It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes
your brother to stumble. (Romans 14:21 ESV)
Ours is a generation that is celebrating its freedom found in Christ’s redeeming grace. We bask in that freedom and don’t tolerate what we consider to be the prudish legalism of our parents and grandparents. In light of a Galatians' scenario, this attitude can be very healthy. We are fools to think that we can merit God’s ongoing favor and grow up in Christ through our own squeaky clean life with the addition of manmade rules. However, as the Galatians discovered, it can be very destructive as well when the children of God become too cavalier in their living. Remember the apostle Paul’s words:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Galatians 5:13-15 ESV)
Alcohol definitely falls into the current category of “don’t touch that!” You will find yourself immediately silenced and put in your place by well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ if you even suggest that you don’t imbibe. They correctly state that the Word of God does not prohibit drinking alcohol, only drunkenness. So, biblically, it is OK to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work.
I’m wondering, though, if we aren’t too flippant or careless in our Christian liberty in regard to our consumption of alcohol. Do we need to balance our freedom in Christ with Christ’s love which turns our attention to the needs
others before we think of our own privilege to have a beer (or two or three)? I believe the obvious answer is “yes” and offer these facts and questions as way to prevent us from being led astray into foolishness by wine as the proverb warns.
· For a 180lb. man, serious impairment begins after two drinks and is legally drunk after four. A 120lb. woman experiences serious impairment after one drink and is legally drunk after two.* Obviously, Paul and Timothy didn’t need to worry about having their donkey or chariot pulled over by the local police because of erratic driving outside of Corinth. We, however, break the law and jeopardize the lives of our family and other drivers when we get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. And what happens when we receive the crisis call, but can’t go to minister and encourage because we’re too buzzed to drive? That apology is pretty hard to swallow by the one on the other end (no pun intended).
· There are so many around us (family, friends, co-workers and church members) that have struggled with alcoholism (the sin of drunkenness) for years. How can we coldly and callously think that that’s not our problem? Our drinking does affect the recovering alcoholic and hinders him from staying sober. We, for the sake of our “freedom in Christ,” are destroying the work of God when we think it’s not our responsibility. The love of God is not reigning within us if this is the case.
· In our American binge culture, is drinking frequently the better part of wisdom? Self-control is a central part of
Christian character (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Gal. 5:22-23)) and difficult to live out with the constant bombardment of media and friends telling us to hold nothing back. Are we really man (or woman) enough to say, “I’ve had enough?”
Whatever your decision, may it be guided by the truth of Scripture and let’s remember the admonition of the Holy Spirit: The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:7-8 ESV)
*Information accessed from the Blood Alcohol Content Calculator (http://www.ou.edu/oupd/bac.htm) .