Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sipping “Christians”

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Proverbs 20:1

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about "Christians" partaking in "adult beverages" as they have been referred to lately. Not every one who names the name of Christ is one of his, that's for certain but for a Christian to be partaking of wine and other strong drinks is wrong and I truly question their relationship with Christ. I know, there is that old argument that Jesus and his disciples drank wine and that he even made water into wine which was his first miracle but it was also commented by the governor of the feast, "And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now." John 2:10 That's because it was the new wine which was hardly fermented. Paul said the following in Ephesians 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit". Wine was the principle beverage then and even children drank it but that was because it was not as potent as now. But, I'm not an expert on that so I suppose one could argue on the technical aspects of wine.

There is also another problem with wine, whiskey, and other strong beverages" they are the appearance of evil. While the church seems to be slipping ever so much more into decay, the average sinner on the street will still tell you that it is really wrong to partake of a beverage of this type. While they still do it, they know it is really not pleasing to God. They look to the church as a light but, once again, the light in general is getting dimmer. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Only a backslidden or carnal Christian by name only will really defend this.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. Proverbs 31:4-7

It was advised for kings not to drink strong drink, so much the more for Christians who are to be filled with the spirit. Another reason is that the traditional church, that is the Bible believing church, has never embraced social drinking until the past few years when Hollywood stars suddenly became Christians and yet never came out of that filth they were in. It's time we get back to the Bible and the things that bring the church forward instead of constantly making excuses for the things we now allow. Christ will not take part with the devil and we can't be part Christ's and part Satan's. "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." Matthew 12:33 May we that are truly Christians strive to bring forth good fruits. May the Lord bless you as you follow Him.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Pastor Purdy:

I want to respond to this blog post not because I necessarily want to change your mind (though I'd be glad if you did) but because I would like to convince you that there are Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, true-blue Christians who believe that God has not forbidden moderate consumption of alcohol.

The Bible clearly prohibits getting drunk; I'm not aware of any Christians who disagree with that statement. As for the verses you quoted I believe they are all concerned with the abuse of alcohol, not its moderate use. The statement "wine is a mocker" is the same sort of statement as "knowledge puffs up" in the New Testament. Of course we don't believe everyone with knowledge is arrogant. The verse is saying that knowledge has the potential to make someone arrogant. The same goes for wine. It will mock the one who is deceived by it. And note the language: "mocker" and "raging." Both sound like words used to describe someone who is drunk. Being "deceived" by wine and strong drink sounds like a euphemism for being drunk.

There are, in fact, positive references to alcohol in the Bible. God has given wine to make men's hearts glad (Psalm 104:14-15). Melchizedek gives wine to Abraham. Wine is a part of various OT sacrifices. We should drink wine with a merry heart (Eccl. 9:7). There are others: Is. 55:1, Amos 9:13-15, Is. 25:6-9.

It is furthermore pretty clear that Jesus himself drank wine. In Luke 7:33-35 Jesus contrasts himself with John the Baptist, who ate no bread and drank no wine. In Luke 1:15 John is prohibited from drinking wine and strong drink. (Even if you want to argue that wine is not alcoholic I'd say it's pretty clear that "strong drink" is alcoholic. And if God's people were not permitted to drink alcohol then why would there need to be a special prohibition made for John?) Jesus contrasts himself with John by saying that his enemies call him a drunkard. There's a clear parallelism here. John did not drink alcohol but Jesus did. Besides, how could Jesus' enemies call him a drunkard if he never drank alcohol?

I think your concern about alcohol being the appearance of evil is misguided. The only people who think moderate consumption of alcohol is a morally questionable practice are those who have been taught that it is. Here's the kicker: consumption of alcohol has only been an issue among Christians in the past couple of centuries, particularly here in America, because of the prohibitionist movement. Talk to a Christian in the ancient or medieval world and they wouldn't understand your concerns. Your argument about alcohol being the appearance of evil only makes sense to you because we are in a culture that has a history of being uncomfortable with alcohol. If you were born in Ireland or Italy or France you wouldn't be asking these questions. And we are not permitted to bind the consciences of God's people just because we are the descendents of sincere, well-meaning, but misguided prohibitionists.

Alcoholic wine has always been used in the Lord's Supper throughout church history. Martin Luther, who rediscovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone, was a lover of beer. John Wesley, to whom your own tradition owes so much, is known to have drank wine and beer. (Later Methodists repudiated his example and became prohibitionists.) With all due respect, you're quite wrong that the traditional, Bible-believing church has rejected alcohol. It's quite the opposite.

As I said, I'm not trying to turn you into a drinker. I am troubled, however, by your condemnation of Christians who disagree with you on this issue. Believe me, I know many devout Christians who love Jesus every bit as much as you do, who pray, go to church, read and believe the Bible, and still do not believe there is any sin is drinking a beer or having a glass of wine. But we don't even have to get into that kind of argument. I think the Biblical argument is strongly on my side. At the least I'd for you to acknowledge that there is a possibility that fellow Christians can disagree about this and not condemn each other as false Christians.