My New View on Alcohol

Understanding the Tension of Modern Biblical Decision Making

The consumption of alcohol continues to be a controversial topic. I shared my personal thought process a while back (3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol). After a discussion with my wife about the topic and potential interpretations, I’ve come to realize it sounded more narrow-minded than I ever intended. I was hoping it would help readers come to their own conclusion.

My New View on Alcohol

So, since this blog is about our spiritual journey, let me apologize for my lack of clarity and let me share with you my new view on drinking alcohol.

Lessons learned…

No matter what your view may be, this topic is personal enough that not all will agree. Sometimes we can argue facts, but the reality is, much of this conversation is based on personal experience.

For example, a family impacted by an alcoholic family member, will almost certainly view this subject differently than a family who has created a culture of responsible consumption. And, if we were honest, there’s about thousand different situations in-between.  We have to respect each and every one of these situations.

I also wanted to give Christians (especially believers who abstain from alcohol) the ability to see an example of “thinking it through.” Growing up, I really wasn’t given the opportunity or space to ask questions to define my own answer to whether or not I would consume alcohol. Did my original post successfully help people think? Probably not the way I would have liked.

My 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol were never meant to be prescriptive to every Christian, nor do I judge any Christian who responsibly consumes alcohol. I have many Christian family members and friends who choose to consume – and do so in front of me. I certainly have no problem with that.

In fact, the reasons I give for not drinking, can easily become the reasons why a Christian could drink responsibly.  It’s a healthy tension that each believer must weigh out as they make their decision.

So in light of that new understanding, I’ll give you three tensions a Christian must weigh out. Remember these are personal tensions – one that each believer must work through.

1. “No alcohol” versus “conservative alcohol.”

We don’t know for sure, but it’s safe to say that Jesus and his disciples consumed wine.  It was part of their culture and it was never mentioned as being an issue.

Like I mention in my previous post, the only time the Greek word for “new wine” (gleukos, meaning “sweet unfermented wine”) is used, is in Acts 2.  When the disciples were filled with the spirit, several witnesses were making fun of them as if they could get drunk off of weak wine.1  Why? Because they weren’t known to be drunk.  Their view of alcohol was clearly on the conservative side.

THINK: How conservative do I need to be to gain the kind of reputation the disciples had?

2. “Sin” versus “Boundary.”

The only sin we see in scripture is drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-25).  Unfortunately, drinking too much alcohol leads to drunkenness.  So the natural tension becomes one of sin versus boundary.  Because of his stomach and sickness, Paul told Timothy to have a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23).  Obviously, the journey wasn’t towards sin but towards a healthy boundary.

THINK: What boundaries do I have to put in place in order to stay away from drunkenness?

3. “Culture” versus “Witness.”

There’s a vast discussion here alone.  The tensions of particular situations, local cultures, and ethnic traditions, all impact how we understand alcohol.  That, paired with our potential witness to others, could dramatically impact our view.

Paul said, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful” (1 Corinthians 10:23).  Likewise, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).  No matter the situation, we need to be willing to put our own desires aside for the sake of the Kingdom and live in that tension.

THINK: How does my culture and witness impact my view of alcohol?

Your turn…

How do you reflect on these tensions regarding alcohol consumption?


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Bring Back the 50s “Wife”!?

Balancing Towards a Healthy Marriage

A photo has recently circulated around social media describing how a wife in the 1950s should prepare for her husband’s return from work.  Now, before I say anything else, let the record show that if I expected any of these items from my wife, she wouldn’t be my wife for very long. But the picture did get me thinking – have we discarded some valuable marriage advice on account of the extreme conditions we found ourselves in?

bring-back-the-50s-wife

If you have yet to see the photo, here it is:

tips-to-look-after-your-husband

We read these 1950s guidelines humorously in 2016.  Many today can’t even imagine living in a world with that mindset.

But here’s the issue: we have to realize we’re people of extremes. We tend to go from one extreme (nearly abuse of women) to the other (nearly abuse of men).  You could argue against those extremes if you want, but the pendulum definitely swings.

In Canada, the divorce rate has leveled off in recent years, but so has the commitment of marriage.1  In our push to treat women better, we haven’t solved marriage problems.  The problems are just different now.

So, here’s my question: have we discarded anything of value?  To use the common phrase: “Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater?”

Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Selflessness is the key to a healthy marriage.

A healthy #marriage should include two people who put the other before themselves. Click To TweetThe verse that says, “Wives submit to your husbands…and husbands love your wives, like Christ loved the Church…” (Ephesians 5:22f) is often misunderstood.  The key to that verse is selflessness.  A healthy marriage should include two people who put the other person before themselves. Why not spoil your spouse!?  The only potential problem – it can’t be one-sided.

2. Generalized gender roles shouldn’t exist.

Our culture demands gender roles – what men and women should and shouldn’t do. Biblically, this shouldn’t be the case.  Jacob and Esau are great examples.  Both were male and yet completely different.  Esau was a hunter, while Jacob was a home-maker.  At no point, does scripture say either of them were “outside” of their gender.2  A healthy marriage doesn’t include generalized roles, rather leverages the strengths of each other.  That means some of these guidelines could actually help stay-at-home dads as well.

3. Listening and communicating to your spouse is a good thing.

If you haven’t heard this before, you haven’t been listening.  Communication and genuinely listening to your spouse is a part of a healthy marriage.  A common issue among divorcees is a lack of attention for each other.  Again, it can’t be one-sided, but it’s something we should value and protect for sure.

4. It takes a community to raise a child.

This 1950 guide seems to put most of the active parenting role on the mother; however, both parents (and sometimes other family and friends) hold that responsibly.  It’s probably safe to say we all agree with that.  The problem is, when we discard this traditional mindset, we can’t forget that if someone does stay home with the children (either parent) their level of daily parenting is still greater.  The responsibility might be equal, while the activity may not be.  A healthy marriage recognizes this dynamic.

5. Stress goes both ways.

There’s no need for “making him comfortable.”  But let’s face it, everyone deals with a variety of issues every day.  A healthy marriage recognizes the daily stress of their spouse.  It’s probably not a good idea to compare the level of stress – the stress is just different.  I wish I was better at this, but creating a “winding-down time” before diving into the world of parenting a toddler would be helpful.

6. Make the evening “ours”.

A healthy #marriage is about being together. #unity #HealthyAttention Click To TweetAfter a long day make efforts to spend quality time together.  Watch your favorite TV show, play a game, or share a funny story.  Even if it’s work around the house, time spent together is valuable.  If there’s one thing this guide has right, is protecting the need for the home to be a safe and peaceful place. It just shouldn’t be one-sided.  A healthy marriage is about being together.

I can’t say I’m perfect on all these fronts [and my wife would say, “Amen!”], but they are things I value and try to work on.

At the end of day, we should probably take this 1950s list and apply it to both spouses.  We have the tendency to dismiss things.  If we lived more selflessly, however, marriage would become a sought after commitment instead of a traditional option.

Your turn…

What aspects would you want to protect or return?  How can we move towards balance and not another extreme?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]