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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Christian Love is striving for Peace and Holiness

Guidelines to help engage in a healthy balance

“All you need is love.” – John Lennon

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Peace begins with a smile…” – Mother Teresa

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” – Nan

The world is striving for some level of love and peace.  You don’t have to be a Christian to notice or experience that truth.  Christian love, however, has another component – holiness.

In order to grow as believers, we have to choose the path of discipline.  Discipline takes hard work, dedication and, most importantly, loving support from fellow believers.

When describing that loving support, the Hebrews writer put it this way:

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, ESV).

Christian love requires two things: PEACE and HOLINESS.

Recent Conversations…

With political conversations on the rise (ie. the Trump and Hillary saga), social debates (ie. abortion and gender issues) and otherwise challenging days, the desire for love and peace has never been greater.

I love talking with people about these current issues.  How we respond to them will determine if we really want to pursue both PEACE and HOLINESS.  Yes, these topics can seem much bigger than our personal contexts, but they affect us all in our journey of discipline and growth.

Quite often we attempt to pursue peace in terms of what we think is right and forget about holiness (what God defines as right).  And in the middle of these controversial moments, we have to react and respond as we live in this tension.

So, can we pursue both peace and holiness effectively?

Peace

We talk about peace in many contexts.  We want world peace.  We want freedom of religion.  We want freedom of speech.  We want…well, you can fill in the blank.

We usually understand peace to be a “peace at any cost.”  “The price for peace is never too great,” some would say.  Where does this leave us?  At war.  It leaves us pursuing personal peace, and causing dissention somewhere else.

Christian peace, isn’t a peace “at all costs.”  Christian peace is only within the limits of what is right and holy.1

Holiness

Holiness is being set apart to pursue God’s spiritual agenda for us.  When pursing love, this is the difference between being a believer and an unbeliever.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the difference between a Christian pursing peace and love and everyone else doing the same.  The Hebrews writer couldn’t be clearer here.  Jesus is seen when we match our striving for peace with holiness.

I think it’s also fair to say, that if we don’t pair them together, Jesus isn’t seen.

The Challenge…

No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, when we engage with others, we have to make sure we react and respond with PEACE and HOLINESS.  That’s what Christian love looks like.

So what should we do? This is a balance that will look quite different for each situation, but maybe these guidelines will help.

  1. Choose personal discipline

There’s no way we’ll be able to balance peace and holiness in the moments of life’s chaos if we’re not already on the journey of growth (Hebrews 12:3-13).

  1. Exchange shoes

Sometimes we blind ourselves by our own opinions.  When attempting to love each other, put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  It might be a cliché, but I think it’s key if we actually want to understand the tension (Hebrews 12:14).

  1. Actively Love

Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action.  It’s not good enough to passively understand Christian love; we have to actively engage in it.  That means we can’t simply say, “I feel bad…” we have to take action and embody peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:15).

As Jesus said;

“…everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

Your turn…

How have you seen peace and holiness at work?  How do you work through that tension? Comment below with an example…

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

References   [ + ]