I’ve written before on my theology of beer. But, with a recent post on a blog I frequent, in discussing varying views on alcohol, one commenter said his pastor preached a sermon where he offered these 3 positions (backing it with the listed passages of Scripture below):
- Prohibitionist – all drinking is a sin and alcohol is evil (Eph 5:18; Prov 20:1; Prov 23:29-35).
- Moderationist – drinking is not a sin and Christian conscience must guide each person (Psalm 104:14-15; John 2:1-11; 1 Tim 5:23; Matt 11:19)
- Absentionist – drinking is not sinful but choosing to avoid it is the wisest choice (1 Thess 5:22; Matt 5:13-16; 1 Cor 3:16-17)
While the prohibitionist view espoused above wrongly uses the verses referred to in coming to such a conclusion, I actually believe all 3 views miss something in the bigger picture.
Thus, I would espouse a 4th view, mainly that of celebration.
I love this passage, one people never really know exists:
And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. (Deut 14:24-26)
Though some like to quote portions of the old covenant law as a moralistic code for today, I’m not sure this passage will be so freely quoted. Anyways…
And, though one might want to argue that wine is grape juice (which we all recognise as silly conjecture), one cannot get around what strong drink refers to in this passage. Even more, the beautiful thing is that this is all in the midst of a big celebration with the bringing in of the tithes! It was a celebration of eating and drinking, even drinking fermented wine and strong drink.
Not only that, but consider the wedding at Cana. These people had already had a good amount of wine and Jesus still busts out another 150 gallons (550 litres) or so of wine (maybe a pointer to the celebration at the marriage supper of the Lamb).
It’s all about CELEBRATION, which I suppose we (me included) are not so good at. Quiet times tend to underline our Christian status today. But celebration was a major factor in Hebrew-Jewish life.
Sometimes, or maybe most times, we are more boring than the God we confess as our Lord. I am by no means some rebellious punk saying nothing matters on this issue and we should do as we please without thoughtful reflection, being overly filled with alcohol consumption. That is NOT my point!
But, at times, when the word moderation is suggested, and biblically argued for, I think it can come forth from a desire to actually bridle what God desires. We tend to embrace something only just enough. But God desires celebration to be part of our lives. And what better way than with fermented drink.
Feel free to celebrate! And feel free to celebrate with fermented drink! It is important to the heart of God.