Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is it ever a sin to NOT drink alcohol?

Lots of people ask the question, "Is it a sin to drink alcohol?"

I want to ask a different question, "Is it ever a sin to NOT drink alcohol?"

First of all, right off the bat, I want to say, if you struggle with alcoholism, drinking alcohol is a sin for you. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “'I have the right to do anything,' you say—but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'—but I will not be mastered by anything." If alcohol controls you, you are a slave to it, which is a sin. We are to be slaves to only one, Jesus Christ. If taking a drink is going to cause you to sin, then don't drink.

Next, if you are under age 21 (or whatever the legal drinking age is), it is always a sin for you to drink alcohol. Romans 13:1-2 says, "Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." It's a sin to not follow the law. So no underage drinking.

Third, drunkenness is always sin. Anyone who occasionally drinks knows there are lines between being sober, being "buzzed" or feeling relaxed and being drunk. This is just my personal interpretation, but I consider being sober a green light, being buzzed or relaxed as a yellow light and being drunk as a red light. What I mean by that is if you are completely sober, you are not sinning. If you are buzzed, you have to proceed with caution and make sure that you are not setting yourself up to act in a sinful way or to ruin your Christian witness. Being drunk is an absolute red light. No Christian should drink to that point. There are many Bible verses that advise against drunkenness or being a drunkard. Don't go there.

Lastly, if you are someone that has serious health problems if you drink, such as it interacting with a medication or complicating an illness you have, physically or mentally, drinking is a sin. While this verse is talking about sexual immorality, 1 Corinthians 6:19 introduces the bigger concept of honoring our bodies by saying, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, not to mention, it enables you to do work for the kingdom of God. Don't harm your body.

With all that said, what about the rest of us who aren't alcoholics, who are over 21, who drink responsibly and feel no ill effect from it? Nothing in the Bible says we can't drink alcohol. In fact, there are places in the Bible where it suggests we do drink alcohol. We must ask ourselves, "is it ever a sin not to drink?"

Ecclesiastes 9:7 says to "drink your wine with a merry heart". Psalm 104:15 says that God gives wine that "makes glad the hearts of men". Proverbs 31:4-7 says that while it is unwise for rulers to drink wine, it should be drunk by those in anguish so that they may forget their poverty and misery. In Amos 9:14, God promises to bless the people by restoring their fortunes so they can plant vineyards and drink their wine. Jesus not only drank wine, but changed water into wine. In addition, Luke 7:33-34 shows that John the Baptist did not drink wine, but Jesus did and they still respect each other in their work (and were equally scorned by non-believers). In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul instructs Timothy to drink a little wine to settle his stomach.

I believe the answer is, no, it's never a sin to not drink alcohol, but it is a sin to not recognize it as a potential blessing from the Lord. The sinners here are not the people coming home from work and cracking open a beer while they play with their kids in the backyard until dinner is ready. The sinners in this instance are the people who are so ingratiated in the Christian culture that they wouldn't recognize Jesus or the Word of God if it hit them right in the face, and prefer the comfort of their own culture to the Truth of the Bible.

They will ironically wear their WWJD bracelets and condemn anyone who lets a drop of alcohol cross their lips, without recognizing that Jesus himself drank alcohol on many occasions and that God has blessed his people with it over and over again. The sinners are the ones who would shun a group of Christians drinking a few beers when they get together to watch a football game, while they instead huddle together in their church hall, gorging themselves on jello salad and fried chicken. The sinner is the one who thinks they are better than all those "drinkers" because they instead are sitting at home watching a Touched by an Angel marathon and drinking tea so sweet that it'll give you diabetes by just looking at it (can we say PRIDE???).

The perhaps biggest sin of all...what is that mentality saying to non-believers or new believers about the heart of a Christian?

The point of me asking the original question, "Is it ever a sin to NOT drink alcohol?" isn't so much a question about alcohol itself, as it is a call to examine our beliefs more closely. What do we accept without examination, simply because it's comfortable and everyone else believes it? What are we afraid to dig through the Bible about, lest it cause us to make an uncomfortable change in our convictions? When do we warp the Bible into supporting our beliefs when we should be changing our beliefs to support the Bible and the Truth about our Savior? Who do we allow to set the standards in our life?

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