It is true that the Bible says nothing about alcohol consumption being a sin. Many Southern Baptist are still against the use of alcohol even though the use of it isn’t a sin. Many of those who oppose it do so because of its destructive nature, not because of what the Bible says about it. There are many Biblical warnings which are clear and indisputable references of alcohol. The truth is alcohol is dangerous, destructive, and it has a tendency to kill people, so most Southern Baptist are resolved in saying that we should oppose something that destroys human life rather than values it.
The Baptist opposition to alcohol is upsetting to some people. Is it the fact that we would openly oppose something that isn’t necessarily considered a sin in of itself? What is so bad about refraining from something that has the proven potential to destroy?
What’s next? Will we say that we are resolved to oppose smoking pot and making meth in our church basements and will a group of people stand up and say, “The Bible doesn’t say that smoking pot or making meth is a sin, so you are all a bunch of dumb legalists for making such a resolution.”
Another argument that I continue to hear is that people who oppose the consumption of alcoholic beverages must abstain from not only drinking alcohol, but from going to the ball park, going to wal-mart, or anything else that comes close to supporting or being supported by the alcohol industry. It seems to me that the assumption many people are making here is that to be opposed to something means that you can’t be around it and that you can’t be a part of things that may correlate with the said opposition. If you think about this logically then you will have to conclude that things that you cannot keep from being around are things that you cannot be opposed to which makes no sense. Alcohol is such a part of the American culture that it becomes impossible to avoid. It’s at Wal-Mart, its at the gas stations, the advertising is on billboards, and unless we live in a bubble, there is no way to escape the influence of alcohol on our society. Since it is impossible for us to not be exposed to such things, does that mean we should be accepting of them instead? Since there is no way to go to a Cardinals game without supporting Anheuser-Busch in some way, does that mean that I should no longer be opposed to Alcohol consumption if I want to go see a ball game? Is it really dumb for us to say we are totally opposed to the consumption of alcohol because it harms families and destroys lives? I don’t think it is. I’m opposed to pornography and yet every time I drive down I-44 I have to see pornography being advertised. If I am going to oppose pornography and the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and viewing of pornography does that mean I have to not drive down I-44 and does that mean that I have to avoid movies that may somehow support the porn industry and gas stations that sell it and any business or industry that might support it or get support from it in some way or another? And if there is no way to avoid it all together should I just shut up about it and not say that I am opposed to it? Should I instead be accepting of the pornography industry? We could even make the same argument for sin. Should Southern Baptists not be totally opposed to sin, since we cannot avoid it or abstain from it? I don’t think Southern Baptists are dumb because they oppose sin and yet live around it, in it, support it, and even do it sometimes. After-all, the opposite of opposing sin is accepting it.
All that to say this, I agree that the consumption of alcohol and its relation to the Bible is ambiguous and disputable. What is not disputable is the overwhelming evidence of what alcohol has done to families and people. The number of people killed every year in alcohol related deaths is astounding, and the number of abused children and women who are beaten because of alcohol is astronomical. My own family can be included in that assessment since I come from a long line of men who are alcohol abusers. I’ve seen first hand what alcohol can do. I know that it consumed my father, that it consumed his father, and that for generations of men in my family it has been a destructive force. I can honestly say that I am not going to consume alcohol and I believe that it is wise for me to refrain. Am I saying it is a sin? No. But I do wonder, is it not better for Southern Baptists to give up a freedom and abstain from alcohol rather than risking their own lives and the lives of others by drinking alcohol. It only takes one mistake to ruin a life forever.
We should actively do what is necessary to value human life and morality. To oppose drinking, for me, is the right thing to do. I am not saying that it is sinful, I am not saying that the Bible condemns it, but I am saying that it is unwise. Paul reminds us that all things are permissible but not beneficial. This is one of those things that is permissible, but is not really beneficial.
I could go on and on about this issue and I could probably give a thousand more reasons why drinking alcohol is unwise. I could go into the influence it has on teens, the reasons it is used by people, and the elements of temptations that it imposes on its Christian users. I could talk about its impairment and its general effect on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of the individual users. I could come up with story after story of lives that have been destroyed by alcohol abuse, but really none of that is the point. What concerns me is that I believe life is far more important than a simple beverage preference.