Booze and the Baptist…

Posted: January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

   As I mentioned in my last post, I’m just not a very good Southern Baptist. Or, more accurately, I’m not a very good Southern Baptist according to SBC tradition.

   One of what could potentially be many examples of this is my view on consuming alcohol. You know… booze, the hooch, firewater, the sauce, aqua vitae, the hard stuff. Frankly, I see no proof that the Bible condemns drinking such adult beverages.

   Sure, people have their arguments about wine in the Bible having a lower alcohol content or people diluting it with water. Sure. Maybe. Honestly I have my doubts, but that’s not the point. The fact is, I cannot find enough evidence to take the same hardline stance against alcohol consumption that the SBC historically has.

   To clarify, I am not talking about getting poo-faced or drinking until your armpits smell like gin. I’m talking about a drink after work with friends, a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer (or two) at the ballpark (although you may need to take out a loan to purchase said beers). Naturally these scenarios do not apply to lightweights that start seeing flying pink elephants and singing Cher karaoke after one PBR. We’re referring to grown-ups here.

   So what’s with the SBC’s stance then? Well, the fact is there wasn’t always such a stance. For that matter, alcohol consumption was nothing less that common amongst Christians for most of Christian history. Some of the iconic figures of alcohol innovation were indeed Christians, including clergy. So, what changed?

   In the early half of the 1800’s there was a little thing called the Temperance Movement that basically tried to rid society of booze as a whole. It was actually quite effective, at least in limiting the sale and transport of alcohol. From this came Teetotalism, which was a full abstinence from any and all alcoholic beverages. It was this mindset that infiltrated several denominations, although many soon lost their gusto for it. But not the good ol’ Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC officially denounced strong drink in 1896 (with the order to excommunicate anyone known to imbibe or sell any form of libation) and have largely held onto the stance ever since.

   What’s my angle? I really don’t have one from a personal perspective. I’ve never been much of a drinker. I’ve historically been a fan of a shot of tequila (no salt or lime, please and thank you) or whiskey here and there, but that’s about it. I suppose if I have an angle, it’s this: We in the SBC have, for far too long, used the Bible to support a stance that the Bible simply does not support, and that needs to change.

FACT: The Bible does not condemn the responsible, moderate consumption of alcohol.

FACT: The Bible does strongly condemn drunkenness. Numerous times.

   That, in my opinion should be our stance, otherwise we’re sort of just being legalistic jerk-bags who people just roll their eyes at. What about you? What do you think? Comment and let me know.

   Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.Image




  1. Jon Moody says:

    Any thoughts on the Christians using marijuana? It is becoming legal at a fast rate and the Bible takes no hard stance against it. If Biblical principles themselves cannot be used from your viewpoint in making a case against alcohol, I’m guessing they can’t be made against marijuana either…which would make it o.k.? Also, what’s your thoughts on a cooler or keg at the church fellowship meals, and what age should the youth have access? Would it be o.k. for the pastor to take a beer to the pulpit instead of a bottle of water? I once had a church planter want me to be part of a ministry that included Jack Daniels and gambling…because he didn’t believe the Bible spoke against them. I recently read an article that stated no Christian ever said “Wow, I feel more Christlike” after drinking a beer. While the debate rages on, these questions bring a “hmmm, something doesn’t seem right” and causes me to ask if alcohol though the ages has been used as a tool by God to bring glory to His name or used as a tool of Satan to the one whose main goal is to steal, kill, and destroy? It’s not hard to determine that I believe Christians should abstain from any substance that could open the door to so much potential ruin…maybe it happened when alcohol broke my family apart at age 10, or when I notified parents that their son was dead because of a drunk driver while in law enforcement. However, I think my real conviction came when I was transformed by God’s grace and wanted to be so controlled by Him, that I didn’t want to cause others to stumble and put away any perceived freedoms for the sake of Him, especially during our time as missionaries in Africa. I appreciate your thoughts on dealing with the other side of the spectrum…thanks.

    • benjamindennis says:

      As Paul said, and I paraphrase, “Just because you can doesn’t mean it’s a good idea”. As Christians, anything that hurts our testimony is simply a bad idea. The argument isn’t that we should drink, it’s that when the Bible isn’t clear on the matter, it shouldn’t be divisive. I suppose the same would apply to marijuana (if made legal). Though, let it be said that I don’t have much of an opinion on the matter.

  2. Richard Earl says:

    John the Baptist did not drink alcohol as a beverage.

  3. Jon Moody says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

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