I'm sure this discussion has come up over the years but since I'm starting this as a research discussion, I would like to categorize this topic into three groups: Are you a prohibitionist, an abstentionist or a moderationalist? Included with this answer, I would like to know where you live and type of church you attend. This will better give me an idea of the culture you live in. Also, is your belief, the belief of your church also.
Let me give a little detail on each although they seem to be self explanatory.
Abolitionist believes that all drinking is a sin.
Abstentionist believe, while drinking is not sinful but that all Christians should avoid drinking out of love for others and a desire not to cause anyone to stumble. They'll usually quote Romans 14:21 and 1 Cor. 8:1
Moderationalist teach that drinking is not a sin and that each person must let Christian conscience guide them without judging others (Romans 14:22) Drinking in moderation can be done to the glory of God just like eating. 1 Cor. 10:31
I think it is safe to say that all Christians agree that drunkeness is a sin. Deut. 21:20; Eccl. 10:17; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:18; 1 Perter 4:3
In the Bible, wine is associated with both drunkenness and joy. I'm pretty sure it was consumed during festivals. And while the bible forbids drunkenness, the definition of drunkenness is truly on a continuum. So it is certainly associated with a level of edification, but it's never worth it if excess drinking hurts yourself or others.
The sad and excessive end of that continuum was certainly experienced in the US prior to prohibition. I'm glad I didn't live back then - there were many ruined lives and familys on a very large scale (my own included). And there are negative effects to your body (liver for instance) if you drink too much.
But then you have to also consider that there are benefits to your heart from alcohol of all kinds, (not just wine). So I'm personally a moderationalist but also believe in deference when you know that your behavior could be stumbling block to a weak brother or sister who is in your midst. For instance, we have a good friend whom we don't drink in front of simply because he's just struggled with it and gave it up.
But I don't believe that applies to people who simply disagree. If a person believes in abstinence or abolition and they get in the faces of people who do drink in moderation, they are essentially trying to undermine the freedom we have in Christ. I wouldn't drink in front of them if they were offended or asked me not to, but I wouldn't give it up personally over that.
From those three categories I would put myself firmly in "moderationalist". I live in the UK and presently attend an Anglican church, where I suspect this view is in the majority; I previously attended a Baptist church, where I think more people would have put themselves in the abstensionist camp. Certainly we can have wine at social events in church in the present place whereas the baptist church was a dry building, based on the original covenants drawn up at the start of the twentieth century.
I am definitely a Moderationalist. I enjoy a drink, either with friends, work or church colleagues but we all know our limits.
It is interesting to note that I work for the Diocese of Rochester (part of the Church of England) and usually, but not always, everycelebration, farewell etc that I attend has alcohol available (wine or beer usually, rarely anything stronger). Indeed our current Bishop has been known to provide the drinks on more than one occasion!
However, having said that, I do know a few work colleagues who have given up the booze completely for a variety of reasons and really struggle if we have a social gathering in the pub over the road.
I'm afriad to say that drinking has become part of the culture of life in the UK. You just need to know your limits.
I am reminded of a quote by a good friend when asked if we wanted drinks at a restaurant:
"No thanks, we don't need anything from the bar. We're Christians...and we don't drink in front of each other."
I'm also reminded of what happened when the Baptist Convention showed up at the large hotel near my office. The hotel owner said that alcohol sales were zero in the bars and restaurants. But room delivery of alcohol was at an all time high!
That is too funny!
I was told (by US friends) if you go fishing with a baptist and don't want him to drink all your beer then invite another one along too.
I do hope that's *just humour*.
Moderationist here, English charismatic fundamentalist background, presently part of the church of England. Drinking wine and sherry is all part of social interaction among those that normally live in small rural communities, and while no-one would mind if you just drank orange juice, no-one is hitting the bottle at church gatherings either. It's all quite tame really. ;-)
My grandfather was teetotal but my parents, both deacons in the Baptist church we attended, would drink in moderation and were strongly opposed to drunkenness, considering it shameful and embarrassing.
Love it Stevo. Somehow I'm not surprised. Imagine the good fellowship they missed with each other.
I was raised strict Abolitionist, [to the extent that smelling alcohol was a sin as was having Scope mouthwash or vanilla extract in your house] but when I started reading and studying the Word in high school I found little support for that strict stance. That was in SW Michigan and the congregation was a Holiness style independent Pentecostal church.
In college I attended a Moderation congregation (that occasionally went a bit overboard) and I was considered a stick in the mud. Also in Michigan - Discipleship movement congregation.
I now attend a Messianic Jewish congregation in the Washington DC area. Also Moderation type. We fit well together on this subject.
I had a strong feeling most of my England/UK guys were moderationalists. The American church is where you see more diversity. I attend a church where the Pastor is more abstentionist. He knows it's not a sin but won't go there mainly because of the testimony before others and also because he never did it anyway. Even though he doesn't consider it a sin, he definitely doesn't recommend it. There is a no drinking rule to be on the worship team. The former church I was with didn't have any guidline against it. Of course over indulging was not permitted.
David, I figured the Washington DC area, New Jersey and many east coast people didn't have an issue with it also. But then I would assume there's a church around the corner from where you are that are abstentionist.
I was raised in the Abolitionist format, (Evangelical Free Church, Baptist, CMA background) to the point that cooking sherry would make a dish un-eatable.
Attending a Bible school in Europe made me confront the issue, and I drank my first alcoholic beverage there - white wine with fish - in the home of a Deacon at Sunday lunch (we were instructed by our school principle to eat and drink what is put before you so as not to offend our hosts). I still didn't prefer it, yet thought I had progressed to the point of where I could claim that while I didn't drink, I wasn't condemning of other Christians who did drink occasionally.
But I found that in fact I did consider “the others” as being less mature in their faith. More importantly, I also found it really difficult being around even non-Christians when they were drinking. So much for being able to associate with the lost! In reality, it was me who was lacking in maturity, given all the examples of the use of wine in the Bible.
I finally got over it by actually ordering a beer in a pub one night with my friends on the way to a movie. Surprise, surprise - I didn’t instantly go to hell!
I still rarely drink, and I’ll definitely moderate even that depending on whose company I’m in – just read in Romans last night that life isn’t about eating and drinking anyway. But now I’m at least comfortable to be around people who do drink. It only took 50+ years to get there…:)
I was also raised as an Abolitionist in a traditional church and it was against the rules at the Bible College that I attended. So for many years I didn't drink at all, but I have since come to the conclusion that it is ok in moderation because the Bible says not to be drunk, but it doesn't say not to drink at all. Jesus, himself, made some excellent wine at the wedding. So I think it is alright, but be careful not to drink in front of someone who may have a problem or be offended by it. So, at this point I would probably consider myself a modernist.
I also wonder about drinking because at what point do you become drunk? At what point does it become a sin? The intoxication issue can be different depending on body mass, etc. Is it when you feel a buzz or outright drunk?
I also have read that the priests in the Old Testament were not allowed to drink and I think the Bible also says something about Kings refraining from it as well.
To this day, I have rarely had a beer, but I know it's not a sin and I don't have a problem with other people drinking in front of me and I don't think any less of them for doing it. Part of my not drinking is also because my Aunt died very young because of alcoholism.
So, my conclusion is that drinking in moderation is not a sin, but it is probably better to stay away from it.
Ha ha - my grandmother was an prohibitionist who grew up during prohibition. Your question has always been looming the back of my mind.
She said you couldn't drink without getting drunk, so it was always wrong to drink. But then you have to understand the mentality of America before prohibition - a whole lot of drunkenness and wastedness going on. I might have been an prohibitionist as well during that era.