Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why the church needs to talk about alcohol

Guest post by John Poitevent

Among non-essential issues of our faith, alcohol is one with perhaps the most diversely held beliefs... and judgements. In the Bible Belt, these beliefs don't just remain confined to the church, they often become laws as well. For example, the county where my parents live in Texas, with a population of over 200,000, has historically been "dry". Technically, it's considered "damp". What this means is that alcohol sales, while not prohibited, are highly regulated. Adult beverages can be purchased at a restaurant or bar but only if you join their "private club" which usually costs a dollar. However, you cannot purchase closed containers of alcohol from a store to take home with you. Recently, the 70 year old law was overthrown, but only for beer or wine. In order to purchase hard liquor, you still must drive half an hour to a "wet" county, where not surprisingly the border is lined with liquor stores. 

If all of this sounds incredibly ridiculous, it's because it is. Legalism always produces absurd scenarios with counter-productive outcomes. The tragic irony of this particular issue is that over the past five years, completely dry counties in Texas have had more than three times the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities per capita than completely wet counties.

So what does a healthy, biblical, gospel declaring, God glorifying view of alcohol look like?  David Valentine, co-founder of has some helpful thoughts on the subject.
"I drink beer. Let me be more precise: I love beer. I think the quote "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," is onto something.
While I love my choice libations, I am disturbed by the Church's lack of commentary on drinking. Alcohol, like food, is a good gift from God. 
Did you catch that? Alcohol is a good gift from God, to be enjoyed appropriately. 
Unfortunately, the Church has one of two damaging responses to alcohol: Either we say it's devil's brew or we are mute on the subject."
He goes on to say,
"The Church needs to talk about alcohol because how we handle it often reflects how we understand God. If we never touch alcohol because “it's evil,” then our view of God is as a mere man who tells us not to do things. He's not looking out for our joy or pleasure, but rather making sure we do what He says.
If we are on the other extreme and drunkenness is a state we commonly find ourselves in, then we abuse creation. It's very evident that the individual who gets drunk without repentance believes their pleasure is of highest value. This leads to the ever-present idol of self. And when we worship ourselves, we abuse all other forms of creation." 
Read the whole article.

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