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Unread 07-28-2016, 09:56 AM   #1
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Alcohol Use

Before I say ANYTHING else I want to stress that I am NOT suggesting that the Bible prohibits alcohol use by believers. I personally do NOT think that it does. However, in light of Perry Noble's recent issues I have begun to seriously think about whether or not pastors should drink at all.

I admit that I like to have a drink every now and then and I don't think that I am sinning when/if I have one. I rarely take a drink now because I know that a good number of the people in our congregation have really negative beliefs and experiences with alcohol. The area I live in has a very high number of people with alcohol related problems. Truthfully, I believe I can successfully explain to my folks why consuming alcohol isn't a sin but I will never be able to separate the negativity associated with it or convince them that it's okay. That is why I have chosen to NOT drink here. I don't want anyone to have negative beliefs about me based on the prevailing attitude here.

What do you all think? Once again, I'm not asking if the Bible condemns drinking. I don't believe it does. I'm just wondering if it might be wise and beneficial to the Church if we (especially leaders) abstain.

Thoughts?

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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:29 AM   #2
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I say this as I glance at my growing liquor collection: the association between alcohol and drunkenness is so strong that to say it is a difficult line to tread would be an understatement. My friends back home know I seek to pursue faith love and righteousness, yet I will have a drink with them, knowing they are watching me. On the one hand, if I get drunk with them, they receive that to mean that drunkenness is okay in the sight of Christ. On the other, if I abstain entirely they may be turned away from the gospel because they know, as I do, that a person can drink without becoming drunk. So if I set that example to them (say I have only one beer and cut myself off after that from their sake, knowing I could have two and be okay), then they see my example and can understand it to be valid.

At the same time, I would rather abstain around other Christians in order to spur them on toward love and good deeds.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:34 AM   #3
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I do believe context is part of the issue. I KNOW the feelings associated with alcohol up here. I think it would be detrimental to drink while I am here.

FWIW...I don't think abstaining would turn anyone off unless it was accompanied by the attitude that all drinking is wrong. I have been offered a beer since moving up here and politely refused. I don't believed anyone took it the wrong way. Had I said, "Oh no, I'm a pastor and I don't drink" then I may have caused bad feelings.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm asking myself, "Do I really need to have that beer (or drink)?"

Once again, it's not a matter or wrong or right. It's more about trying to be wise.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:34 AM   #4
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Seems largely contextual.

In Europe it is definitely not frowned upon by Christians like it is in the US. I haven't met a Christian here, even among evangelicals, who would glance twice at another Christian drinking alcohol.

That doesn't mean there are not issues but surrounding alcohol, especially among youth. Nonetheless, it isn't close to as big a deal.

Pubs are places of sociality, not places where seedy characters go to weird things happen. It would be weirder if a Christian, especially a pastor, refused to visit one or have a pint with someone in his congregation. Unless he is an alcoholic or has had problems in the past.

Of course, on the flip side, this could mean that one would have a harder time admitting to problems with alcohol, I suppose.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
I do believe context is part of the issue. I KNOW the feelings associated with alcohol up here. I think it would be detrimental to drink while I am here.

FWIW...I don't think abstaining would turn anyone off unless it was accompanied by the attitude that all drinking is wrong. I have been offered a beer since moving up here and politely refused. I don't believed anyone took it the wrong way. Had I said, "Oh no, I'm a pastor and I don't drink" then I may have caused bad feelings.
Exactly! If someone is a jerk about it, it is almost as bad as throwing it in someone's face that they feel they have the freedom to drink.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Uptown Thrunk View Post
Seems largely contextual.

In Europe it is definitely not frowned upon by Christians like it is in the US. I haven't met a Christian here, even among evangelicals, who would glance twice at another Christian drinking alcohol.

That doesn't mean there are not issues but surrounding alcohol, especially among youth. Nonetheless, it isn't close to as big a deal.

Pubs are places of sociality, not places where seedy characters go to weird things happen. It would be weirder if a Christian, especially a pastor, refused to visit one or have a pint with someone in his congregation. Unless he is an alcoholic or has had problems in the past.

Of course, on the flip side, this could mean that one would have a harder time admitting to problems with alcohol, I suppose.
I think the culture one finds himself in definitely will have some impact on the decision.

Also, one's own personal toleration of alcohol should be considered.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:38 AM   #7
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Exactly! If someone is a jerk about it, it is almost as bad as throwing it in someone's face that they feel they have the freedom to drink.
That's another thing to consider. Some Christians arrogantly declare their freedom regarding alcohol in such a way that those who do abstain almost feel unchristian for doing so.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 10:52 AM   #8
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I'm heading home for the day so I probably won't respond anymore until tomorrow morning.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 11:23 AM   #9
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I have abstained my entire life. I come from a denomination which has had a long held hard line drawn, but is now turning. I am of the belief it is a liberty that varies based on every person. For some, it may be wrong and others it isn't. I abstain for a couple of reasons.

I don't want to have to explain myself to some that may hold a belief in total abstaining. For me, I saw it as something that I would give up when I become a pastor. I also have not had the desire. Plus, I have a tendency to over indulge and commit to something completely when I get a taste. If I have something in my hand, I will down it quickly and I could easily see myself becoming an alcoholic.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 12:13 PM   #10
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I come from a long line of folks who like their strong drink a little too much. That said, I drink very little more out of pragmatism than anything else. That said, some of my pastors are not concerned with having a beer or glass of wine at a social event, but are cautious that it wouldn't cause a stumbling block to others before they do it. That, in a southern baptist church that is a member of the Conservative Baptist association. We are so affected by our Prohibitionist past, it's hard to find a church that is unified on this topic.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 04:09 PM   #11
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I am Orthodox Christian, in church of tradition of Russia (though no longer under Russia).

We are often drinking of vodka and other spirits and of wine during holy Eucharist. This is okay, but not to be becoming drunk. Then is becoming scandal, and was it causing of scandal in 19th-century Russia? I THINK NOT.
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I'm being silly. But yeah. Because we have a tradition of regular accountability and confession to a spiritual father/parish priest, we're accountable to him and he can easily say to us "Hey, Ryan, you laid into the sauce a little too thick and made a complete fool of yourself at Pascha. I think you might have a problem, and should avoid it for the time being".

It's not ipso-facto sinful - Psalm 104 says that God gives wine to 'gladden the heart of man'.

The problem is when we get a little too 'glad' with the wine.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 04:30 PM   #12
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I don't drink at all - partially because my grandma promised all her grandchildren a quantity of money in her will if we abstained from drugs and alcohol (though I'm not sure of the actual specifics of that), partially because I'm worried about drinking too much (I have a tendency to do that with food or drink if I like it) and largely because I just don't think it's necessary.

My non-Christian friends know I don't drink, but looking back I may have said things that may have made it seem like it was a "weird Christian thing". Having a drink is a pretty Australian thing, so it's common in Christian circles here (to drink responsibly), but I know many in my Church don't drink very often (and if they do, it's wine).

But yeah, I don't see the point. It's cheaper and easier to just have a Coke instead. Also I hate the alcohol-y smell most pubs have and the general smell of most alcohol I've been around.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 05:13 PM   #13
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Thanks for the responses.

As one who has overindulged in the past I am thinking it may be best for me to just leave it alone even though I haven't done that in a very long time. Also, given the prevailing attitudes up here I would rather not have to continually explain or defend myself to both Christians and non-Christians.
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Unread 07-28-2016, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leboman View Post
Thanks for the responses.

As one who has overindulged in the past I am thinking it may be best for me to just leave it alone even though I haven't done that in a very long time. Also, given the prevailing attitudes up here I would rather not have to continually explain or defend myself to both Christians and non-Christians.
At times i abstain because of culture or because of the influence i have at that time. Other times i drink but never to the point where i lose control.
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Unread 07-29-2016, 07:14 AM   #15
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Alcohol is a liberty that comes with a lot of baggage.

The benefits of alcohol are a gift from God that should be received with thanks, but these benefits are not to be abused. The Bible gives recreational and medicinal uses for alcohol, but just like any other substance it can be harmful if abused. One MUST tread lightly when consuming alcohol as abuse can lead to addiction, strained/torn relationships, damage to the body, or causing a brother to stumble.

The major piece of the alcohol issue is the conscience. Even though God lays out the exact benefits and warnings of how Christians are to handle alcohol, many people still believe it is a sin to consume it for any reason. Paul would call these men the weaker brother. Dismissing their conscience can cause the weaker brother to sin by:

1. Judging the stronger brother who glorifies God in his consumption of alcohol.
2. Going against his own conscience to partake in a liberty that he is not free to partake in.

So.. Should pastors abstain from drinking?

Yes and no. Pastors hold a very high representation of Christ and example of how Christians should live. I personally don't have a problem with them drinking or even telling others that they do drink. They shouldn't hide it from the congregation as that might become an even bigger scandal later on (...discretion, I guess). When the topic comes up or confronted by a brother, they should speak the truth of the Word about alcohol: the benefits, the warnings, and the issue of liberty vs conscience. Ultimately, if a pastor's conscience forbids him from drinking, he should abstain.

Should the people abstain from drinking?

Yes and no. In situations where drinking might seem inappropriate (listen to your conscience) don't crack one open. If you are around a brother where alcohol is a stumbling block, don't drink. But, if you're around those of the same convictions, by all means, drink to the glory of God. Enjoy a gift of God together. Crack open a nice cold Stone Go-To IPA open after a long hot day at work. Share a bottle of Evil Twin Even More Jesus with the wifey next to a fire watching a movie. Just don't abuse it. Again, the conscience is the ultimate factor.

Abstinence or partaking in alcohol is rarely cut and dry. Each situation is different. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that if you can partake to the glory of God, go for it; but if you feel that God is more glorified in your abstinence, glorify him with some Chick Fil A sweet tea.
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