Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Beer or not to Beer?

A discussion began this week, revolving around the biblical view of alcohol consumption, specifically as it applies to Christians, though I believe the reflection serves all well.  Basically is it okay to drink?  Initially this was not an issue I really cared to weigh in on, simply because the bible does not make an issue of having a drink, though it does about being drunk.  When it comes to drinking I have personally experienced both the wet & dry side of the issue and have my personal convictions.

In the Free Methodist Tradition, John Wesley established the Quadrilateral equation, which meant including Scripture, Tradition, Experience and Reason when reflecting on spiritual matters. Scripture and my experience has helped to establish my conviction when it comes to drinking.  I am also a person of logic, so reasoning plays a big part as outlined below.

1. The Bible does not say to not drink alcohol: "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart." ~Psalm 104:14-15.  It does however say  do not get drunk "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." ~Ephesians 5:18 (among others).  So scripturally speaking  it is a personal choice although there is another wise verse to consider that reads "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive." ~1 Corinthians 10:23

2. The risks far out weigh any benefits. Risks include, alcoholism; our witness; DUI; drunken regrets, the cost per drink. Benefits: Social ease & comfortablility?

3. If you are not drinking to catch a buzz - why drink? What is the qualifier for being drunk? If you are catching a buzz then you are in a drug induced altered state from that which God has created you. Is that considered drunk?

4. If it is the taste, you can purchase most forms of beer and alcohol in non-alcoholic forms that taste almost exactly the same.

5. Good stewardship - Paying for an alcoholic beverage is far more expensive than a non alcoholic one. If you are not drinking to get drunk why spend the extra $$.

All that being said, while I do not drink, and see very little good reason to drink, I would not stand in judgment of someone who enjoys an occasional or social drink.  If I was asked my opinion, I would share scripture and reasoning coupled with my experience. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit alone, of my drinking. There was no reasoning or talk that would have been as effective or powerful as that tug on my heart by God. After many, many years of not drinking at all, and having matured spiritually, I started to struggle with whether I was being legalistic, not even having a rare drink when offered even though I knew biblically I was not denied having a drink. I was concerned it was now a matter of fearing the condemnation of others that kept me from drinking rather than my convictions. I did not want my reasoning for not drinking to come from a place of legalism. I worked through that and can confidently say that I don't drink because I established, God helping me, that it is not good for ME to do so. But that is me and how God has moved in my heart, far be it for me to place my experience on others. However, I think the questions listed above are worth reflecting on when making a decision.

On the way home from Delaware this morning I heard a message on the radio about signs and wonders and a true illustration was used that went something like this. People have asked "Pastor can you turn water into wine?" to which I reply "No but God helping me, I have done something even better than that" "A wife encouraged her alcoholic husband to come see me. Through that relationship I led him to Jesus, who released him from the chains of addiction and His whisky then turned into milk for his babies."

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