Two Christians fellas walk into a bar. Not only is it the best place to watch the game, but it is also a good place to meet those who need Christ most. Following in Christ’s steps (hangin’ with tax-gatherers and drunkards), these two guys pull up a stool at the bar. The bartender says, “What il ya have?” Having been down this road before, the two guys order a beer. They do this for two reasons. First and foremost, they like beer. They call it “Nectar from above” (they are from Oklahoma so cut them some slack). Second, it helps them should a witnessing opportunity arise. Not only does it make them feel a bit more relaxed, but, most importantly, it makes others at the bar feel more relaxed. The first time they went there, they just ordered water. After sitting there with their water, tracts, and Bibles decorating the table, smiling at all the passers-by, they soon realized that they were one step away from a honky-tonk plague. No one would talk to them. They found that having a beer in their hand was like a soothing balm for their personality. Besides, they love beer.
However, there is always the awkward situation when the bottle runs low and the bar-tender asks “Do you want another?” They don’t know how much is too much.
Christians fall all over the board on this issue.
Alcoholic Christians (drunk all the time): Some Christians are alcoholics who can’t get the problem under control. They drink nearly every day. They know its wrong, but they have accepted this as “their sin.” Others have anger issues. Some don’t share their faith. Many are gluttons for worldly possessions. These are alcoholics who drown out their sorrow and depression with a bottle.
Social-drinking Christians (drunk sometimes): Many Christians drink alcohol on “special” occasions. Whether it is a ball game, the staff Christmas party, an after work glass of wine (or two), or just a weekend, they are game. Every once in a while, they drink “too much,” but they would not consider this a sin since they believe the Bible’s primary prohibition is against being progressively controlled by alcohol. After all, Ps 104:15 says that God made wine for the purpose of making the “heart glad.” Yes, the Bible is against being a “drunkard,” but they don’t consider themselves “drunkards” since it is only occasionally that they get drunk and a “drunkard” is one who is always controlled by alcohol. Even in Eph. 5:18 where we are told not to get drunk, the verb is in the present progressive tense which may be understood as the continual act of getting drunk. As well, in 1 Tim. 3:3, the qualification for an elder is one who is not addicted to alcohol. So, to them, getting drunk from time to time is not sinful.
Gospel-driven drinking Christians (tipsy sometimes): Some Christians drink alcohol intentionally in order to open doors for the Gospel. They may or may not like alcohol themselves. Either way, they go to bars and social events where alcohol is involved in order to engage the unbeliever. They might even sponsor events where they provide the alcohol. “After all,” they think to themselves, “Wasn’t Christ a bartender at the wedding of Cana?” (John 2). In many places, they actually start churches in bars. While they are careful more about how much they drink, they don’t mind “feeling the effects.” They are drunk rarely but as they drink, they may have one, two, or three past the border of sobriety becoming “tipsy.” For them, while getting drunk is a sin, being “tipsy” is not.
Soft teetotalism (never drink themselves): Many Christians are teetotalists, meaning that they abstain from alcohol all-together. A “soft” teetotalist is one who personally does not ever drink, but does not think it is necessarily wrong for others. The reasons for the abstinence here vary. Many are recovering from their own addictions. Others have family members who have been deeply affected by alcohol. Some just don’t like the taste of alcohol or the feeling that accompanies drinking.
Hard teetotalism (no Christian should ever drink): There are quite a few Christians who not only abstain from alcohol themselves, but think that all Christians should abstain. “Wine is a mocker and strong drink a brawler and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Wisdom humbly stays away from alcohol. These believe that the effects of alcohol on individuals and societies are tremendously harmful to the Gospel. Christians should set the example by ensuring that they are always sober minded. Social drinking, even if just one drink, can cause others to stumble. Its best just to stay away all-together. For these, the type of alcohol offered today is much stronger than what was available in Biblical times, so any comparison is misleading.
Where do you fall?
If you are a drinking Christian, how much is too much? When has the line been crossed?
(I have also put a poll up about this).