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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Can Christians Drink Alcohol and Still Be Faithful to Their Lord?

There are many things in life that are dangerous if not handled with caution. Electricity, cars, baseball and bike riding are all dangerous. Even God Himself is dangerous. You should behave accordingly when you are around danger. It is impossible to avoid all danger. Those who try to do so live lives of fear. They stop eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn, steak and hot dogs because people have been known to choke on these things. They refuse to board planes, trains and automobiles because people have been gravely injured while traveling in these modes of transportation. They may even stop going in their bathrooms or kitchens since so many accidents in the home occur in those rooms. Life cannot be lived this way with any freedom. It is unreasonable to avoid everything dangerous.

The danger that alcohol presents is not a sufficient reason to avoid it. It can be a pleasant experience if used with the same caution which accompany anything that is dangerous. You need to be aware of what alcohol is doing at all times. It must be used in moderation. A Christian can drink alcohol in certain circumstances with a good conscience.

However, there are times when the Christian should abstain from alcohol to remain at peace with God and others. He should not drink if his drinking will cause another to stumble in his faith. He should not drink if it is harmful to his testimony. In other words, he should not drink if it will dishonor others or God.

Let's suppose that you have a non-Christian neighbor who is exploring the Christian faith. He has come to listen to you about faith. He personally drinks even though he grew up with an alcoholic father. You must use discernment whether or not you would serve a glass of wine when you have him over for a meal. It could be that this will become a stumbling block for him to see the difference between what he already is, what he despises about his past and what you are leading him to become.

Discernment is unnecessary if you or others around you are alcoholics. You simply do not drink around them. You don't deny that you drink. You do not drink around them because you want to help them overcome their addiction. This would also be true in the home. Alcohol must be eliminated in the home of an alcoholic. You never drink again because you love the one who cannot drink.

Personally, I don't drink. I have another reason for not drinking. I don't drink because of my commitment to the Lord. I was in my apartment in 1975 all by myself when the Lord made a visit to me. I repented of my sins and made a commitment that I would never go as far away from Him as I had before that night. He forgave me and told me in no uncertain words that I must pour out all my alcohol. I wasn't to drink again. I poured it out and have not had another alcoholic drink since then. I don't drink as a commitment to my Lord. I believe that this commitment applies to me. I don't think that it should apply to everyone. I do think the Lord has told the same thing to others.

Does this mean that a church deacon can go to a bar and drink with his buddies as long as he doesn't get drunk? No, I don't think so. Bars have a good number of non-Christians. They laugh behind the backs of Christians who say they are different but live exactly as they do. They are looking for someone who will accept them with their faults but who doesn't have their faults. They are seeking someone who has standards of conduct that they can admire. They are not seeking those who are better than them in practice but who live lives that doesn't look down on anyone. They think that church services condemn the lost. They think that these deacons go to church and act "high and mighty" when they are really no different from the lost.

Let's face it. Alcohol is very dangerous. You should use it sparingly and judiciously if you choose to use it at all. Yes, you can still be faithful to your Lord and drink but not in all places and at all times. You can't be faithful if He has led you to stop. You can't be faithful if you are inconsiderate of those around you.

I would use this rule as a litmus test for drinking. Drinking can be honoring of the Lord and others if you can truly pray while drinking, if you can bring up prayer (as in a blessing before a meal) and if you can honestly commune with your Lord while drinking. Otherwise, I wouldn't do it.

Proverbs 23:29-35 (NIV)
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?"

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