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July 23, 2009

Vertizontal: Correspondence on Alcohol

Matt sent me a copy of this blog talking about alcohol and Christian witness. It is very interesting and I thought it was worth the read (click the link below). One of the best lines is when he says that we have a responsibility to "give people a good example of what it looks like to enjoy alcohol responsibly." It reminds me that too often as Christians, we work so hard to remind people what we are against, rather than what we are for. There is nothing wrong Biblically with drinking - only getting drunk or abusing alcohol. What if we could start taking small steps as Jesus followers to change people's view of Christianity from a list of things that are good/bad or that we're for/against and help them see it's about a relationship with a person that has the power to change lives like nothing else they've ever experienced?! Imagine the possibilities!

Vertizontal: Correspondence on Alcohol


Kingdomseeker said...

Hmm, this is a curious topic.
One thought that I had while reading it is this:
It's okay to drink, as long as we don't get drunk, right?
What IS the purpose of drinking alcohol?
Tastes great, less filling?

We, as modern day Christians hold on to many verses about our 'freedom in Christ' and 'Jesus turned water into wine~therefore it's okay for us to drink'.
Yet I can't help but look at the character of the Nazarite.
"If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink." Num 6:2-3
Do we desire to be holy, set apart to the LORD, or do we desire our freedom in Christ to drink. That sounds a lot harsher than I mean it too, but I would like to see my sons desire to be holy, and set apart for the LORD. We can look to the campus and see the lack of self control of the use of alcohol. I've seen many drunk Christians in my day who have had the best intentions while drinking. Yet I return to my original question;
what is the purpose of drinking alcohol?
How can we inspire the youth today, the leaders of tomorrow, to desire holiness, more than freedom in Christ, AND to not be legalistic about it?

Jon Kelly said...

It is interesting...the vow of the Nazarite is also more than simply alcohol though. They also abstain from wine vinegar, grapes and raisins, they don't cut their hair and are to avoid dead bodies or graves. Then they would also have to make a burnt offering, peace offering and sin offering. Somehow Christians got it in their head that they are closer to God or even holier if they don't do things the world views as bad. I can't find anything in scripture to back that up. A person who chooses to drink is no closer or futher from God as a result of that action that one who does not choose to drink. Alcohol is simply a beverage. Why do I drink any beverage? I like the taste, I'm thirsty, or it's refreshing. What we need to get away from is the stigma that people are less than stellar Christians for participating in something that is acceptable, both socially and biblically. We impose man made rules because it makes us feel better because then we can say, "look at what we don't do." It usually seems to be more about the brag right than about being closer to God. Maybe if we stopped watching TV all together and used the time to study scripture, then that would benefit us on the path to holiness. A relationship with Christ doesn't have to be either/or, it is a both/and. At least in wording, your statement implies that we cannot choose to participate in the freedoms of Christ and be set apart...and I don't believe it must be one or the other.

Kingdomseeker said...

Jon,you are making a lot of assumptions with your last post.
You are assuming:
1. I don't drink
2. I think less of you for drinking.
3. I watch t.v.
4. I'm the enemy

people who drink have a higher risk of liver disease
people who smoke have a higher risk of lung cancer
you can die from alcohol poisoning
you cannot die from sprite poisoning
drinking alcohol kills brain cells
licorice does not kill brain cells
no one likes the taste of alcohol the first time they drink it.
no one likes cigarettes the first time they inhale
everyone on the face of the earth likes sugar the first time they taste it (okay, I admit this might be a stretch)

Man-made rules?
Slippery slope, buddy.
Abortion is socially acceptable. So is divorce. So is multiple sex partners. So is same sex partners. So is getting drunk. So is (and the list goes on...)
There is a concept of holiness that does not include the above.

1 Corinthians 10:23
"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive.
(and yes, I read this in context.)
I absolutely think that the Nazarite made a vow of separation in order to be closer to the LORD.
They abstained from things that were completely acceptable for others to partake in.

By the way, in the O.T., when God's people sinned the priest would make a sacrifice on their behalf.
When an elder sinned, he had to place his hand on the head of the animal sacrifice and slaughter it himself.
Those who teach are held more accountable.

Jon Kelly said...

I think my whole point is about accointability. There are only two sides kids hear about for the most part...either it is wrong to drink and you shouldn't ever do it - or they see people partying and being drunk. I'm an advocate for helping them understand that alcohol can be consumed and can be done responsibly. It doesn't have to be an either/or.

And my TV thing wasn't necessarily about you; it was more about giving up something for a purpose. I don't get inherently closer to God if I don't drink, you know what I mean? It wasn't necessarily about you.

Also, the man made rules thing doesn't apply at all for things like abortion, divorce, promiscuity etc because those things are clearly not permitted based on scripture. It's where we pick and choose our battles. BTW, people do die from drinking too much water. Driving also results in significant deaths for young people also, but rather than telling them never to drive, we help teach them to be responsible drivers. I think the same applies for drinking.

Kingdomseeker said...

"I'm an advocate for helping them understand that alcohol can be consumed and can be done responsibly."

Jon, what are your thoughts on teenagers drinking?
"As long as they're consuming responsibly...?"

Jon Kelly said...

That's an easy is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol so they shouldn't do it. I would also not drink alcohol in front of the youth either. I would not hesitate in a lesson about drinking, to mention that I consume alcohol and what scripture says regarding its use...also talking about the legality issues surrounding it.

Our youth worker application spells this out for our leaders too. Even if they choose to drink, they will not do so around youth. Although it is permissible for a leader who is of age, there is a time and place for it.