Thursday, April 14, 2011

Have A Drink On Me?

Day 286 in my "Year In My Life Through Pictures" blog series

One of the biggest questions that resounds through out Christendom is, "Is it okay for a Christian to drink alcohol?" Even though it doesn't matter what I say, I'm going to say it anyway. I believe it does align with scripture though, so that's my qualifier.

The first miracle of Jesus that's recorded? Yep, turning water into wine. This is where the questions arise. "Was the wine Jesus produced alcoholic in nature or was it just grape juice?" I have no idea and since I do not have the original text in front of me, nor would I know how to rad and interpret it anyway, I'll just say that it doesn't really matter. I don't think that Jesus turning water into wine is there for us to dissect and try to form some religious dogma around. So many people want to throw this into your face and say, "See! That's the ultimate proof that Jesus said it was ok to drink alcohol". Is that so? I don't read that.

I do, however, believe that drinking alcoholic beverages is perfectly fine for a Christian. Now, I will be called a heretic by some, but wait just a minute. Jesus always addressed the heart issue with everything, so where is your heart in this? Just because the Bible doesn't say "Thou shalt not drink beer" does not give you free reign to get sauced every day. It is one of those "gray areas" of scripture that really is a heart issue to the core.

What is your reason for drinking? Is it to loosen up, to give you a little more freedom with your words, to help you sleep better? If yes to any of those then you are probably sinning. Why? Because you getting drunk, even if it's what you call "a buzz". This is spoken of in scripture in a few places. Ephesians 5:18 tells us point blank to not be drunk. Acts 2:13 when the Holy Spirit descended and signs wee given of that event some said they were drunk, which was derogatory in that they were babbling. Proverbs 20:1 says whoever gets drunk isn't wise. Proverbs 21:17 says wine is a mocker and strong drink a brawler and if you go astray by them you're not wise (you're dumb). Bishops in 1 Timothy 3 are disqualified if they are "given" to wine and deacons "not given to much wine". Titus 1:7 speaks also of overseers of the body and are disqualified if they are drunkards. Continuing in Titus 2 older men are told to be sober and older woman to not be "given to much wine". Rev. 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3 are all used as analogies about God's wrath, immorality, etc. Luke 7:33-34 records that John the Baptist didn't drink wine, presumably to not taint his image and therefore disqualify him a a speaker for God.

I think, however, that this is actually a Romans 14 issue. Some Christians are perfectly within their right to drink a little wine here and there, it doesn't violate their conscience and therefore is not sin. Others may be heavily burdened by alcohol and therefore it would be sin to them if they drank wine, they would violate their conscience. Where this gets to be the bigger issue is when some flaunt their "freedom" to drink wine and cause strife between "weaker" brothers. Some like to actually say to those that area against drinking that they are sinning for not drinking wine, that it is a "gift" from God and that to not partake of this "gift" is sin. It is almost a bade of honor, "Look, I have total freedom to drink all of this wine and I am not sinning. You are just weak in your faith, weaker than I and this proves it". Now, that is sin. That type of attitude springs forth from the heart as pride, which is sin through and through.

But I only mentioned wine in my comments here. What about the "strong drink"? I gather that whiskey and such were not made at the time scripture was penned, so it is not even mentioned, but the spirit of the message is there. Also, "strong drink" is mentioned almost (if not every time) in a negative tone. Through a little research I found that the "strong drink" mentioned in scripture was probably beer or ale that had a higher alcohol content than wine did.

It all comes back to the heart. What is your motivation for drinking? Why do you desire alcoholic beverages? Can you function without alcohol? Are you defined by your alcoholic beverage? This is not to even mention where you drink alcohol. Do you go to bars or nightclubs? If so, then you have other issues that you might need to self examine about. Do you think yourself more spiritual because you feel free to drink wine or beer? Do you trust your heart to tell you that it's alright to drink beer or wine? Do you or have you scour(ed) scripture to justify the drinking of alcohol? If a "weaker" brother comes over will you flaunt your drink in front of him or will you put it away so it is not even an issue? Wold you drink in front of non-believers and not be convicted that it might hurt their path to salvation as John the Baptist showed?

So, it comes down to more than just being not weak or having "liberty". It always comes back to your motives, which flow from your heart. That is Jesus' point in everything, to point us to how depraved we are and how much we need Him for everything, even our choice of beverages. I'll not condemn someone for drinking a beer every now and then or having a glass of wine with their dinner, but I do think it is not one of those things to be flaunted or bragged about. Do it in your home so it doesn't hinder a brother, your testimony or the Gospel.

This does remind me of joke though:
Q: What's the difference between a Baptist and a Presbyterian?
A: The Presbyterian will say hi to you in the liquor store.
You are now free to laugh.

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