Alcohol and the SBC (Part II)

Those opposed to the Baptist stance on alcohol are saying things like this: “Alcohol is a gift from God that should be enjoyed”, “Abstinence is legalism”, “This is not a Baptist issue, its a Bible issue”, “This isn’t about Christian liberty, its about the Sufficiency of Scripture”, “The SBC needs to repent from total abstinence from alcohol”, “Abstinence from alcohol is rejecting the Biblical example of Jesus”, “Drinking alcohol is not a sin”, “Enjoying the things created by God, such as alcohol, help us to enjoy God better”, “This issue is much bigger than alcohol”, “Alcohol can be used in such a way that cheers the heart and honors God”, “teaching abstinence needlessly draws a line in the sand on doctrines and traditions not essential for unity and for proclaiming the faith”.

Alcohol is a gift from God: Where in the world do they get this? Well 1 Timothy 4:4 says “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” This was in reference to foods when false teachers like some Gnostics required strict abstinence from certain things including marriage and food. While this verse does not refer to alcohol at all and while it does not call alcohol a gift from God, it does make it clear that everything created by God is good. Of course, it could be argued that alcohol or “strong drink” may not necessarily be one of those created things that are considered good. What do I mean by that? Well, humans have a way of not only abusing things, but we tend to take many of God’s “good” creations and mix them together to turn them into bad things. For example, you are not going to find many people who think that aluminum foil, charcoal lighter fluid, epson salts, gasoline, mineral spirits, batteries, table salt, coffee filters, towels, napkins, pots, pans, bowls, jars, sports drinking bottles, pressure cooker, stove top range, oven, microwave, grill, ice tea jars, drink dispensers, and gasoline cans with tubing are from the devil. In fact many of these are good, useful products that we use every single day. And yet these are all key ingredients and products used in the making of methamphetamine one of the most dangerous and addicting drugs on the street. Is methamphetamine a good gift created by God for his people? I think the answer is a definitive no! Trees are good. Man comes up with a way to take trees, make paper, print pictures and the next thing you know we have a porn magazine. Are porn magazines good gifts created by God for his people? Again the answer is no. We are good at screwing a lot of things up and so to say that modern day alcohol is simply a good gift from God is a stretch and a half if you ask me.

To require abstinence is legalism Ok, here is a shocker… I’m not going to disagree with this argument quite as strongly as some would suspect, cause I myself feel that to force total abstinence in the church is legalistic.  However, if it is the position of the church but not a forced requirement then I’m more on board.  Baptist churches should urge their members to oppose alcohol but really can’t force the issue. Many of those that oppose this abstinence of alcohol are looking at this as a pharisaical action of the church that is forcing un-biblical issues upon its people. I disagree completely with this. The Pharisees were guilty of creating their own laws and calling them biblical and enforcing these laws as if God himself was the author and creator of them, such as washing your hands before eating. If Baptist churches were to adopt an amendment that declared drinking alcohol in any moderation a sin and began to enforce it as law upon the people, I believe that would be legalism. But for the leadership of the church to say that we oppose alcohol and urge the church members to support legislation that curbs the use of it in our nation and to urge churches to educate people on the dangers of the use of alcohol because of the well known and proven facts of its destruction of both people and families is not at all legalism.

This is not a Baptist issue, its a Bible issue Of course its a Baptist issue. It’s been a Baptist issue for years and years and continues to be one. Yes it is that dreaded word, tradition. Why are those opposed trying to make this a Biblical issue? Because they believe that the Bible condones drinking alcohol and they believe that it is un-biblical and sinful for a group of people to oppose something that the Bible says is ok.  Is it wrong to oppose something simply because it is destructive? I don’t think it is.

The SBC needs to repent from total abstinence from alcohol Is abstaining from something a sin? Is declaring that as a group we oppose alcohol a sin? I’m not buying this one. I believe that it is a worthy goal to abstain from something that is destructive. Now some might say, “why don’t we have resolutions against eating and things of that nature?” Well, maybe because you haven’t brought one up yet. Honestly, do I think the SBC should have a resolution on gluttony? Yeah, I would vote for that. Should we talk about the dangers of certain foods and urge churches to battle obesity? Yes. Same principle, its to help curb the destructive forces of things that are hurting the people around us.

Abstinence from alcohol is rejecting the Biblical example of Jesus If we decided to abstain from alcohol then we are rejecting Christ’s example and not following in his footsteps by drinking wine. That is kind of like saying since I don’t like to eat fish or unleavened bread then I am rejecting Christ’s Biblical examples of eating fish and unleavened bread. Since I didn’t attempt to raise aunt Bertha from the dead then I am rejecting Christ’s Biblical example of raising people from the dead. When Christ drank wine, was he really doing so to give us an example and to tell us that we should go and do likewise or was he just thirsty? Maybe the disciples ran out of quarters or the coke got stuck in the soda machine so they just had to settle for wine. Or maybe that is all they had to drink. Was the wine mixed with water? Was it a pure hard drink? Is it even possible to know the answer to this question? No. If it is impossible to know exactly what this drink was then how can we truly say that our wine today is similar? The other question I have is what does this say about other alcohol that isn’t wine? The Bible doesn’t speak to all of the other types of alcohol and yet I’ve read several arguments that believe believers are Biblically sanctioned to drink any kind of alcohol. I’ve not seen the passage that says drink Bud Light in moderation.

Drinking alcohol is not a sin Agreed. Well, for the most part. I believe that drinking wine in moderation without other influences is not condemned in the Bible. However, drinking other alcoholic beverages is really an argument from silence. The other thing is, many times people drink for the wrong reasons, which I believe can also be sinful.

This issue is much bigger than alcohol I think this issue has become much bigger than its original intent. Now it seems to be something to fuss over, something to argue about, something else to use to bash the conservative leadership, and the people in the middle of it arguing are the same people who are saying that we are spending too much time arguing about it rather than reaching people for Jesus. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

“Alcohol is on TV, in Magazines, at Wal-Mart, at the ball park, and SBCer’s will have to abstain from all of these things if they are choosing to totally oppose alcohol.” Yet again, I don’t see how the fact that we can’t avoid alcohol because its in everything we do in America makes it ok then to support it instead. The limited ability of people to not buy, look at, touch, or even get near something that is influenced by alcohol is not a valid reason for the support of it.  I think if giving up my personal free choice to drink wine will help curb the abuse then there is no question about what I will do. Will abuse go away all together? No. But it could help.

Unfortunately the alcohol abusers in our churches today are not hearing anything other than this continued support for the drinking of alcohol. Sure, they may hear someone say now and then that the Bible says abuse of alcohol is a sin, but the thing they keep coming back to over and over again is “drinking is not a sin, drinking is not a sin”. People who are caught up in this stuff do not need to hear that it is ok for them to drink, they need people who are willing to stand with them in helping them abstain from the very thing destroying their lives. It’s kinda hard to help out your buddy who is an alcoholic when your chugging a beer.

I think in this case we should look back at a few things Paul had to say. He reminds us that we are free, but we shouldn’t use that freedom to indulge ourselves. And of course there is all that stuff he says about disputable matters too…

2 thoughts on “Alcohol and the SBC (Part II)

  1. I understand the thought behind this resolution and have differing feelings regarding it. Reading through some of the blogs you referenced, though, it seems the resolution is becoming as much of a stumbling block for some as the consumption of alcohol is for others.

    Regarding alcohol being a gift from God, what do you do with Psalm 104:14-15?

  2. That is the other reference to scripture that is often used. Many will say that alcohol gladdens the heart of man. But, could it be that Psalms is talking about God’s goodness in providing the daily provisions of man? Could it be that mans heart is gladdened because God provides for him all that he needs and that this is not necessarily a reference that is focused on wine itself, but the provision of needs from God? I think that using this verse to defend the drinking of alcohol is to miss the point of the verse in the first place. Those wishing to defend drinking will place the focus on wine and make it the main point, but the main point here is God and his provision. That is the same point made in Acts 14:17 that doesn’t mention the wine, but the food and gladness from God that satisfies the heart.

    It could be that wine is a culturally specific drink since there really wasn’t a wide variety in those days. And, if we are going to use that verse to defend the drinking of alcohol then really we need to be specific. It mentions wine, not any other type of alcohol. To defend alcohol in general and not just wine itself is going beyond the text, which is exactly what those who oppose this resolution are accusing the SBC of doing.

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