Moderation, Self-Control and Social Responsibility

The issue of alcohol use is definitely a “hot button issue” within Christian circles. Depending on the particular Christian circle you find yourself, you are taught either to consume alcohol responsibly, totally abstain, or the subject is totally ignored.

The United Methodist Book of Discipline Social Principles encourages abstaining from the use of alcohol and calls for “judicious use”* by those who decide to consume alcohol.

Generally, those on any side of the debate tend to proof-text (using verses out of context) in order to defend their position.  We take verses and then interpret them in a way that supports our particular point of view.

We’ll quote Ephesians 5:18, which says, “Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…” Now, depending on your view on alcohol, you will interpret this differently. Those calling for abstaining from alcohol will say, “It says don’t get drunk. That means don’t drink.” Those who practice the “judicious use” of alcohol say, “Well, it just encourages moderation, self-control and social responsibility.”

We’ll quote I Corinthians 6:12, which says, “ I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful. I have the freedom to do anything, but I won’t be controlled by anything.” Those who practice the “judicious use” of alcohol will say, “See, the Bible says we have the freedom to do anything. Just because you have decided not to drink alcohol doesn’t mean I can’t.” Those who abstain will say, “Well, the Bible clearly says that just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

And, we can continue picking and choosing verses in order to build up our defense.

The reality is, this is a complex issue. It is one, like others, that should be prayerfully considered. It is an issue that many faithful Christians will disagree on…and that’s okay.

This blog is called “Grabbing a Beer with a Pastor”. Obviously, I have come down on the “judicious use” side of this matter. However, I do not encourage those who abstain to change their point of view.  I’m not attempting to justify my consumption of the occasional beer. I’m also not attempting to belittle those who have arrived at a different point of view on the use of alcohol.

“Grabbing a Beer with a Pastor” is not attempting to glorify, promote or encourage the consumption of alcohol. I’m a firm believer in moderation, self-control and social responsibility.

The reality is that, for some, self-control and social responsibility means abstaining from the use of alcohol. There was a time in my life where I lacked self-control in the area of alcohol consumption. One beer quickly turned into one too many beers. When I began to take my relationship with Jesus seriously, for a time I needed to abstain from the use of alcohol simply because I lacked self-control. However, I never thought it was wrong for others to responsibly consume alcoholic beverages.

As I grew and matured, I was able to practice self-control and enjoy beer in moderation. So, it is my prayerfully considered opinion that, contrary to the belief of some in the Christian subculture, one can enjoy an adult beverage without being a drunken heathen.

Now, I want to be very clear that I fully recognize the power of addiction.  Addiction to alcohol and drugs is serious business that has the potential to destroy lives of individuals and families. If you have a drinking problem (or an addiction to any substance for that matter) I encourage you to get help.

So, again, “Grabbing a Beer with a Pastor” is not trying to convince anyone that they should or should not drink. I, like the UMC, support abstinence from alcohol and  encourage “judicious use” (moderation, self-control and social responsibility) from those who decide to have an alcoholic beverage.

I’m simply just being open and honest about where I’m at on this issue. And, it’s like my grandmother always said, “Honesty is the best policy.” Too many pastors and Christians try to hide certain practices. I am all for honesty. Some of the deepest theological discussions I’ve experienced have taken place in a pub, over a pint with friends. That’s the motivation behind this blog and podcast…creating a space for open and honest dialogue.

So, I hope you’ll continue to check out “Grabbing a Beer with a Pastor” both on the blog and the podcast. I hope you’ll pour yourself a pint, a cup of coffee/tea, or kick back a root beer or Coke Zero and enjoy this adventure!

*We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons. We support abstinence from the use of any illegal drugs. Since the use of illegal drugs, as well as illegal and problematic use of alcohol, is a major factor in crime, disease, death, and family dysfunction, we support educational programs as well as other prevention strategies encouraging abstinence from illegal drug use and, with regard to those who choose to consume alcoholic beverages, judicious use with deliberate and intentional restraint, with Scripture as a guide. (UMC Social Principles, Book of Discipline)

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