...Is it a sin, a bad habit, or has the church been just plain legalistic?
But is drinking a sin? Does it damage a witness? Is all matters of drinking wrong whether it be beer, whiskey or wine? How should we address those that may drink socially outside in our church parking lots? Has the church at large been too legalistic in this area?
This was the subject that I and some friends were discussing this past week. Let me share with you a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this issue. A few 21+ year old young men and women (who are part of a local church) were found drinking in the parking lot of the church. A “greeter” from the church went to them and asked them to stop drinking or possibly leave the parking lot. Take this to a more broad picture of anyone drinking outside on church property (member or visitor) and how that would look “image wise” for any church.
What say you?
I realize that this is a relatively small issue with all that is going on in the world around us. But as you know, the devil is in the details and it is these little things that can divide Christian fellowship quicker than anything.
Here is a common concern of drinking to help swirl your thoughts:
Because drinking is often perceived as a sin (at worst) or a casual pastime (at best), should we be concerned with the impression that it might leave upon those who come to our church or who are new visitors to the church, if they were to see people drinking in the parking lot of our church? Or should it even matter?
Here are some initial thoughts in response to the above:
Is this 1957 we’re talking about here? Were they wearing leisure suits too? :-).
Can you imagine… some people actually drinking in the hallowed area of the parking lot of a church? Oh my… Did they shake or stir their drinks? Sounds like an immediate Matthew 18:15-20 situation to me. Can you imagine such a thing? Sinners, real life sinners that “bottom up” are in our church parking lot enjoying a “sippy” before or after the service. They’re definitely going to hell — no question about it — drinkers all end up there. No drinker could possibly be elect — no way. And if they profess to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, they’re definitely carnal,… backslidden at best.
Can you believe it, there are drinkers who even twist the words of praise songs to support their “evil practice” by singing: “I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my mug…” They just can’t be trusted; we should get rid of them all. You can almost imagine the headline on the church kiosk next week would say:
TAKE YOUR “KEGS” SOMEWHERE ELSE…
Time to Wake Up and Smell the Ministry
This is not an issue.
Drinking is not a sin (btw, I don’t drink beer). A famous radio preacher whose name escapes me at the moment really put this in perspective when he once humorously said, “Drinking is not a sin; but if you like swallowing watered down soured barely mash that’s your business.” :-).
Precisely! Scripture nowhere prohibits drinking anywhere; it is a preference issue at best. Does it smack of legalism to actually say things like: “is this the first impression you want to make on people coming to the church…” People that come to our churches come with serious problems and needs—and drinking in the parking lot is not one of them. Lots of Presbyterian theologians drank wine (so have I on occasion) – would it have been better if they were drinking a nice Merlot? How about scotch? Scotch is good too — it’s really smooth, especially on a cool autumn evening (I drink scotch on occasion, too). Football season is here and it’s a great time to bring your favorite cooler or scotch to a ball game and have at it.
I think here’s a great first impression to make on people coming to our churches:
that everyone would be warmly welcomed whether they are drinking or not in the parking lot and never asked to leave because a “greeter” sees someone enjoying a Michelob before or after the service.
BTW, that person in the parking lot who confronted the young people drinking should never be allowed to serve as a greeter. Honestly, what exactly is a “greeter” anyways? Nothing but a “spiritualized” version of a hotel doorman. Where does he get off making authoritative judgments as to what is appropriate or inappropriate standards of conduct for members on church property? The next thing he will start doing is telling those young people it is distasteful to smoke on church grounds. Put that man in charge of something really important like… straightening all the hymnals in the backs of the pews before the service begins :-). It will better serve the Lord and His people to keep him as far away from those coming to the church as possible—especially the visitors.