Monday, May 18, 2009

moderation vs. abstentionism

I don't like the taste of alcohol. Any kind, that I know of. I haven't tried 'em all, and don't intend to. But throughout my college and young adult life, especially my days in sales, I had close encounters with many who who enjoy the stuff, and have sampled a few myself. All of 'em tasted gross to me, even times where I really really tried to tell myself something tasted kinda good. I'd much rather grab a 20 oz. of Vault, or even a ice cold green tea.

That is to say, this is not a topic I struggle with much personally.

I do not believe the Scriptures point us towards an understanding of alcohol as "sinful" or "evil", although it definitely can lead to sin, and be involved in it. There are warnings about how to approach it/respect it/not to abuse it, etc. For some interesting fodder on the history of Christianity and alcohol, click here.

Many young Christians today, both within and outside of Holiness denominations, are taking the stance of moderation. I think it's a legitimate view, and even shared it for a long time...although it's easy to share any stance when you don't even like the stuff.

As a member of a denomination, and again currently as I move towards ordination, I've made certain commitments that I believe can be helpful (albeit not required) to a lifestyle of following Christ. One of those more recent commitments, is to advocate abstaining from all alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

This is a personal decision and commitment, that to me came down to several obvious things. Do I enjoy it? Nope. Why do it then? To celebrate? Why does that method automatically = celebration, when you'd much rather do/eat/experience something you enjoy?

The only answer I could get was...well....other people/the world says this is how you enjoy/celebrate something. Not a good enough answer really.

The other side was a question asked by Donald Bastian, in his (looks really cheesy/tract-ish, but actually good material) book "Beer, Wine & Spirits: What's the Big Deal?". The question was, "What support do we owe believers (current and upcoming) who have (or will) battled alcohol and are seeking (or will seek) the life of sobriety?"

Abstaining, in that case, seems like a relatively simple denial of self, for the other.

Did Jesus and many other ancient believers enjoy beer and wine once in a while, in celebration of God's creation? Probably. Will we have beer and wine in the new creation? Most likely. Hopefully it'll taste better.

Until then, I'm choosing to abstain out of love for others, commitment to lead in a denomination that sets this choice as a goal to it's members, and also in large part because I think it's just gross.

And if you drink, you're probably thinking, "well shoot, that's cause he's just never tried _______" Truth is, I probably have. If not...guess I can wait until we've gotten past our fallen-ness to give it a go. :)


Thankful Paul said...

Hello! :)

Jake T said...

"Do I enjoy it? Nope. Why do it then?"

Best reason for not drinking.

If you do enjoy it, and can drink w/o putting yourself to sleep (metaphorically), I think as a Christian, you have a responsiblity to do so, to enjoy the goodness of God through his creation.

If you can enjoy it w/o numbing yourself to the rest of God's goodness (which is not necessarily easy).

pastorwick said...

"responsibility"? Not sure if I'd go that far. "Freedom to" maybe.

Monogenes said...

I like moderationism, because I hate others :). JK. But I don't think abstentionism is the only path as a logical step towards loving them. Maybe not enabling people to isolate themselves/cocoon from the rest of society?

Not sure, I try to avoid it when I think other people have a good reason for me to, but whenever else I just enjoy in moderation.

Is it a sin to board yourself up inside of "defined" Christianity with rules instead of embracing parts of Gods creation? We are not to be of this world, but we definitely are in it, and since it is his creation, we should thank him for the good things he has provided.

I know too many people who take it easy by not associating with anyone different than themselves (church activities, church friends, church etc), who believe things simply because they have been passed down to them or told they ought to. I think that the Bible should be our main basis for biblical living (whoa), and we should go about and love everyone as God loved us.

Not to say it creates a responsibility for us as active Christians to break other Christians out of their molds, but it is interesting when their maturity develops as a part of learning reasons for doing things instead of simply following protocol.