dear friend, as you know, your flowers are all withering, your mother’s gone missing, your leaves have drifted away

In the West Michigan culture of conservative Christianity, I have found that alcohol consumption seems to be  a “gray area” in terms of Christian freedoms that is rarely discussed within the church body. I know it is not a new topic, but I find it strange that it is often omitted from the pulpit.

Even within evangelical circles, I have noticed that a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has come to fruition. Meaning, while alcohol abstinence is often championed, it is not practiced by the entire body of believers. This is not hypocrisy, but rather a practice of individual Christian freedoms based upon personal conviction.

Scripture is abundantly clear that the abuse of alcohol is clearly sinful [Genesis 9:21-22; Leviticus 10:9; Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 31:4; Isaiah 5:11], yet the issue remains a “gray area” since a biblical understanding reveals that it is not necessarily sinful to partake [Genesis 14:18; Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 31:6; Luke 10:34; 1 Timothy 5:23]. This, I would argue, is where the age old question has arisen: is it right or wrong for a believer to consume an alcoholic beverage?

Sadly, often our skewed humanity argues in favor of one proposition or the other based solely on an argument formulated on an opinionated predisposition where Scripture is used in defense. Rather, we as believers should be studying the Word and seeking the Holy Spirit’s wisdom concerning the subject.

Furthermore, if we are seeking Truth on this matter, I would argue that the “age old question” of right or wrong is not necessarily the correct query to consider concerning consumption. Instead, we need to determine whether it is wise to exercise a particular Christian freedom. We can begin by acknowledging three questions during our study of the subject through the lens of the Word:

1. Will this choice strengthen my walk and relationship with the King, ultimately bringing Him glory?
[2 Timothy 1:9; Isaiah 6:1-8; 1 Peter 1:13-16; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:19; 10:31; Romans 14:23; Philippians 4:8; Galatians 5:22]

2. Will this choice encourage, strengthen, or add value to other believers?
[Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2,32; Colossians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24]

3. Will this choice lovingly draw unbelievers to Jesus Christ?
[Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 7:12-14; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:15-17; 1 Peter 3:15]

I share this with you as an introduction and invitation to a discussion on the topic of alcohol. Currently my Sunday school class of college students is addressing this matter. It, of course, has led to a tantalizing debate. Thus, it has intrigued me to bring it to the blogosphere to understand different perspectives concerning this subject.

3 thoughts on “dear friend, as you know, your flowers are all withering, your mother’s gone missing, your leaves have drifted away

  1. First of all, drinking beyond moderation is always wrong. But, sometimes on the surface what appears to be negative (e.g. causing prohibitionists to gasp when a Christian drinks a beer with a meal) can actually be positive. When it affords an opportunity to gently educate people about the dangers of legalism (which are even graver than alcohol abuse). Of course, situations vary and one must be Spirit-led in choices such as this.

    • Thanks for your input! I definitely understand where you are coming from. Legalism reminds us much of the Pharisaic law that turned so many away. In our class discussion, this point was raised…and the counter point was questioning whether that would be a loving act. On one hand, I would say it could be loving if done with a good attitude. On the other hand, could that “education” cause a brother to stumble by making an unwise choice subsequently? I am learning more and more that this isn’t an issue of whether it is right or wrong to drink, but about whether that a particular Christian liberty is practiced with situational discernment. But then my next question would be, if one has to be so discerning with such a liberty, is it worth even exercising it to begin with? Or would the more loving thing be to abstain…not because you think drinking is wrong, but there would be less opportunity to sin on your part…and less of an opportunity to cause someone to stumble?

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