To Drink or Not to Drink?

By John Caldwell

I decided many years ago totally to abstain from alcohol, and it is my opinion that all Christians would do well to make the same decision. I believe this issue is important because it relates to a broader, and thus even more significant subject—that of the modern church’s ongoing move toward becoming more and more like the world.

 

My Bias

In the interest of full disclosure, I am biased. I hate alcohol—not the taste (although to be honest, I hate that too), but what it does to people. The first funeral of a teenager that I conducted was of a young man killed by a drunk driver. I’ve had literally hundreds of counseling sessions with couples and spouses as their marriages teetered on the brink because of alcohol. I can’t count the hours I’ve spent in jails and prisons visiting inmates whose lives have been forever negatively impacted because of crimes they committed while under the influence. Even more hours have been spent in emergency rooms, trauma units, and at hospital bedsides, while ministering to victims of alcohol.

The horror stories I could tell could fill a book: the teenaged girl losing her virginity while drinking, the college student brain damaged after a fraternity initiation, the young minister involved in a terrible wreck after having just a couple of beers to relax, and scores of others.

Let me be blunt! I see absolutely no positive argument for something that will make you act like an idiot, smell like a brewery, fight like a fool, impair your motor functions, drain your bank account, give you a hangover, scare your kids, alienate your spouse, make you a danger to your fellow man, and has the potential to enslave you.

I wish I could tell you that all I know about this is from the vantage point of a pastor. Regrettably, I must admit that during my prodigal days drinking was very much a part of my social life, and for the same reason most people start drinking—peer pressure. I wanted to fit in.

I can also tell you the time I decided to quit. It was early one morning when I woke up in the middle of a street in front of a frat house across from the Southwest Missouri State University campus. I decided right there and then that drinking could get you killed. I was right.

 

The Bible’s Counsel

Before we go any further let me state the obvious. I know that Jesus miraculously created wine as his first public miracle in Cana, and that a person could have consumed enough to get drunk. Yes, Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine for medicinal purposes. It is true that the Bible nowhere forbids the drinking of alcohol, only its abuse to the point of drunkenness. Paul said, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life” (Ephesians 5:18*). It is also true that many people, including many Christians, drink only in moderation; a glass of wine with their dinner or a cold beer on a hot day. And I’m not suggesting that such will make you descend into the gutter.

But let’s consider the whole counsel of God concerning the use of alcohol. Proverbs 23:29, 30 says: “Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks.”

There are six consequences listed in verse 29, all in the form of a rhetorical question, the first of which is, “Who has anguish?” The Hebrew word for anguish is an expression of despair and impending doom. It is no coincidence that 40 percent of suicide attempts are alcohol related. The wise man goes on to ask the source of sorrow, fighting, complaints, unnecessary bruises, bloodshot eyes; and makes it clear that the source is overindulgence of alcohol.

Most people in the ancient world drank alcohol. The Egyptians and Babylonians were manufacturing beer 3,000 years before Christ. But here’s something you need to know. Alcohol use changed radically in AD 700 when Arab chemists discovered how to distill alcohol, which led to the ability to produce highly potent concentrations. Thus the wine and beer produced previous to that was, for the most part, very low in alcoholic content. You could get drunk, but you had to drink a lot to do so.

However, today, if you buy a bottle of whiskey, liquor, or even wine, the natural fermentation is bolstered by the addition of distilled alcohol. New wine in biblical days had very little alcoholic content, and even aged wine had a low amount compared to today’s standards. Don’t take my word for it. You can easily research it using the Internet.

So-called “adult beverages” are very much a part of American social life. However, the advertising industry doesn’t sell intoxication, but fantasy; it doesn’t sell reality, but fiction. Ads for alcoholic beverages tout happiness, wealth, prestige, sophistication, success, maturity, athletic ability, virility, creativity, and sexual satisfaction—but these are the very things alcohol abuse destroys. Proverbs 23:31, 32 says, “Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.”

I haven’t even mentioned that millions of Americans are in bondage to alcohol because of their addiction to it. But listen to the closing verses of Proverbs 23: “You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, ‘They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?’” (vv. 33-35).

 

A Simple Question, A Larger Concern

Let me ask a simple question: Why should you drink? If you never take the first drink, you’ll never become addicted. If you don’t drink, even if you could handle it, you won’t be a stumbling block to those who can’t handle it (and I believe Paul said something about not causing your brother to stumble). And if you don’t drink, you won’t be supporting an industry that has caused untold heartache for millions of people.

Try a little experiment. Carefully read a city newspaper for the next seven days. Make note of all the stories of tragedy and heartache that somehow involve alcohol. Then, against that backdrop, try to defend its use. A quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln is, “Alcohol has many defenders, but no defense.”

At the beginning of this article I suggested that this topic is representative of the broader subject of the church becoming more and more conformed to the world. I have a number of preacher friends who are social drinkers. I know of several churches that have changed their policy manuals to allow for social drinking. I’ve even heard it defended as a tool for evangelism (I wish I had the space to deal with that one).

But let’s be honest. Is it not simply an attempt to fit in with the world? What happened to “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking . . . ”? (Romans 12:2, The Message).

America’s No. 1 problem drug is not an illegal drug like cocaine, marijuana, meth, or heroine, as big a problem as they are. The No. 1 problem drug is a lethal one—alcohol. It causes more deaths and more addiction than any other drug. More than 55 percent of highway deaths are alcohol related. There are more than 17 million alcoholics in America, and that number is rising. And it is impossible to quantify the death, disability, psychosis, and relational harm done by alcohol.

No, the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not drink,” and you may be able to handle it. But what about your children who are introduced to the use of alcohol by your example and who are not able to handle it? I can point to many parents who would give anything to be able to go back and become abstainers if only for the sake of their kids.

Taking all this into consideration, isn’t it best to remember the words of Paul? “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:23, 24).

________

 

*Scriptures are from the New Living Translation of the Bible, unless otherwise indicated.

 

John Caldwell is the retired pastor of Kingsway Christian Church, Avon, Indiana.

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89 Comments

  1. Rob Dale
    August 11, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Great story and interesting topic… You should have left it at that. Adding more to the Bible that what Jesus said is wrong, and claiming alcohol as part of a conspiracy that pushes the church to be “of the world” is also baseless.

    If Jesus wanted people not to drink, he woud have said so. If churches advertise “free beer on Sunday mornings” as an attempt to get people in the door, then you have a story.

    I’m disappointed in seeing the CS publish this.

  2. Brent
    August 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Really have a hard time understanding how the editors of this magazine let this article through.

  3. Al Forthman
    August 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

    On the other hand, I am pleased that CS continues to publish columns reflecting varying opinions under the broad title, “in opinions, liberty”.

    Brother Caldwell, thanks for sharing from the heart and from the benefit of your years of observation!

  4. Mike
    August 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

    To speak or not to speak.
    Think of all of the damage done with words. Just talk to psychologists, counselors, and ministers everywhere. People with emotional damage done by careless words are everywhere. Nowhere does the Bible specifically speak against words. In fact, in some cases it may promote words. But, we should consider the whole counsel of Scripture. There are many Proverbs that caution against speaking carelessly and speak to the great harm words can do. James has strong warnings about the tongue. Sure, some people can control their tongue, but many others can’t. What if my speaking encourages someone who can’t control their tongue to speak? What if my children hear me using words but can’t control their words? Wouldn’t it be better just to not use words? We should also consider that words back then weren’t like the words we have now. Sure we could use words, but that is just what the world does! In conclusion, all Christians should be monks and mimes. Vows of silence, while not mandated by the Bible, are obviously the only alternative for the Christian minister.

  5. Arthur Gordon
    August 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Having reflected on this issue for some time, I firmly believe that Dr. Caldwell addresses a substantive issue on the growing worldliness of the church. However, the conforming of the church to the world has little to do with the moderate consumption of alcohol, and the article offers an essentially worldly perspective on the use of alcohol. One does not have to be a Christian to condemn the abuses of alcohol that the author lists, and many non-Christian organizations and individuals work to address these social problems. The essence of worldliness is the creation of laws by men and the simultaneous demand that others follow their laws. Life in Christ is to enjoy and celebrate the good things that God has made. For eighteen-hundred years the unified position of the Church—Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant—was that the moderate consumption of wine or other alcohol was to be received as a blessing of God, as a sign of pleasure, joy and feasting in the Kingdom of God. A believer might choose to abstain, but such abstinence was not proscribed as the only possible Christian behavior. It was not until the temperance movements of the 1800s that Christians began to question the use of alcohol, and much of the misinformation about alcohol in Biblical and modern times (that wine in the Bible was of much lower alcohol content or that it was unfermented grape juice) stems from these movements.

    I certainly appreciate the author’s desire that we not cause our brothers and sisters to stumble, but in another context Paul also instructed the weaker believer to “not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them also” (Rom. 14:3) and the verse that he references from I Cor. was not the last word that Paul had to say in that context, for shortly after Paul tells us to take care that our liberty not become a stumbling block, he asks “If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:30-31). Taking the whole counsel of Scripture suggests that the lines regarding food and drink are not delineated as clearly as the prohibitionist might wish. Certainly the believer who chooses to drink alcohol has a responsibility to exercise discretion and sound judgment, but such discretion is not a one way street. Since, as the author acknowledges, the consumption of alcohol is not in itself sinful, and was apparently consumed by Jesus and the apostles, then there is no reason for its prohibition for the Christian. There are many things in the created order that God created for good, but these good things can be abused by His creation. This abuse can have effects as dire as those mentioned in the article, yet the Church offers no prohibition for them because it assumes that a believer can be discipled to understand and use these things properly. Moreover, the examples that are used in the article speak only of the abuse of alcohol, not its responsible use and enjoyment. In this case, he is speaking not of the use of alcohol as such, but of its sinful abuse—what Paul calls debauchery in a better English rendering of Eph. 5:18.

    I would rather not take either the word of the author or the word of the internet on the subject, as he suggests, but the words of Scripture. As Caldwell rightly says, let us certainly heed the Bible’s warnings about alcohol, but let us also consider a proper theological approach to the subject, which might deeply enhance the understanding that the Church has of the events of scripture which refer throughout to the tending of vineyards, the making of wine, and the image of the feast in the Kingdom of God. Caldwell suggests that we consider the whole counsel of God on alcohol, but the texts that he chooses are only a part of what Scripture has to say. Since Caldwell mentions some of the texts that warn against drunkenness (though they are far more clearly rendered in better translations such as the NRSV or NIV, rather than the paraphrased NLT), it would be helpful to consider some of the texts that he left out which contain important theological implications for God’s people. When used properly, wine throughout scripture is a blessing from God and it is a sign of God’s presence with his people, given to “gladden the heart” as the Psalmist says (Ps. 104:14-15) and the people of God are invited by Wisdom to come and drink of her wine so they might walk in the way of insight (Prov. 9:1-6). In the Mosaic Law wine is proscribed as a drink offering, whose odor is pleasing to the Lord (Lev. 15:10) and wine is included among the blessings given to Israel for obedience to the law of God (Deut. 7:13).

    More significantly, wine is part of the eschatological promise of God for his people. For the prophet Isaiah, the Kingdom of God is signified by “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.” This feast is offered on God’s holy mountain and it is part of the salvation of all people, where God will destroy death and wipe away the tears from all faces (Is. 25:6-10). This text in Isaiah prefigures not only the fulfillment of the Kingdom, but the entrance into the Kingdom that we participate in each week during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took the cup and offered it to His disciples, using wine to signify the new covenant in His blood. The church followed this practice for millennia, until recent times when it began to substitute unfermented grape juice. Grape juice, in our culture, is typically consumed at breakfast or is drunk by children. It is an ordinary beverage of no special significance. Wine, however, is a rich beverage that is associated with joy, feasting, and celebration. Certainly our understanding of the Lord’s Supper is changed through our substitution of grape juice for wine. When the whole of Scripture is taken into consideration, it reveals a complex and multifaceted perspective on the use of alcohol—which is precisely what we should expect as our very lives are no less rich and complex and the decisions that we make each day are dependent upon our understanding of Scripture, our life of prayer and meditation on the person of Christ, and the support and joy that we find in Christian community. Within that realm, believers may choose different paths, for abstinence or consumption, either of which is blessed by God when done in faith. That we may differ within the Church is a further blessing, for each of us can no doubt speak the word of God in settings that would not be open to others. That is the fullness of the body of Christ, and hopefully an image of respect and tolerance as we honor the choices of our brothers and sisters in Christ

    Regarding the author’s larger concern on the increasing worldliness of the church, which is far more troubling than the potential consumption of alcohol by believers, I believe that it is vital for the Christian Church to engage in a searching conversation on its faith and practice. Rather than talking about the proper use of alcohol I would suggest a discussion regarding the church that I regularly attend where the Bible college trained minister routinely downloads sermons from the internet and reads them verbatim and where an elder once told me that it was not necessary for scripture to be read as part of a Sunday school lesson and suggested that Jesus did not use scripture in His teaching. Or perhaps there should be discussion of the church that my sister and her family recently visited and when she went to pick up her children after Sunday School found that they did not want to leave because they were watching older children play a video game using plastic guns to shoot things on screen. In my experience visiting numerous Christian Churches, these types of scenarios are not isolated events but now pass for normal behavior within the fellowship. There is no end of worldly behavior on the part of the institutional church (often perpetrated in the name of evangelism) that we need to be very concerned about, seek appropriate guidance from Scripture, from elders, from the history of the Church, and pursue proper changes to a more Christian end. The time is short. We can spend our energies and resources attempting to legislate behavior according to worldly standards, or we can address substantive issues that will dictate the future of our faith. If our ministers, elders, and other leaders are not equipped to read and interpret Scripture, if our children are not trained and discipled in the faith, if the church is willing to modify its message to accommodate the most people, then it is not difficult to predict the future for our congregations. As the church becomes more deeply secularized, it will have fewer theological resources to draw on, fewer men and women capable of leading it, and little to say to a world that so desperately needs to hear its message.

  6. Brent
    August 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I appreciate what you had to say Arthur, your post has a whole lot more to say on the topic than the article did. The article rather seemed more fitting to be on an online blog as a rant than an article for a online or published magazine.

    Whether or not alcohol is our greatest evil in the church could be wildly debated as could gluttony, gossip, divorce, porn, and a ton of other issues our brothers and sisters are facing.

    This topic probably has been preached exactly the same way it was written in way too many pulpits. It has caused way to many Christian lay-persons to worry about not drinking, playing cards, or smoking, while they kill themselves with obesity, elect divorced leaders, and hold strong women leaders back.

    Now I’m ranting….

  7. K L
    August 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    This article was recently recommended to me and it was well worth my time. A big “Thank you!” to the author and to the Standard for having the courage to print what is often a very unpopular opinion.

    Mr. Caldwell did an excellent job of explaining his background and experiences in dealing with this particular recreational drug (alcohol), and also of giving solid statistics and logical arguments for his personal beliefs on the subject.

    I plan to keep this issue of the magazine on file as a resource when helping young people weigh the pros and cons of drug use and its possible effect on a Christian lifestyle. Thanks once again.

  8. Michael Hasselgbring
    August 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I read this article in a matter of seconds. Excellent! Way to go John Caldwell! Thank you Christian Standard for publishing it as well. I’ve been in full time ministry for 7 years. My wife and I have both abstained from alcohol our entire lives. We were beginning to think that we were the only ones left who didn’t drink, even in ministry. And the defense of alcohol “as a tool for evangelism,” what’s the word I’m looking for… Oh yeah, “lame excuse” or “hah” will work. Well done John, stick to your convictions and continue leading a life of integrity, not legalism as we choose to abstain.

    -Faithful reader of the Word and CS

  9. Dale Heimer
    August 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    Thanks for publishing the article. I totally concur with the content of the article. I would be hesitant to encourage my children to attend or support a Church were the leadership approved of alcohol either by teaching that drinking was acceptable or that through their example they did the same. How could any Christian leader approve of a addictive drug that is hazardous to social relationships and spiritual development?

  10. Ellen Read
    August 15, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I am the weaker brother (sister). I grew up in the home of an alcoholic and I struggle when someone in the pulpit speaks about going out for a beer or being at a wine tasting. Just one of those things that I struggle with and work HARD not to judge. I saw the bad side of alcohol for too many years. Thanks for writing this, Mr. Caldwell and for printing it, CS!

  11. Neil
    August 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I have no problem with someone teaching that drinking alcohol is acceptable … because it is. If, for whatever reason, a person chooses to abstain—fine. If, for whatever reason, a person chooses to encourage others to abstain—fine. Like lots of other behaviors (speaking and sex to name just two) the god sets parameters. Drink if you wish, just don’t get drunk. However, elevating the parameters to an outright prohibition, then using the same as a test for worldliness, spiritual maturity, or fitness for ministry—now THAT is unacceptable.

  12. Rob Tevis
    August 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t see some of the comments as helpful to the discussion. Saying that Christians should abstain from alcohol is adding to the gospel? Isn’t it missional? It’s not adding to the gospel, but adding to your witness.

    Drinking alcohol does not make you worldly, but it does make you suspect in the American culture. It is a cultural issue that is not so easily dismissed. If you minister to those who struggle with limiting alcohol, then why drink?

    The person who has never sat with a family in the early A.M. in the E.R. waiting for word from the doctor after a horrendous car accident sees this as a nonissue. Alcohol impacts lives negatively.

    I don’t drink because there is a biblical mandate to not drink, I don’t drink because alcohol destroyed my family growing up. My father was an alcoholic and it would be stupid for me to drink. It has to do with the fact that I want to honor Jesus in my fatherhood.

  13. Richard L. Temple
    August 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    John – You are right on with your article. I have seen for over 50 years the destruction of lives and homes due to alcohol use. I have watched family tear apart and have not only witnessed it in churches as minister but in my Hospice Chaplin Ministry. The number of people who have destroyed their bodies with alcohol is unbelievable and there are so many young people who are dying. Part of my career was as director of a Homeless Shelter in California and the number of alcoholics that came to us was unbelievable. Keep up the good word and example for others. God Bless

  14. Neil
    August 15, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    abstaining because of past experiences, either personal or pastoral, is fine. telling others the dangers is as well. but trying to make the claim that a behavior is worldly and unacceptable which is not biblically prohibited, that is even biblically permitted by extension (why say do not get drunk unless consumption is allowed, why would jesus create wine if its consumption was prohibited) is not itself acceptable use of the scriptures.

  15. August 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Perhaps before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we should examine a context which always seems to be popular: What would Jesus do? We don’t have to guess. “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” (Matthew 11:18-19; Luke 7:33-35). That Jesus was drinking a fermented beverage is clear from the context. He contrasts Himself to John the Baptist the tee-totaler, and declares a conclusion (although excessive and false) drawn by the religious leaders of the day which would not have been brought up at all had He been drinking water. Jesus’ conclusion on the matter wasn’t that He was wrong and John the Baptist was right, but that the religious leaders were wrong for such a shallow assessment of physical things. While the reasons to abstain are myriad and valid, one at least should consider how Jesus was able to eat and drink with sinners, yet not sin.

  16. Betty Turner
    August 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Right on, brother! I have seen the ravages of alcohol, and think Christians would do well to stay away from it altogether. Betty

  17. DDF
    August 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    John Caldwell gives his bias against alcohol and then writes what seems to be a fear-based article on the woes of drinking alcohol. Sad to say, the piece is not convincing and pretty boring as Caldwell trots out the same old arguments. Most pieces written out of fear aren’t very convincing or memorable.

    Enjoying, say, a good glass of wine with friends while being simultaneously and profoundly opposed to drunkenness seems to be a tension Caldwell can’t handle. Too bad.

    A New Testament professor I heard desperately tried to convince the class that Jesus turned water into a kind of non-alcoholic grape juice. Few of the young preachers-in-training sitting in class were convinced. Thankfully, the professor let the class have their say.

    One student, who had the lion’s share of the class with him, said the host in John 2 instantly knew that the wine was the finest fermented drink any of them ever had seen or drunk. He knew that if you drank too much of this wine well, wow!, you wouldn’t walk home unassisted. You’d more likely spend the night right there on the floor of the wedding hall. Otherwise why would the host of the wedding say, “Every one serves the good wine first and then when lots of people are tipsy, the lesser quality wine is brought out. But you have brought out the good stuff … the great stuff … now. Wow, teacher, what’s going here!”

    The student said, “I fear that lots of men went home tanked that night and may have gotten into huge fights with their wives, who knew they had way too much to drink.” Does Caldwell have a Jesus who would allow something like that to happen? I doubt it, given his fear-based writing style.

    Is the student’s interpretation right? Pretty close to right on, in my view.

    But the problem with that is that an interpretation like that scares Caldwell to death. The tension is too much; Jesus gets out of the box; Aslan is on the loose. “Come on, Aslan, not again.”

    “Jesus wouldn’t do that, now would he?” … Yes, Mr. Caldwell, he sure might. Indeed, he sure might. That Jesus isn’t particularly safe — never has been; never will be! — but he is extraordinarily kind and good. And holy moly, does he ever know how to redeem a wedding party!

    I have no argument with Caldwell that Alcohol is a huge problem. I agree 100 percent, 1,000 percent. Drunkenness is awful, and alcoholism is profoundly detrimental to thousands of families, no tens of thousands of families, throughout society. Thank God for thousands of congregation that provide help with those who struggle with alcohol and other addictive substances. Every congregation ought to.

    And yet, physician after physician in my church, and we have about 10, tell me that easily the number one health problem in America is not alcohol but obesity. Frankly, the church goers mimic the non-churchgoers almost identically in their obesity in churches throughout America, including the ministerial staff of thousands upon thousands of congregations.

  18. Mike
    August 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I do appreciate the author’s honesty at the beginning

    “I am biased. I hate alcohol…”

    He is biased. His bias drives him to disregard “where the Bible speaks we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent.” Instead of Biblical silence (at best, as there is actually evidence contrary to his main point), he creates a prohibition. It is honest, but not correct.

    The decision to drink or not requires discernment, wisdom, and an honest evaluation of one’s self-control. Not drinking is certainly the right choice in many cases. It is just as wrong to impose one’s limitation based on his own weakness on others who may not have the same weakness as it is to use our liberty in Christ in ways that harm others.

  19. James S. Sandusky
    August 16, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I am not a pastor, but rather just a simple minister of God’s Word, as was Peter and Paul. Drinking is wrong, but not the worst evil in the church. The worst evil in the church is false doctrine, believing that all are going to Heaven, no matter what there religious beliefs. When we get false doctrine back out of the church, then we will be on the right track. Contrary to popular belief, we are still the Lord’s Church, the one you read about in the New Testament.
    In His Service
    Jim

  20. Karen Norheim
    August 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Rob Dale, you make me smile when you write, “If Jesus wanted people not to drink, he would have said so.” It reminded me of a heated argument I had years ago with my mother when she said, “If God wanted you not to shave your legs, he would have said so.” Reasoning a little wobbly, don’t you think?

    There’s a lost world at our doorstep. Let’s just ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” and try to follow it the best we can, because he has sent us out to tell them the gospel while there is yet time.

    Let’s be “self-controlled and alert [because] your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Let’s keep our minds clear, and let there be peace among us.

    Karen

  21. Jeff Faull
    August 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Thank you John Caldwell for sharing your opinion and for opposing the prevailing winds. Your arguments are valid and this discussion needs to take place. I applaud Standard for printing this.

  22. RIchard
    August 16, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    This discussion has me irritated and so off I go . . . .

    As the Bible clearly indicates, immoderate use of alcohol is not a good thing, to put it mildly. But then the immoderate use of many things if often bad for us. As a society our health is poor because of the lack of appropriate diet. Health care costs for treating our overweight population is clearly a big deal. But to focus on just one of these immoderate acts seems to me to be missing the important point.

    Taking the view that Christians should avoid alchoholic beverages is as silly as saying that Christians should avoid candy or sugary drinks. Afterall, the immoderate use of these is killing people too!

    Thank goodness for God’s Grace as we stumble through life, drifting from one person’s views, to another’s advice, to another’s “helpful” words. Certainly we can do better than suggest that people who use alcohol (or other food) is something to be upset about.

  23. Paul Berry
    August 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I truly enjoyed this article on abstaining from alcohol. What scares me also is the fact of all these comments being so negative suggesting this gentleman is writing the verses himself. I, too, see the church as going to the worldly side starting with the ministers right on down through the elders in to the congregation. Bro. Caldwell was right when he said the church is slipping in worldly standards slowly, but surely, and the negative comments noting how everyone is wrong for abstaining only proves Bro. Caldwell’s point indeed.

    It seems folk today think they have a better answer than the older crowd and want to enforce their views into the church in the name of Christ. They are doing exactly what they have accused the leadership of doing. Amazing, isn’t it? It isn’t only alcohol, but we are taking folk into membership who are living with another person outside of wedlock, or are gay.

    These things are certainly outlined well in the Bible as being against Scripture, but we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, now do we? So we just usher in those things that are the way of the world and keep right on moving along without any conscience for the actual Scriptures.

    Bro. Caldwell wrote an excellent article. I commend him, and the Standard, for their allowing an unpopular view that was only proved out thbrough the negative comments.

  24. John Caldwell
    August 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I wish I could respond to each of you who commented, whether you affirmed the article or were critical. That not being possible, let me make a few general observations. When Mark Taylor asked me to write an opinion article for a new CS feature, “In Opinions Liberty,” I told him I would be glad to write because I have opinions on just about everything and I’m more than happy to share them. My opinion was and still is that we would all be better off if we abstained from drinking. That’s a fact. So is every statement in the article. You may not agree with my conclusions, but the facts are still the facts.

    In reading some of the criticisms I almost wondered if the writers had read the same article I wrote for I agreed with 90% of the criticisms offered. We (myself included) many times build straw men so we can tear them down effectively. So it was that some took issue with positions I neither wrote about nor hold. By the way this was not intended to be a theological treatise nor an expositional essay. It was an opinion piece.

    It was disappointing that no one chose to address the question, “Why drink?” Nor did anyone deal with the difference between the alcohol of Jesus day and the fortified drinks of today. I also wonder if any of you took me up on the challenge to scan a major newspaper each day for a week and note all the tragedies involving the use of alcohol.

    There is so much more I would like to say, but I am far from home and very limited in time to respond.
    So I will simply thank each of you for taking the time not only to read the article but to comment. Mark Taylor warned me that the article would be controversial. That’s all the more reason I’m glad I wrote it. If we all shared the same convictions on the subject then such an article would serve no purpose. And I will reaffirm my position that all of us would be better off in any number of ways if we abstained from alcohol. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

  25. Jack Boyd
    August 17, 2012 at 4:19 am

    You can tell that alcohol controls the life and minds of some of the commenters. Scripture and reality seem to be absent and seem to have little meaning to those who are worshipping their bodies and are followers of the world. The Scripture that says “having eyes to see they do not see. Having ears to hear they do not hear.” Could it be that some of the commenters are baby Christians? Let us pray for their growth and love them as Jesus loves us. And stop condemning the messenger!

  26. Arthur Gordon
    August 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Perhaps the reason no one has answered the questions about why one should drink or about the “difference” between alcohol in the Bible and alcohol today is because the first question is irrelevant and the second question is based on factual misinformation. The idea that a believer would suggest to another believer that they “should” drink is evil. At the same time, it is bizarre to think that the moderate use of alcohol needs to be “defended,” when it needs no more defense than the use of anything else that is OK in itself (the matters of food and drink or some of the other examples raised in the comments), but can be abused and can cause harm to others and to the church.

    The belief that alcohol in the Bible was somehow structurally different than that of today is based on misinformation that was spread during the temperance movement and cannot be factually supported. The idea that beer and wine are different as a result of the process of distillation or the idea that ordinary beer and wine are somehow “fortified” is factually incorrect. The only commonly available wine that is fortified is port wine. It is usually around 18-20% alcohol by volume and, as a result is offered in smaller servings. It is made by distilling wine and then adding a small portion of that product back into the original batch of wine. In contrast, beer typically ranges from 3-9% alcohol by volume and ordinary wine from 8-13% alcohol by volume. Distillation or fortification has nothing whatsoever to do with their production.

    The process of making wine or beer depends on only two things-—a liquid medium that contains fermentable sugars (grape juice for wine, wort for beer, honey for mead) and yeast which consumes these sugars and produces alcohol as a byproduct. The alcohol content of the finished product is determined only by the strain of yeast-—at a certain point the alcohol inhibits the growth of the yeast, causing it to go dormant or die which means, in turn, that the alcoholic content cannot be raised beyond the point at which the yeast dies. A strain of yeast that can live longer in a higher alcohol environment will produce a stronger wine in terms of alcohol by volume. This process has only been fully understood within the past 200 years, and brewers and winemakers now choose strains of yeast suited to the style of wine that they wish to make—-with 14% alcohol by volume being at the top end of what yeast will naturally produce.

    The winemakers of ancient Israel would have relied on wild yeasts to create natural or spontaneous fermentation for their winemaking (though it would also have been possible to inoculate new wine with old to continue the growth of a desirable strain of yeast), and it would result in a drink of at least 3-8% alcohol by volume, comparable to modern style of beer brewed in Belgium (by Christians, no less!) that is created through the use of wild yeast.

    Misunderstanding within the church over issues such as this are deeply enhanced when we are unaware of the broader context and the salient facts of the topic that we are speaking about. The idea that drinking is a form of evangelism is foolish; the idea that we could speak knowledgeably about that which we warn against enhances our credibility.

    The problem is that none of the above information has anything to do with Christ, though it is certainly germane to the original article and to the comments that have stemmed from it. The article and many of the comments rely largely on anecdotal information and experience as the basis of their arguments (there are also many poor analogies, both for and against, but these should be left aside!). Such experience is an important aspect of our life and faith, and these experiences may lead an individual or a Christian community to choose to abstain from alcohol or to choose to abstain from other temptations. Such discernment and witness is vital to the life of the church and necessary for its continued health and growth.

    However, where the original article moves from being a simple opinion piece to a theological assertion is in the idea that the moderate use of alcohol is a sign of worldliness. There should be no argument whatsoever with the author’s position of abstinence as a worthy opinion, as a viable and important form of Christian witness, and perhaps, as an ideal. There should be strong questions raised, however, about the essentially theological claim made that the moderate use of alcohol is a sign of conformity to the world, especially when that claim is made in contradiction to aspects of the biblical witness that were indeed mentioned (but too easily dismissed) in the article and against the practice of the church throughout history.

    Moreover, there are important theological issues raised, as I noted in my comment above, on how believers who hold different opinions and engage in different practices should respect one another. The idea that the onus of responsibility falls only on the stronger believer is not supported by Scripture. The strong have no place to champion the moderate use of alcohol, just as the weak have no place to condemn those who do; to do so is to fall into a trap that suggests that we are able to make laws for ourselves and others, either for or against a particular topic. All are a part of the body of Christ, all have a responsibility to one another, and all must practice love and discretion through the acquisition of godly wisdom and the practice of Christian discernment.

  27. Mike
    August 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    “It was disappointing that no one chose to address the question, “Why drink?” Nor did anyone deal with the difference between the alcohol of Jesus day and the fortified drinks of today. I also wonder if any of you took me up on the challenge to scan a major newspaper each day for a week and note all the tragedies involving the use of alcohol.”

    I think no one addressed “why drink” because those on the other side see the “don’t drink at all” side as having the burden of proof (liberty as the rule, unless there is direct evidence to the contrary). And the burden is not to prove that alcohol in excess is bad, but that alcohol in any quantity should be avoided. The challenge to read the newspaper is interesting, but does not directly address the issue at hand. The newspaper usually is filled with tragedies caused by the abuse of alcohol. We all agree (I hope) that such abuse is sinful. The issue about the difference in alcohol content is also interesting, but still doesn’t address the main issue. We know that the stuff in the NT was strong enough to get people drunk. The wedding host implied as much, the crowd at Pentecost assumed that the Apostles were drunk, and the Corinthians may have been getting drunk in church (yet Paul never even hints that they should stop drinking alcohol). It doesn’t matter if it takes one cup or twelve to get drunk. The result is still sin, if it is abused. However, if it takes one cup of the distilled stuff to get drunk, and I only have 1/4 cup, shall we call my consumption wrong (or less preferable)? My conclusion is “no” (unless some other factor is at play – such as a brother who struggles with alcoholism being present). It would be basically like someone in the NT having several cups of weaker wine without getting drunk. Again, the sin would be in the excess and abuse of alcohol, whatever the alcohol content of the drink.

    The problem I have is that you seem to equate disagreement with your opinion to worldliness, hurting the church, and dishonoring Christ. If those things are true, it should not be a matter of opinion. That said, I respect greatly those who choose to abstain from alcohol. I respect it even more from those who have had a past with alcohol. Please don’t take my disagreement as a lack of respect.

    Of course, there are also a range of uses for the word “opinion” which may be complicating the issue.

  28. August 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    John Caldwell’s article is excellent.

    Those who paint Jesus as a modern winemaker have several hurdles to clear. It needs to be demonstrated that wine was always fermented. Wine came from a wine press and that was grape juice, just as olive oil came from an olive press. Isaiah 65:8 shows the word wine being used for grape juice beyond any doubt.

    Do the math on the amount of beverage created and how many 4 oz. glasses of alcoholic wine that would be. Then apply it to the number of guests in a small town.

    Let’s grant for the sake of discussion that all wine in the New Testament was fermented. It wasn’t leaving behind a trail of broken homes, fatal accidents, alcoholic children and destroyed incomes. Our love for our brethren ought to force us to lay aside beverage alcohol, even if we have the technical right to use it.

    Thank you John for speaking up.

  29. August 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    There is nothing inherently wrong or sinful with drinking alcoholic beverages. It is better for all concerned if you do not. The “better” makes all the difference. I have noticed over the years that the real leaders at business, and political gatherings do NOT drink, or drink sparingly. That it itself tells me it is a better choice not to drink alcoholic beverages.

    As former chairman of a public alcohol and other drug abuse commission, I agree wholeheartedly with the article. I believe that most of us who have worked in this field would agree.

  30. Bruce Hayes
    August 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Great article Bro. Caldwell! Thank you for having the courage to state your convictions and stand by them.
    I too believe that this issue is one of several issues that relates to a broader and even more significant subject— the modern church’s move toward becoming more like the world.
    It is my prayer that an army of Christians, like Bro. Caldwell, will rise up and be distinctive, not afraid to stand against the prevailing winds of our times. I am praying for men who will have the courage to live for what matters most – men who will want to look more like Christ than the world.
    Thank you John Caldwell for your years of service in the Lord’s Church and for the integrity in which you ministered.

  31. August 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I believe that Caldwell’s article is a healthy contemplation of a problem all of us see.
    However, it is interesting to me that the same type of reasoning is applied to religion by atheists and agnostics.

    No matter which side of the topic one is biased towards the abuse comes back to being a heart issue.

    It seems to me that what is being advocated is a fear of alcohol rather than a respect for it.
    Interestingly enough, it seems that we (church leaders) advocate a respect for God rather than an accurate fear of Him.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Mr. Caldwell. Contemplating both sides of this issue keeps me healthy.
    I have a tolerance of alcohol and ideas.

  32. August 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Okay, I am conscience bound to weigh in on this one…. For a minute, forget about making a definitive case for or against ‘drinking’ from the Bible. Here’s the truth from logic and real life. No one starts out to be an alcoholic. Everyone begins with a defensive attitude saying, “I’m just a social drinker and there is nothing wrong with it!” no one says, “It is my ambition that someday i want to lose my job, my health, my self-respect, my marriage and my family. Someday I want to be dependent on alcohol to get through my day.” yet, this is the destination at which several millions of people have arrived. Why do you suppose that is? It is because alcohol is promoted and elevated as a normal/sophisticated activity in life…. It is also expensive, addictive and enslaving. People get hooked by America’s number one legal drug. And just like all illegal drugs, alcohol finds it way into the body, the bloodstream and the brain of the user/abuser.

    I had two uncles whose lives were wrecked by alcohol. The exception you say? Hardly. It is not what they wanted when they dreamed of their futures when they were in their 20s. Praise God, they were wonderfully delivered in their 60s when the grace of God became real to them. And can you imagine it?…. They got their lives back by becoming total abstainers by the power of the Holy Spirit!

    One of my most memorable conversations in the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, MO, was with a young man facing a 28 year prison sentence for the brutal sexual assault of his own 8 year old daughter. I will never forget the image. The tears literally ran off his chin and splashed on his shoes as he gushed, “I guess I did it. I don’t know. I was drunk at the time.”

    Listen, some of those who are defensive in response to Dr. Caldwell’s thoughtful and courageous article will want to revise their text if, in a few years, they discover that they were able to handle their drinking just fine, but their son or daughter could not. Answer honestly. Could you live with the knowledge that your dangerous exercise of Christian liberty factored into your children’s ruin? Or, if your loved one is killed some day in a head on collision by a driver under the influence who crossed the center line, will you still be defensive of drinking?

    A good friend during my growing up years was the only child of social drinking parents. When his folks were away, he would go to the rathskeller [German for tavern] in the basement where he developed a taste for alcohol. I won’t bore you with the details. He is 65 today. A broken life, broken health, broken marriages, a broken relationship with his only son, a broken relationship with his only grandchild, a broken career and a broken spirit that…. Tragically…. He tries daily to medicate with the alcohol that led him to this tragic destination.

    Hey, thanks for indulging my rant. Like my friend John Caldwell, i confess to setting the bar high for Christian leadership [especially] when it comes to aesthetic holiness. Call me a ‘right-wing fundamentalist.’ Call me a ‘throw back to the days of the tent evangelists.’ Call me a ‘simpleton.’ Call me a ‘minimalist.’ but, if you do, go ahead and also call me a ‘watchman on the wall’ where the welfare of my family [children, in-laws, grandchildren] and my church family is concerned. K i

  33. Loretta Park
    August 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    As one writer suggested, speak where the Bible speaks; be silent where the Bible is silent.

    As another writer quoted, Do nothing that causes your brother to stumble.

    When the church inserted its own doctrine — Christians should not drink — did it, and does it continue to cause others to stumble when they see someone they know to be a Christian having a beer with pizza or a glass of wine with dinner?

    One extreme scenario comes to mind right out of the pages of The Lookout several years ago. An elder and his wife who were eating at Applebee’s were forced to eat in the bar area since the other seating area was full. The elder was NOT having a drink, but a senior saint who saw him sitting in the bar area took him to task with the leadership. This should have been a non-issue in spite of wrong-headed church doctrine, but it most certainly would not have been an issue without such doctrine.

    I can’t help but wonder if the church had concentrated its focus on drunkeness, how much more influential it might have been, and not just in the area of drunkeness…

  34. Jenn
    January 8, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this article. Obviously, people do not like when you turn the light onto an area in their life that they would rather remain in the dark about. How is it that the one subject of alcohol can turn Christian brothers into being so defensive they actually start looking for good comebacks or insults or darts to throw at their Christian brethren. I especially enjoyed the retort comparing the use of alcohol to the use or words. Wow! How many people are in prison because of their words? How many people have taken another person’s life with their words? Hardly comparable , but very cute anyway. What comes out of our mouths is actually an overflow of our hearts so to attack one another because of an article about alcohol consumption shows where we may have some areas that are not surrendered fully to the Lord.
    I thoroughly enjoyed the article. There is never a more divisive topic among Christians it seems. I have to ask those that have become so defensive on the subject, is alcohol really THAT important in your life that you feel the need to tear down anyone that opposes your use of it? Every pain I’ve ever experienced in my life has either happened while or because of my being under the influence of alcohol. When I rededicated my life to Christ as an adult I wanted nothing to do with it ever again. I find it funny however that people don’t like it when they offer you a drink and you say “No”. You are either “Someone who thinks they are just holier than thou” or a “goody two shoes” or whatever but the thing is …when I have a diet soda, I don’t get upset or label other people if they don’t have a diet soda with me. Why is it that this whole topic cuts right down to the core? It is because alcohol destroys lives, destroys our witness, and we just don’t like the light shined in certain areas of our lives that we think won’t ever cause us to fumble or fall. That is …until it’s too late. Be smart , be honest about it fellow Christians . “No one ever said This beer makes me feel so much more Christlike.”

  35. DW Duke
    January 8, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    If this article is correct then why John 2:1-11?

  36. shawn
    January 9, 2014 at 9:17 am

    DW – the simple answer to your question about Jesus turning water to wine is that the “wine” of ancient times was much different than that of today. Archaeology pretty much shows that people in biblical times did not have the technology we do today to produce highly concentrated levels of alcohol. Although supporters of social drinking will often point to this passage, in essence Jesus produced some good grape juice here (let the critics weigh in at this point).

    As one of my seminary professors said – a person would have to drink all night (in most cases) to get drunk. Thus the biblical exhortation to “not linger long at wine”.

    There’s no need for me to list all kinds of citations to support this; the research is available to those who honestly want to understand what wine was like in NT times. And that it, and the processes to produce it, were MUCH different than those of today.

  37. Diane
    January 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    From my Heart, I want to Thank you for writing this article. I wish all of my friends would read it.

  38. Shari
    January 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you for this article. I do not know if I would become addicted to alcohol and I do not want to find out. Therefore I do not drink. No sense in it. There are plenty of delicious non-alcoholic drinks to fill our bellies and quench our thirst!

  39. lisa worthey
    January 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Honestly, I totally agree with this message! And, I drink on occassion–maybe once a year. I read the comments that actually said Dr. Caldwell was wrong for writing (preaching) this message. And, I’m assuming from Christians. Can it be that he is right, and not only is he right, but he has Scripture to back him up. Everyone says, it won’t happen to me. I won’t drink too much to get pulled over and then lose my job; I won’t accidentally lose control of my car and hit someone–I only had two beers. I believe he was speaking from his heart and maybe what God put on his heart to share with believers. Dr. Caldwell makes some very good points. So instead of jumping on him for bringing this message to us–don’t be like the Israelites when Moses shared a message from God. Consider the source–the Bible.

  40. Dwight Smith
    January 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    John, You make some good arguments against alcohol. However all of them are nullified if the Bible does not forbid the use of alcohol. If the Bible says “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red” (Prov. 23:31), drinking alcohol is forbidden by the Bible period. To come to any other conclusion is to disregard, wrest, or rewrite the Scripture. The one wine theory is just that, a theory founded on human reasoning and disobedience to God’s Word.

    In Leviticus 10, the Priest And Levite is to totally abstain. In Proverbs 31, the king is to totally abstain. Because Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) and the King of Kings (Revelation 19), He never touched a drop of alcohol. The wine which he produced and consumed had no alcohol or fermentation. To say anything less is to make Jesus Christ a liar and a bootlegger. Is that what you and others commenting here wish to conclude?

    Believers are called kings and priests (Revelation 1:6). As such, it is a sin and violation of the Scripture to drink one drop of alcohol.

    God declares in Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” The sum total of this verse is that wine (alcohol in this context), and strong drink by their very nature are scornful, destructive, and deceptive. This begs the question, would the Lord Jesus Christ, the Author of the Bible condemn something in one place by His words, and then condone it in another place by His actions? The answer of course is negative. Thus, the wine Jesus made or drank must be in nature different than what he condemned. To conclude otherwise is to do so based upon ignorance. God condemns the nature of alcohol as deceptive. Drinking it once makes one mocked, on the self destructive path, and deceived.

    If your readers can truly drink a few and “handle it,” as you say, ask them to never touch it. It seems to me that you and those who hold your position have a harder time holding the truth of Scripture than holding their liquor. Again, you make a few good arguments against alcohol and the drinking of it, but all of them fade when you ignore the plain statements of the Bible. Preachers who conclude thus, remind us all of the prophet Hananiah in Jeremiah 28. Each prophet standing like and with him must repent or answer to God.

  41. Mark
    January 11, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Drinking to excess is wrong. However, drinking in moderation is not only “not bad” but quite healthful as study after study has shown. In fact, most studies done over the past 30 years point out that having one drink of beer or wine a day is more healthful than not drinking at all. Throw out the “drinking does not honor the body as a temple” argument.

    I am amused by people who think the wine of long ago was non-alcoholic. The basic recipe of fermentation has not changed for thousands of years. Wine is alcoholic and was “invented” because it could be preserved past the harvest season and people would have something to drink (water was contaminated usually). Putting forward the position that Jesus’ wine was non-alcoholic is just foolishness.

    Jesus commanded us to drink wine “in remembrance” of him. A vast majority of the world’s Christians drink wine during church as part of Holy Communion. Suggesting that it is unholy for them to do so is insulting.

    If you choose not to drink alcoholic beverages then it is certainly your choice…and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you push the position that it is un-Christian-like or unhealthy then you are just plain flat out wrong. Geez…Christ himself drank. If it was okay for Him then it is certainly okay for me.

  42. Ruben
    January 11, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Excellent article….. I always find it strange that Christians would try to defend alcohol as there being nothing wrong with it. Is it a sin, not at all, does it hinder your Christian witness, perhaps. Do we need to drink alcohol, not at all.

    What I find interesting is that Paul had to tell Timothy to drink a little alcohol for the sake of his stomach. For me this implies that Timothy was an abstainer. Something he most probably seen as a good witnessing tool.

    Why Christians would fight for their “liberty” for something that causes heartache to so many is baffling for me. We should be attempting to help those who are suffering from the harmful effects of alcohol, not defending it’s usage. Seems so petty to me, this “I want” attitude and “how dare you tell me what to do.” Deacons and Elders are there to rebuke, to warn and to edify. This article is pointing to the danger of alcohol and how we as Christians should be aware of this danger and how it could affect our testimony. Nowhere did I read of him condemning anyone who has a social drink.

  43. David
    January 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I approach this with no biblical direction other than to aim to be a good steward of our world….

    Question:

    Why support an industry which causes so much heartache in society?

    Why support an industry which deliberately tries to snare our young people into consumption by manufacturing “Alcopops”.

    I don’t see anyone writing in whose life has been BADLY affected by alcohol DEFENDING it’s role in our society….it only seems to be defended by those who think they can “handle” it.

    We are so flawed….a funeral of a person killed by drunk driving…what do we do at “the wake”? Toast their memory with the very thing that contributed to their death….alcohol.

  44. Mike
    January 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this article, as it reflects directly what Christians should be following and teaching. It’s not about what’s “banned or not banned”, but what’s wise given the world we live in. I can’t find any substantive reason, other than for private usage in one’s home or for medicinal uses, why alcohol should be consumed by Christians in today’s environment where so many struggle with it and our society is addicted to it. To do so would violate nearly every aspect of why I became a Christian to begin with.

  45. Caleb
    January 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I would like to see the author preach this message to a church in Germany, the UK, or Spain. All of these countries have vastly, fewer fatalities due to alcohol BECAUSE they don’t antogonize a God-given grace; consumed and blessed by The Lord incarnate. You can’t preach abstinence based on misuse of God’s creation. You could take this extremity to much of creation–food, water, language. I can eat too much; I can drown myself or over hydrate; I can curse others or gossip. All of these can harm us or others, yet the Bible preaches wisdom much more than legalistic imposition. This article represents the weak in faith that Paul addresses in Romans, and the sad part is that the weak are also shepherds.

  46. Sandy
    January 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    So if I understand this correctly Christians should:
    Abstain from alcohol because others abuse the use of it.
    Abstain from food because others abuse the use of it.
    Abstain from TV, Internet, magazines because others abuse the use of it.
    Abstain from……etc.

    Maybe if Christians gave those people out there that are abusing these things something better we could change the world…

  47. David
    January 13, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    All people (not just Christians) should abstain from using the services of any industry which deliberately damages our society.

    Our heart should be of complete love, so we can help those trapped in whatever life prison they are in so that we can free them from that bondage. What a glorious world we could have!

  48. JR Moffatt
    January 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I have no problem (actually enjoyed the opinion). John stated up front that it was HIS opinion. No where that I saw did he say having a drink is a sin (he said just the opposite, that the Bible doesn’t say it’s a sin). He expressed his thoughts according to his bias. It’s incredible the number of people who have insinuated that he stated it “as a sin”. I don’t get where this comes from unless it is just the ultra defense mode.

    Also, a simple question……can you not address one issue in today’s world unless you address them all? We can’t talk about alcohol unless we also talk about obesity? We can’t talk about obesity unless we talk about a loose tongue? Etc etc etc…..wow, we are in for some looooooooooong articles! Come on y’all that’s craziness.

  49. Diana
    January 18, 2014 at 7:08 am

    I have read the article and all the comments above, which is a lively discussion! Though drinking is not a sin, it is a potentially-addictive snare that causes manifold damage to the one who drinks as well as to many innocent victims. The main problem is one never knows if alcohol will become an addiction until one is ensnared.

  50. Becky
    January 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I agree with your points in this article. I don’t drink. I don’t want to drink. My question is this: How do you respond to people who think you are judging them for drinking by your NOT drinking?

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