Beer

In the sixth chapter of Radical Reformission, Driscoll summarizes the relationship between culture and Christianity by using that old haggard issue of “Is it right for a Christian to drink alcohol?” I was fortunate to grow up in a family that often had beer in the fridgerator (yeah read that sentence again, I was “fortunate.” Many/most Christian families look upon drinking alcohol as if it is the test for faith. Christians don’t drink; pagans do, that seems to be our logic often times. Unless you’re really progressive, then you might say, It’s ok for Christians to consume alcohol (but not to the point of becoming drunk, of course), but they should never do it because it looks bad. Well, the fact is it only looks bad to those self-righteous Christians who have this holier than thou attitude about issues of morality.

I really empathize with what Driscoll writes about this issue. Christians are so prude in this area that we have completely distanced ourselves from our culture to the point of being isolated and inable to connect with them. Americans in thier 20’s drink. Now there’s a revelation for you. The bar and club atmosphere is where many young adults find their source of community and family. Nothing wrong there. Many go out to get blitzed . . . yeah, that’s probably not a great biblical idea. But what if they consume alcohol in moderation? Big whoop. Jesus did. Probably just about everyone in the Bible did. Every great theologian to walk the planet has. But this American prudence in the area has left us cold and hard-lined.

I’m not saying that we drink to fit in, I’m saying that we shouldn’t be so judgemental and condescending on an issue that is far from black and white. You probably can make more of a case that Christians should take in alcohol in moderation than completely abstain (which is what Mark Driscoll believes). I still feel a little uncomfortable when one of my “brothers/sisters” orders a beer, but that is my problem, not theirs. I am slowly overcoming that bias and prejudice.

I really liked a citation from either Luther or Calvin, I don’t remember which now, that Driscoll makes. Women and wine can both lead to sin by man, should we abolish women and wine both? Great point. The sins men and women commit are far more complicated and harsh than the sin of drunkenness. Let’s be consistent.

Christians are often looked upon as people who don’t know how to have a good time. Maybe we could kick back with a cold one and remind them that we celebrate the best of good times, a time that is coming . . . maybe with a big keg in the sky? Who knows?

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2 thoughts on “Beer

  1. I appreciated reading this post today. I have thought about this one alot and I have come to the conclusion that I agree with you that alcohhol in and of itself is not a sinful thing. As to health effects (our body is a temple, though I wonder if that verse gets misused in this context), it is no worse than smoking or even some of the things many people eat. As to its effects it has on the mind, is it any differenct than prozac, or other antidepressants that I am sure many Christians take without a second thought despite the fact that any chemical we ingest into our body can alter our minds? My personal opinion on this matter is that alcohol is no different than women, as you point out, or money or work or sports or any other “ism” that you can think of that can take control of your life. I believe that is where the true sin lies–in anything that can take your focus off of God and become an idol to itself. I think that alcohol is something that should be consumed in moderation and that it is something that should be treated with care. While the Bible does not condemn alcohol, drunkenness is listed in the New Testament in numerous places as being inconsistent with a Christian lifestyle. Of course , we can get into debates as to how drunk is drunk. I think it goes back to control. People are known to make poor choices under the influence of alcohol that are certainly inconsistent with a Christian lifestyle and lives have been ruined by people who make the mistake of driving under the influence. But these possible consequences don’t make it bad in and of itself.Where I begin to differ with you is on the perception thing because that is what I have struggled with the most as I have debated this issue for myself. I don’t think it is as simple as saying “that is my problem, not theirs.” You say that the only people who are worried about this are “self-righteous” Christians. As anecdotal evidence that that is not entirely true, we have friends here in Miami that we went to dinner with. Julie has become good friends with the woman and has had conversations about God with her and brought her to church events a few times. She expressed surprise that we had drinks with our dinner. Now maybe this is simply that American Protestants (Catholics do not struggle with this and Europeans certainly don’t) have had such a prudish, temperate attitude toward alcohol over the years. You might find fault with that. But my point is that many people have come to have that expectation about Christians. If the fact that a Christian chooses to drink causes someone else to question that person’s Christianity to the point where they question that person’s faith and question the value of being a Christian, then I would say that is a problem. Furthermore, I think this question is contextual. I think it is one thing to relax with a beer while watching a football game and something completely different if you are at a party where the sole purpose is to get drunk and people are hoping to hook up or various other activities I am sure you would agree are not proper behavior for a Christian. If I am at the party and have a few drinks, but not to the point where I am drunk or out of control, is that an acceptance and condoning of the behavior that discredits God becuase they know or find out that I am a Christian? What if I simply attend the party. I don’t think this question is so easily answered. I have not thought about it the way you put it and I find it interesting, but I am not so sure it is that easy. I also think that we should take into account the feelings of our brothers and sisters. The bible does say that I should not be a stumbling block to my brother. What does it mean to stumble? Does it mean lead them in to temptation, or does it simply mean to cause them to have thoughts and attitudes that take their focus off Christ? I certainly think that it is capable of causing divisions within the church and that is not good. I am also drawn to Paul’s words that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Finally, there is the slippery slope argument. Alcohol is pretty generally universally accepted in American society. There was a time that enough people disapproved of alcohol that its prohibition was actually a part of the Constitution (not a very successful amendment, however…strong example of social engineering within the Constitution, but that is not the topic of this thread, so I digress). There is a rising movement within our generation that supports the legalization of marijuana. I would not be surprised to see it happen in our lifetime. The basis of this argument is that the health effects are no worse than smoking and the narcotic effect is no worse than alcohol or some prescription meds. Should Christians condone this behavior by being around those partaking of it? Should we partake of it? Does the distinction lie in the fact that one is legal right now and the one is not? What if the one is legalized? I certainly don’t have the answers to these questions. My point is that one could make the argument that by condoning alcohol, we are conforming the church to societal norms which is certainly not what we are supposed to do. I should conclude by saying that I do agree with the premise of your post. But I also want to make the point that reasonable people can and do disagree on this issue and that we should respect those who think differently and if you do think those who think differently are wrong in their thinking, any attempts to change their perceptions should be done in brotherly love.

  2. Hey Brian . . . thanks for your post. It’s always good for me to dialogue with a lawyer – that’ll help get my arguments stated well. We’re definitely together on this one . . . mostly at least. I am getting a bad habit of overgeneralizing, particular on issues like this where I get frustrated. It’s interesting that you brought up the Prohibition ammendment and the repeal of it. Driscoll’s book, which spurred these ideas on, uses that as an example of how Christians have tried to legislate their morality (interesting implications for the many other issues arising in our nation.) His point is that within the culture we created this subculture where drinking alcohol was wrong. Period. Now we Christian are often made to feel as though we have to conform to that subculture in order to live out our faith. I feel for the weaker brother argument, but I also feel that that has been used as a cop-out for people to trump the people they disagree with. We must be sensitive to the faith of others, especially me as a youth minister – I have to worry about that with my church family, and even moreso with teens (one of the main reasons I haven’t gotten into the drinking thing). I appreciate your pot connection. That’s an interesting connection and it brings us into another level of the discussion. I think that the question of alcohol needs to be dealt with on its own terms before pot mostly becasue of the acceptance of the latter over the former worldwide. Not alot of countries are too excited about pot smokers. It comes down to Chrisitan sub-culture versus faith. How can we stay true to our faith without feeling we need to acquiecse to a Christian subculture? Thanks for your thoughts. They are helpful. Adam

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