of "10 common sins more destructive...." is legalism. It was the apostle Paul's montra in the book of Galatians and much of his other books. He was slamming those people for being enslaved to THE OT LAW. Today, we are enslaving people to standards of righteousness that aren't even in the law.

I understand abstinence. I'm certainly not against it. I think it is merited in many situations. I do however put it right up there with being a vegitarian.. I just have to have a good steak every once in a while..
elisag said…
Hi! I guess my stand is that each person have a standard. And each individual needs to decide for themselves what their personal stand is. Like the song says, and something I have quoted many a time "[We] have to stand for something or we will fall for anything." If I decided myself it is okay to drink "responsibly" then it would be a gray issue. I like black and white. I would rather say none than some, constantly wonder how much some is. Also, I have no desire to drink...and no desire for any benefits it may bring. As far as the health benefits, I believe there are many other sources that promote a healthy heart, like, say, jogging, fiber, walnuts, salmon, I could go on and on. But the number one source being God is my Healer. I also don't want to have a bad day and say, boy a beer would be nice, or boy a nice glass of wine would help me relax. Rather I would like to say Lord, you are King and give me your peace. I, like you, also want to focus on being a good example, giving, sharing, being kindhearted, etc. etc....and I, like you, work on that daily. I see no reason in trying to persuade you to think the way I do...God will lead you in His way. I just hope that when it is all said and done God will say "Well done thou good and faithful servant." You, I know, look forward to that same thing...and because someone may drink on occasion will not stop them from hearing those words. That is a personal no way to me is drinking a sin...unless it leads to debauchery or causes another to stumble. I being from an alcoholic family and a husband who was an alcoholic we tend to stand far from the fence. I will expect my children to also respect and adhere to these standards. But as for others I will not judge. See ya soon!
Anonymous said…
If I was out witnessing on the street corner and walked up to you with a Bible in one hand, and a bud in the other hand.... what would that look like?

Alcohol is the cause of much heartache and pain. As Christians we should want to stay as far away from it as possible.
Anonymous said…
Good article on 'moderate drinking:'