Point of View: I believe there's no place for use of alcohol for followers of Christ
Article Date: Aug 15, 2014
A recent article published in the Florida Baptist Witness detailed an account of the moderate use of alcoholic beverages among followers of Christ, including preachers. I take issue with the premise. My conviction is there is no place in the Christian growth and walk that includes the use of wine or any other alcoholic beverage. In fact, after 59 years of ministry, there is not one time I recall the positive value of alcohol use.
Some will immediately conclude:
► He doesn’t understand the difference between moderation and abuse. Here is the crux of the issue: You will never abuse if you do not use. All of the statistics can be quoted about alcohol abuse in America and the constant barrage of advertising in the media, etc. Statistics rarely change convictions or opinions, but they do fortify them.
► He is of the “old school.” Right. Or, “He wants to take us back to prohibition days.” Wrong! I would like to take us back to the Catacombs. The followers of Jesus Christ are always stronger and more effective when we disapprove of society, not when we “schmooze” the culture. It is my desire to be different or, as someone said, to be “odd for God.” If taking a stand on what I consider a moral issue casts me as an “old-fashioned teetotaler,” or that I am out of step with reality, or that I am making an issue out of a nonissue—OK, but I have been totally sober for 59 years. You see one of the things God saved me from is the use of alcoholic beverages.
► He doesn’t comprehend the “one drink” concept. I really don’t because it is indefensible. It may work for some but not all. Eventually euphoric recall will dilute or eradicate best intentions. Nancy and I recently made a trip to another city to visit and enrich a 40-year friendship. While at the evening meal he and his wife told us what they had just come through victoriously. My friend was sober for the first time in 10 years. It all started with social acceptance. What about the example principle—the influence on less mature believers, especially young people?
I realize some will justify by saying or thinking, “The Bible does not say, ‘Thou shalt not drink alcoholic beverages.’ ” Neither does it say, “Thou shall.” (If you want to read a good book on the difference of wine used in the Bible and 21st century wine off the shelf, read Peter Lumpkins’ Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence).
The world wants us to believe that the use of alcoholic beverages is a sign of liberation. That it is considered sophisticated and cool. When you have experienced and observed as much pain as many have, the sophistication, cool and liberating sense wears very thin.
It is not my responsibility to straighten you out on moral values. However, when I am pulled into the debate because of my stand on leadership in the Florida Baptist Convention, I must respond.
My final word—there is no soundness in the use or abuse of alcoholic beverages by followers of Jesus Christ.
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