Sipping Saints | & “So, is drinking ok?”
I haven’t been reading my Relevant Magazine lately so I put the last few issues in the bathroom. Now I will read Relevant during those holy moments instead my wife’s Elle or Marrie Claire / whatever girly crap is on the shelf. A good move I know! Today I picked up the November | December issue, the one with Jon Foreman on the cover and decided to read a little article that sparked my attention, So is Drinking Ok? By Jayson Boyett. Some of you know where I’ve landed on this issue and the issues it’s stirred for me so let’s talk.
Jason writes an article that is pretty well written and gives a fair assessment of both side of the issue. Of course in an article that is probably 1000 - 1500 words long one can’t really get into the nuances of the issue and really state a good case for either side but he does do a good job of making a couple points and leaving room for the discussion to continue. Personally I wish there were more answers give rather than questions raised but with such a touchy topic among many conservative Christians i can understand why Boyett opted not to make any definitive statements on either side of the issue. (found the digital issue of Boyett's article, check it out!)
For me… I opted to have wine at my wedding nearly 2 years ago and learned first hand how big of an issue it can be for many people. That’s a LONG sad story for another day.
My deal is this… we (i) want to be people of the book (the Bible is the book I’m referring to, not sure where the Mormons stand on this issue). Especially those who seem to have such a huge issue with drinking, many even calling it “Sin” are the very people who are wanting to be the most biblically conservative / biblical literalists.
BUT the bible is clear, drinking IS NOT a sin. Getting drunk is. At least that’s literally what the text says. I could go into the whole issue of fermentation but it’s kinda a bogus issue for those who argue it, at least it is in my opinion. Boyett also deals with this in his article. But the bible clearly talks about the issue of drunkenness, because it was an issue. If wine wasn’t alcoholic then why would getting drunk be such an issue? It wouldn’t be. Therefore we can conclude that wine was wine. And Jesus even gave out the good stuff at weddings he went to.
On the “no drinking” side there are two kinds of folks. #1. Those who don’t drink for social reasons. They make it into an issue of social justice and want to stand along side of those who struggle with the abuse of alcohol. I respect this stance, I agree with it’s heart, because i too don’t want to do anything that would make anyone stumble; drinking, eating, acting ect. . My problem with this stance is, despite the fact I respect it, we say this with alcohol but we don’t take this stance with other things like eating / obesity, we don’t’ worry about it when it comes to gossip, and we don’t even think about it when it comes to over spending / consumerism. These are all issues in our culture and it seems to me we should stand along side of people who struggle with all of these issues. And I’m not sure abstinence is always the best answer.
#2. The other people who take this stance are the Pharisees. And yes I’m speaking of modern times and people who live and lead in our churches today. And trust me, they exist and I have had to deal with them! These are people who want more rules and who measure their holiness by following the law (rules) rather than following Jesus. This is a sad group of folks because somewhere in their hearts and minds they are wanting to follows Jesus and live out the words we are given in the scripture but they read right over the story of their predecessors, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the people who Jesus was the hardest on. But in my opinion there is no room for this. The bible is pretty clear about that!
Where I’m at…
I have run into some of these Pharisees and here is my question, how do you love and forgive them when they hang you on a cross? I don’t claim to have been hung on a cross, that’s a little dramatic but these are the people that hung Jesus on a cross and when they “hang you out to dry” or simply are jerks to you how do you love them, how do you forgive them, how to you act like Jesus in these circumstances. This is a hard question because how do you forgive someone who doesn’t think they need forgiveness, someone who even thinks they are spiritually superior to most.
I have had some of these people call and apologize to me for our interaction and others that I, two year later, am still trying to figure out how to forgive and even go beyond that and be reconciled with.
The Bottom Line…
I think we are scared to be lead by the Spirit so we want to be lead by the law, by rules of men. Derek Webb has a couple songs that are extremely fitting for this conversation; New Law from the album Mockingbird and The Spirit vs. Kick Drum on his most recent album Stockholm Syndrome.
We are scared of what will happen if we trust the Spirit of God to lead us. And my confession is that I am not innocent of this. I scared to be led by the Spirit because the life of the Spirit is hard and it is not as neat and tidy as the life lived under a set of rules. But what the bible tells us is that we were never created to live under the law and even more so, we were never able to live by the letter of the law. And it’s not going to make it easier to just add some new rules.
It’s not easy to follow the Spirit either but it is possible, and the reason it’s possible is because the very Spirit that we follow fills us and enables us to do so. We are able to live the life of Jesus, which is a life of holiness because He has given us his Spirit.
Some things that interest me…
My buddy Todd gave me a book called sipping saints. He gave me this book to get a little insight into the mind of those who think drinking is a sin. The book was written in the 70’s I think and it’s all about the evils of alcohol. It’s not meant to be a humorous read but lets be real, “Sipping Saints” — hilarious! I plan on skimming through it.
God and Guinness :: A biography of the Beer that Changed the World. LOVE IT! I can’t wait to read this book. I don’t really like beer but I am pretty stoked to read this book. It shares some of the history of the Guinness brewing beer family and how they established a Christian culture in their business and family. “In the late 1700’s, Christians like Arthur Guinness—as well as monks and even evangelical churches—brewed beer…” Can’t wait to read about it. It doesn’t hurt that the author Stephen Mansfield goes to my church and a really good friend of mine, Micah Kandros designed the cover. Should be good!
Well this is a controversial topic, let’s talk about it! And let’s be Christians while we do!
Grace and peace Erik