Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drunkenness in Modern Christianity

I’ve been thinking about alcohol recently. That’s not as bad as it sounds. I haven’t suddenly become an alcoholic. Beer smells like pig slop. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to drink the stuff and yet, people do. Aside from the fact that people are drinking such nasty stuff, it interests me that so many Christians have taken to the stuff. Today, it’s hard to believe that there was once a time in the United States that we passed an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” It was later repealed, but there was enough support among the several States at the time to make it the law of the land. How strange that today you would have a hard time getting many church people to support such a law.

Today, the trend seems to be that many Christians are not only unopposed to other people drinking, but they are actively supporting the use of alcohol. Their argument for its use is usually along the lines of “the Bible doesn’t prohibit alcohol” or “what about Jesus turning the water into wine?” And what can I say, the Bible doesn’t prohibit the use of alcohol and in some places mentions instances where it has its purpose (Proverbs 31:6). There are some exceptions to that statement. The Bible does say that preachers aren’t to be given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7) and it says that it isn’t for kings and princes(Proverbs 31:4, 5). The principle is that those in leadership must have a clear head or they will lead people astray.

It is tempting to take off on the argument that the alcohol in Bible times was much less intoxicating than what we have today. Today, one drink is enough to intoxicate some people while the Bible talks about “much wine” intoxicating people. As true as that is, it comes down to legalism. The argument seems to be over whether the Lord out and out prohibited alcohol usage. Those of us who would rather Christians didn’t drink would like to find a place where he did and those of us who would like to drink want to show that he didn’t. Either way, it comes back to the law.

But hold on. Suppose you happened to meet an engineer who helped design your car and he told you that while the manual says you don’t need the high octane fuels, some of their tests showed that the car had much better gas mileage with the higher grades. Assuming you trust this guy, don’t you think you would at least try the higher octane fuels? Sure you would. You aren’t required to use them, but it might be in your best interest to do so.

Now, God is more trustworthy than any engineer. Unlike an engineer, who may have to rely on testing done in a lab, God knows your future. God knows human nature better than we do. He knows what is best for us. While the Bible doesn’t give us an out and out prohibition of the use of alcohol, it makes it very clear that we’d be better off if we didn’t even look at the stuff (Proverbs 23:29-35). “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red…” Forget about trying to argue over whether it is legal for us to drink alcohol or not, God says it isn’t good for us. With all the wisdom that God has offers us advice, we ought to take it. We reject that advice at our own peril.

To put it as simply as I can. It doesn’t matter whether the Bible outlaws alcohol or not. It doesn’t matter whether we are under law or under grace. The all-knowing God says we’d be better off if we didn’t drink alcohol. That is reason enough for us to stay away from it.