I am about to make a controversial statement.
I am a Christian, and I don’t drink alcohol.
There, I said it! Crazy isn’t it?
What is even crazier to me is that it used to be controversial to hear “I am a Christian and I do drink alcohol.“
It is amazing how things have shifted. I am not saying it is a bad shift. I am also not saying it is a good shift. But the shift has occurred nonetheless.
The truth is that as soon as you saw the subject of this blog you immediately drew your line in the sand. Those of you who walk the same path likely said to yourself, “Yes, finally“! Those of you who do drink alcohol likely said to yourself, “Here we go again.“
Our shields are up and our swords drawn ready to wage battle with each other. It’s what we do best, isn’t it?
But for the time being lets sheath our swords and lay our shields down by our feet. Can we just pick up our drink of choice and talk a little about this?
I do not believe anything in our biblical narrative forbids alcohol, at all. In fact, there are a few passages that seem to talk positively about it (John 2:1-11; Matthew 26:29; 1 Timothy 5:23; Ecclesiastes 9:7; Psalm 104:14-15; Isaiah 55:1; Amos 9:14). On the converse I believe that scripture is very clear about drunkenness and I believe there is no room for debate there (Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:12).
I know there are many discussions of how fermented wine was historically versus today. You all are welcome to debate that, I’ll sit on the sidelines for those conversations as I don’t know enough to shake a fist at it.
What I can honestly tell you is that I do not bat an eye when I am around other Christ-followers drinking alcohol. It doesn’t even blip my radar because to me it isn’t an issue as long as it does not lead to drunkenness.
I am sure you are confused now as to why I don’t drink myself, aren’t you? The depth of my answer may be shocking to you.
I just don’t want to.
I could tell you that I don’t want to drink alcohol because it is a gateway to drunkenness, which it can be.
But if I told you that, I’d have to stop eating because it is also a gateway to gluttony. I’d have to stop enjoying the ‘fruits’ of marriage because sex is a gateway to so many deep sexual sins. I’d have to stop participating in the sport I serve, NASCAR, because it so quickly becomes an idol to so many.
I could tell you that I don’t want to drink alcohol because it is a money sink, which it can be.
But if I told you that I’d have to return my Apple Watch and LEGO Disney Cinderella Castle; because that money definitely could have been spent differently.
I could tell you that I don’t want to drink alcohol because I have seen it rip people and families apart, which it certainly has.
But if I told you that I’d have to stop watching movies; as I don’t think Hollywood really builds families up. I’d have to forgo work and hobbies as I’ve seen both of those shred a fair share of families.
I could tell you that I don’t want to drink alcohol because it leads others to sin, and it can.
But if I did that I’d have to stop attending church pot-luck dinners for their gluttonous temptations and Superbowl Sunday celebrations for their idolatry and sensualism.
I think you get where I am going with this.
The reality is, I don’t drink alcohol simply because I don’t want to. I’m not against it, but I’m certainly not for it.
It remains, however, that alcohol is an extremely polarizing topic.
The interesting part of the conversation is that when I come out as a non-alcohol drinking Christian I am immediately labeled as legalistic. You would be amazed at how many people try to reason with me why it is okay to drink alcohol.
I have never felt pressure to drink from non-Christians; yet I’ve never felt so much pressure to drink than from those who follow Christ.
I know it is okay. I also know it is okay to eat squid too, but I stay away from it.
I really just don’t want to.
By now you are wondering where I am going with this post, so let me bring things in for a landing.
Yes, alcohol does have the potential to destroy us, but it is not its potential that makes it bad. A gun has the potential to kill someone, but in the hands of a responsible person it becomes a completely different thing.
There are many things in our lives that hold the potential to destroy us. Alcohol is just one item in a long list of things that can become destructive in our lives.
So with the bible being void of the words “do not drink alcohol” I believe we are all having the wrong conversation. The conversation should be less about what is and isn’t permissible, and more about how do I protect myself from the potential of ‘destruction’ found in all things.
The question should not be is alcohol good or bad, rather how do I protect myself from being destroyed by it. For some that answer is found in moderation and accountability for others that answer is found in completely abstaining.
Personally I don’t have to risk the destruction of alcohol if it never crosses my lips. That does not mean that I can’t exhibit self control; it just means I won’t have to.
The same questions should be asked of our careers, our relationships, our diets, our habits and our addictions.
I love David’s cry in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
How are we protecting ourselves from the potential destruction all around us? Whether that be found in alcohol or social media. The response is the same.
So the question of alcohol is not for each other, it is for ourselves. And the question isn’t just alcohol, it is found in everything we consume; physically, mentally and spiritually. How do we protect ourselves from allowing ‘things’ to destroy us?
You don’t have to think I am looking at you differently if you drink, and I hope you don’t look at me differently for not drinking.
I’ll even buy you a beer if you want to sit and talk about it, only if you buy me an ice tea too!
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Romans 7:15-24 (NIV)