Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Church Split Over Alcohol? Not A Trick Question

A church in my general area has been embroiled in a debate lately. Seems that a vote to sell alcohol in the county this church is located was really being pressed for by some residents. To do this a certain amount of names on a petition were needed. Not much of a story here and you might be asking “Jeff, why is this a church issue?” The issue became a church issue, when some of its members voice their beliefs that alcohol should be sold in their county and that they were going to sign this petition.

This church has within their Church Covenant the following wording as far as what they will and will not do as a body “to abstain from the sale of, and use of, intoxicating drinks as a beverage”. In my opinion, these members that chose to promote this petition have gone against this part of their churches covenant. Apparently these people had been voicing their opinion FOR alcohol sales which garnered the attention of the church elders. These folks were visited, reminded of the church covenant they agreed to upon being made members of the church, given another copy of the covenant and informed that if they were to promote the sale of alcohol they would be removed as members from the church. These 20 or so people decided that their “personal freedoms” were greater than their covenant with this body of believers. They were not “kicked out” as some news agencies reported, as they were welcome to come back any time and would be allowed to be reinstated as members if they apologized.

The debate is happening on the West Kentucky Star website (since posting this blog the WKStar website has removed all comments to this story). I have chimed in some throughout and offer you the same freedom to do so. There are a lot of people commenting that claim to be Christians, but seem to have forgotten that “personal liberties” are non existent when a person is converted. The new creation seems to be a foreign term to them. Of course there are atheists commenting as well and people saying this church has no right to discipline these people. After all, they can choose to drink of they want to, they can do on their own time, what they choose to do and no body better say anything about. If you don’t like it, lump it, hmph! Of course, any true Christian would know that they lost their “personal freedom” upon conversion, they were bought with a price, they are now a doulos, a slave to the Lord, they have forsaken everything and follow Christ, they seek holiness and shun this world and the evil of it….. including alcohol.

I have wanted to comment a lot of things so badly on the West KY Star site, but was restrained in doing so. I did comment some, and what I did comment was bible. I do extend my personal invitation to go there yourself. The story is also on the local NBC affiliate here – seems like more of the same comments there the “judge not” phrase is being thrown around a lot as well as name calling and much more. What would your church do? Would the members of your church even be in this predicament? Does your church practice church discipline?

All in all everyone involved with situation is in need of prayer. I would suggest praying for wisdom, love, repentance and a deeper understanding of what a covenant is and what forgiveness entails. Many bridges have been burned at that church, many hearts broken and many families torn, but God can mend any of those with just a Word. Pray that there is restoration.

Also on a personal note, I would like to thank you for being patient through my sabbatical. I have been pampering my wife through her healing process. God has been really gracious to us over the past 6 weeks or so. Our church family has been very, very wonderful as well, with many of them preparing dinner for us over the past 2 ½ weeks. They have all been such a blessing and we love each of them greatly. We thank God for them and for allowing us to become part of a real church family.


Anonymous said...

I commend the church for practicing biblical church discipline, but not for having such a clause in its covenant. That's adding to Scripture's mandates and seems ridiculous to demand adherence to so strict a standard. The church is technically in the right here, IMO, but I think the covenant should be revisited.

Jeff said...

I think they had the alcohol part put in their covenant because they were in a dry county..... and wanted to keep it that way.