Strong Drink is Raging

I read about this tragedy when the story first broke.  I saw the follow-up post this morning, Ambivalence about Alcohol.  I truly appreciated the writer’s larger paragraph in which he wrote,

Unless you’ve counseled a worn-out wife about her husband’s alcoholism, unless you’ve comforted a teen whose parents have both been heavy drinkers for as long as he can remember, unless you’ve discipled a new believer trying to throw off his addiction before he loses custody of his child, unless you’ve wept with a woman who has tried and failed to get sober for the better part of two decades, and most of all, unless you’ve looked into the dull eyes of a husband who just an hour ago lost the mother of his two young children to a drunk driver—unless you have some real life experience with the dangers of alcohol—I don’t want to hear about your liberty to drink. I certainly don’t want to hear you encouraging others to drink. It’s time to grow up in your discernment and compassion and to be a warner rather than a tempter.

Truer words could not be spoken. I can’t tell you how galled I become with young Reformers and their insistence that wine and beer drinking is the end all of their walk with Jesus.  Or to borrow more trendy Christianeze, “faith journey.”

Last fall I was tangled up with a group of young Reformed libertines over the subject of alcohol and how they have made drinking an idol of their liberty. They didn’t like what our pastor wrote on the subject, particularly “pastor-teacher” Steve Camp.

Yet it is agonizing stories like the one above that puts all their chest thumping against “fundamentalists” about drinking beer and whiskey in a more sobering light. People may complain that the author is exploiting an “emotional” situation by writing that these liberty drinkers have never counseled an abused wife or a person who has lost a loved one to a drunk driver, and perhaps there is a twinge of emotion with his post, but overall, he is right.

You’ll notice that the author said nothing about total abstinence from drinking. He’s not a teetotaler.  He is, however, hitting at the broader consequences of drinking in our American culture, and the facts of the matter are quite plain: the young Reformed pastors who lift high their liberty to drink on their blogs, in their small discussion groups that meet in taverns, who have impressive imported Scotch bottle collections, are inexperienced when it comes to counseling people through the destruction alcohol can reap upon their lives.

Sadly, a lot of them don’t get this. We’re not even twenty comments deep under that post when a person made the asinine comparison that over eating and obesity is just a severe a problem as drinking.

I agree with the contents of this post. However, it continues to baffle me that so many can preach against alcohol and drugs (and rightfully so!) but continue to ignore America’s #1 killer and addiction! Obesity and food addictions that result in heart disease and other illnesses are the MOST prevalent in America today and they are almost completely overlooked by Christians. The Bible speaks on the sin of gluttony. However you will see, time and time again, a morbidly obese preacher speaking on drugs and alcohol stating that they body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit and we contaminate it when we use them. Meanwhile, as soon as the sermon is over, everyone heads to the all you can eat buffet. In this area, I find Christians to be the MOST hypocritical.

Hypocritical indeed.  This is one of the top four lame arguments the liberty drinkers make when they defend their vice.  The reality is that no obese person who heads to that pizza buffet after church doesn’t then get into his or her car and under the influence of pepperoni, black olives, and cheese, kills a family driving home.  There’s just no comparison.

The author’s admonition is to the point: grow-up, get some discernment and compassion and stop being a tempter with your so-called liberty.  Because if you as either a Christian or worse, a pastor, actively promote alcohol consumption among young men as your badge of liberty, you are not only acting irresponsibly, but utterly foolishly.

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7 thoughts on “Strong Drink is Raging

  1. I am blessed that, by God’s grace alone, I have not tasted alcoholic drinks. However, I well remember my first acquaintance with the smell. I was doing volunteer work at an emergency room on Saturday nights, and many of the patients were people who had been drinking and then getting into knife fights. Maybe more young people need to see that side of things before they see the “glamor” portrayed on advertisements.

  2. I couldn’t agree more, I mean what drug has wreaked more destruction? The car accidents, loss of life, marriage breakdown, domestic abuse, the list just goes on and on. Another scourge is that of dope smoking and I don’t know the prevalence of that among ‘Christians’ but I suspect its out there. In my experience people who are free with these substances tend to be apathetic and that in itself is of course a major problem.

  3. I stated this in the comments of the article your siting & I’ll reiterate it again here. With all due respect, this article seems to be a violation of Romans 14. As the comments on that blog clearly argue, it has become apparent that those who choose to abstain view their position & their practice as superior to that of those who choose to partake, i.e. the author (as complimented in your last paragraph) believes he has more discernment, more compassion, more maturity, and more experience by virtue of his position to abstain from alcohol.

    This article seems far too reactionary for my taste. And it is troublesome that so many would applaud this rant as a good thing. After the Aurora shooting, we saw many political liberals arguing against the right or liberty or freedom to own a gun. In response, those of us who believe it is our right to own a gun argued that the tragedy of the shooting cannot & should not be used as grounds for the stripping of or arguing against our right to own a gun. As it pertains to that right, the tragedy was irrelevant. For the record, I do not own a gun. In practice, I currently “abstain.” But I will defend the right or liberty nonetheless. I was accused of being insensitive by liberals because it was “inappropriate” to defend the liberty in the face of tragedy, while lives had viciously been taken. In fact, I was accused of contributing to the murders by virtue of my position. This rant reminded me of some of the very same accusations. Some of the same questions that “alcohol abstainers” have asked were also asked of me on the gun issue. I had a professing Christian ask me questions (similar to these abstainer questions), like “Are you motivated by the glory of God? Is it helpful for you and others? Does it have a high probability of being destructive to you or others in a negative way? Will it build up or tear down you and others?” After I responded, one believer point blank asked me why I was willing to put innocent children & citizens in danger. These questions weren’t meant to remind me of a Biblical position on the subject. They were loaded questions that assumed I was ignorant or dismissive of my responsibility as a believer. They were intended to prove that in defending a right, I was in violation of the principle that each question sought to reinforce. In effect, he imposed a type of judgment upon others so as to impose guilt for defending a given position. Specifically, these were meant to passively express his spite toward me for not agreeing with him. For these individuals actually believe that others cannot answer all of the questions correctly and still continue doing what they were doing.

    But now I see this same line reasoning being used here. We have theological conservatives using the logic of political liberals to attack those who defend certain liberties. Like these liberals, we have used a tragedy as a platform to attack those who believe in moderation. This driver wasn’t practicing moderation, just as the aurora shooter wasn’t merely practicing his right to bear arms. Both were abusing a right, a liberty, a privilege. Then, after abusing the right, the driver further violated the law. This tragedy is the result of the sin drunkenness. To take this as an opportunity to rant against a specific liberty is no different than those who used the Aurora shooting to challenge the right to own a gun. Biblical/lawful understanding of our rights is not the issue here. If you want to rant against drunkenness, by all means, do so. I will echo the condemnation. Drunkenness is sinful & condemned by our holy God. But to attack all who embrace a liberty APART from sin is to cross the line… and experience has little to do with the matter. He basically attempted to silence all opposition because he deems his experience as more relevant.

    On another note, does this author even know what the word “ambivalence” means? – 1) uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things. 2) In Psychology – the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

    Who’s the target audience of this article? His title would imply that it is those who are unsure of their position on the matter. Is it really appropriate to “go off” on our brothers who are trying to weigh both positions? But then he specifically states “I don’t want to hear about your liberty to drink. ” His target audience seems to include all who defend moderation, without exception or clarification. We should all just shut up, because he doesn’t want to hear it. He is addressing the one who defends this specific liberty, not just the partaker; not just the uninformed or conflicted. In effect, he is “ranting” against anyone who is not an abstainer. And of this target audience he makes the assumption that they are “encouraging others to drink.” And he says to them “It’s time to grow up in your discernment and compassion and to be a warner rather than a tempter.” His logic is basically, if you’re not an abstainer, you’re encouraging people to drink; you lack discernment; you lack maturity; you lack compassion; and you are a tempter… oh, and if you don’t share my level of experience then you’re simply not qualified to speak on the matter… I know others may interpret the article differently. But that’s the way it reads to me. So not only is the author saying that his position is superior to those who partake; not only is he saying his position is superior to those who perhaps defend moderation while they themselves personally abstain; he’s also saying that if you have mixed emotions or conflicting thoughts on the subject, then your position is inferior to his. And you echoed this arrogance, this air of spiritual superiority in a previous article when applauded John MacArthur by saying “‘John may say that using beverage alcohol is not a sin, but his message is that if you want to be a wise, mature, spiritual, and fruitful Christian you won’t.’ And I happen to agree with that sentiment.” If you choose to abstain as a matter of conscience, I applaud you. There is no command to drink and the neither the one who drinks nor the one who abstains is more glorifying to the Lord than the other. But you & the author of this article do your entire line of reasoning a disservice with the intellectual dishonesty & this contempt for your fellow Christians.

    Romans 14 addresses this attitude of contempt when it says “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

  4. JAG,
    I appreciate the passion and animation to compose a long post.

    However, if you followed my three posts I wrote up on Christians and Alcohol at my previous blog, you will recall that I made it specifically clear that I am not a teetotaleer, I pretty much agree with you about Romans 14 and 15.

    However, you seem to miss the larger point at what I was saying and what this other fellow was saying. The one issue the young reformed, and often times formerly fundamentalist Baptist, fellas tend to camp out on is their new found freedom to drink beer and other sundry distilled spirits which they previously considered sinful in their “fundamentalist Baptist” past. Now that they have been reborn as new Reformers, they make drinking a mark of true spirituality. You can’t deny this. You merely need to read their blogs over a period of time to see what I mean. Yet rather than being this wonderful mark of genuine Christianity, it is a sign of immature, puerile spirituality. Their insensitivity to the danger alcohol brings to our overall culture as this other blogger notes is proof of their disastrous childishness. That is our larger concern. Any punk 31 year-old associate pastor who leads a men’s theology club once a week at a pub, or prattles on about how Luther drank beer, and how obesity is a greater health risk than drinking, really has no business telling me how free I am in Jesus to drink imported beer until he fully understands the consequences drinking brings to Christian lives, like the death of a child at the hands of a drunk driver.

    And just one, unrelated comment about drinking in Europe. They are always held up as this society where “they have no hang ups in the church with drinking.” Well, actually they do. I just had an acquaintance of mine return for an extend stay with in-laws in a rather free society over in Europe where wine and drink are freely partook in by even teenagers. His word, and I realize this is purely anecdotal, is that alcoholism is slowly devastating their society. Everyone is always “tipsy” and they’re entire way of life is to live for the weekends, just like here in the US.

    So yes, do we have liberty to drink? Of course. The issue is drunkedness, not the wine. People are at fault, not the wine. I get that. But as believers we need to also get the fact that alcohol is has some significantly bad effects on people that bring tremendous consequences that kill people and ruin lives. Christians can’t dismiss those items because of Romans 14 and a pastor who advocates such liberty needs to know the impact his role model will be for his congregation.

  5. So, all things considered, would you say that a man who chooses to drink responsibly, does not trumpet this as THE badge of being truly liberated nor insinuate that being a total abstainer is wrong, and stands against alcohol abuse is equal to a total abstainer? Because that is the real test. Or, as I like to say a little more cheekily, are you saying that my mother should not have a glass of red wine with her Sunday lunch?

    The problem has tended to be one of polarization and reaction; the teetotal types denouncing the moderate drinkers, and people from a legalistic background trumpeting liberty without thinking that liberty goes both ways, there is liberty to partake and liberty to abstain. There is however no liberty to sin, and what concerns me is that there are those on both sides of this issue who are immature and casually damn those who disagree with them, or at the least act as if they are superior. No, my mother is not superior to the godly Methodist lady down the road who would not touch a drop of wine because she has a glass at Sunday lunch, and the Methodist lady is not superior because she does not. Neither is sinning, and both are using their liberty as they see fit.

    As for ‘Europe’, it’s a continent, not a country, and contains many cultures. Scandinavians and English people are very different from Italians and French, and indeed Northern Italians are different from Southern Italians. Thus when the English government tried to introduce longer drinking hours in the hope that it would lead to English people drinking like the French, it did nothing of the sort, because the English are not the French. Europe is not one society at all. Funnily enough my annoyance on this matter has nothing to do with drink, but how would you US citizens like it if people lumped you together with the Canadians and the Mexicans and treated you as one culture? It’s the same as those who treat Africa as if it were one country and not a hugely diverse continent. Germans, French, Spanish, Dutch, English, Scots and Welsh are all different cultures!

  6. You pretty much ruined yourself when you discussed Europe. Having done much of my formal studies there, you’ve lost credibility. What you know of second hand is simply incorrect. Gervase has already addressed the weakness of that argument.

    But beyond that, the lumping of all things as “young, reformed, former fundamentalists” is intellectually dishonest. Many of us are still fundamentalists but do NOT embrace the term “reformed.” And your condemnation of those who embrace their liberty is no less a violation of Romans 14 & Colossians 2 than is the author of the article you cite. There are plenty of comments on his post that I won’t rehash here. While it is true that there are those who despise & judge those with whom they disagree representing both sides, their presence does not justify your condemnation. Chris was simply reactionary, labeling all those who disagree with him as merely ambivalent, immature, tempters who lack discernment & compassion. If you refuse to see the Scriptural violation there, then that’s a problem. We should be able to partake or abstain without implying that the other party is spiritually in error. We should be able to have this conversation apart from such ad hominem attacks.

  7. What you know of second hand is simply incorrect.

    So are you saying the folks I know, who not only have formally studied there, but have actually lived there for many years (and are living there) are lying to me? Certainly I agree with Gervase in that I realize that Europe is not a one size fit all society. The young, foolish, and Reformed kids who flaunt their liberty to drink typically appeal to how European citizens start drinking when they are 12 or whatever, and none of them have problems with alcohol. That is just patently false, as I was citing my friends who do have first hand experience with dealing with heavy alcoholism in their society where they live.

    Again, you are over-reacting to what I wrote. I am pretty much on the same page as you. I am not condemning those who drink in moderation. My problem is with the tendency – again – among the neo-fundy, Reformed folks who promote beer and wine drinking as the ultimate experience a Christian can have with being out-of-touch with the consequences of their license. You may not like what Chris has written, but his evaluation is for the most part right on. Those liberated freedom drinkers from former hardcore IFB-SBC backgrounds do behave themselves with insensitivity regarding drinking, especially the severe consequences alcohol has.

    Another anecdotal story you can take or leave is a pastor friend of mine in FL who knows the Reformed Student Ministry on the college campus of their hometown has allowed underage drinking at their functions. Now hopefully, you would disagree with allowing such a situation from happening, but it has. The excuse these underage drinkers come back to is the promotion of our Christian liberty to drink in moderation.

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