Perhaps one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “Do you believe it is always wrong for a Christian to drink alcoholic beverages?” For many years, I taught and believed that the Bible taught unequivocally that alcohol should not be consumed by Believers. In order to defend that position, Scripture would often be twisted to make it say things it simply did not say. Eventually, I would reach the point when I would refuse such tactics as theologically and intellectually dishonest and philosophically unnecessary. Simply put, I don’t believe that Jesus turned the water into Welches, but into real wine — and probably mighty fine wine at that. I do not believe that using wine for medicinal purposes was banned…in fact, in both the Old and New Testament, there are passages that indicate that in that time in history, alcohol may have been the best “medicine” available — though one would have a hard time making that case today and still maintain their intellectual integrity in the process.
That said, I am a tee-totaler. I simply do not drink. I’ve been called a legalist because I don’t, but frankly, I’ve reached the conclusion that for many, any one who holds a position with spiritual overtones that is MORE conservative than them makes the other person a “legalist”. Conversely, if it is LESS conservative, they are considered a “liberal”. Both views are silly. In my mind and conviction, I do not find using alcohol something that I should do. So I don’t. If you reach a different conclusion and don’t violate Biblical edicts regarding drunkenness or addiction or moderation, then I really am not interested in engaging you in debate. It’s just not that important to me to insist that you agree with me. In my own mind, I’m convinced that it simply isn’t for me. I respect your position; please respect mine. That includes not asking me to pay for the alcohol of others at meals out, bringing into my home or using it in front of my children. In that area, as the head of my home and accountable to God for the influences in my family, I would ask respectful deference. I certainly would yield to others wishes if/when roles were reversed.
However, I’m not just a person in the audience. By virtue of my calling and public ministry, I do get asked about such things frequently. So, in the interest of having a place on this blog to which I can refer people with questions about the topic or who are curious as to what principles I feel are in play, I will offer the following Five Reasons Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol. Feel free to think on them, comment on them, study them for yourself and then ask yourself what is best for a Believer. I think it is unwise to give such a topic no thought. Many lives, homes and reputations have been destroyed by alcohol. Even those who exercise their Christian libery to imbibe often do so for reasons that I find suspect — like to cope with stress, to relax, to unwind. But again, I’m not interested in lengthy debates on the topic.
So, here’s my rationale….for better or worse. Now when someone asks me this question, I can just refer them to this Blog article.
Five Principles of Discernment Regarding Drinking
1. Is this habit forming? I Corinthians 6:12
Principle: Believers should avoid anything that results in a loss of self-control.
2. Could it lead to excess? Ephesians 5:18-21
Principle: Believers are to be marked by moderation so that our consistency will point others to Christ.
3. Could this cause someone to stumble? Romans 14:21
Principle: Believers should be willing to yield their “rights” to Christ so as not to be a hindrance to others.
4. Could this harm my Christian testimony? Romans 14:16
Principle: Believers should guard their Christian testimony by rejecting anything that would harm it.
5. Am I certain that it is right? Romans 14:22-23
Principle: If you are in doubt or sense conviction about something, then don’t proceed. Otherwise, it is sin.