Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Proverbs 31:4-6

"It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts."

I have taken a few days off because I did not think I was in a place to be publishing things on the internet about the Bible. It's been one of those starts to the week that make me feel like I am not qualified to even HAVE a Bible, much less expound on verses. But I need to come back to this study. This is the exact chapter I need right now.

On these verses--I think they are quite wise reflections on what the use of alcohol should be, or would have been before medication. The dying and the depressed are covered in these verses as people who should use alcohol. Once again, these were the days before medication when we could "make someone comfortable" on their death bed, and before anti-depressants. Also, I do not see that these verses are talking about Christians in particular, but those people who may not have God and need comfort. That of course brings up the issue of Christians and depression. I really do not know what my thoughts are on the subject! I have gone back and forth so much and have come to the opinion that it's God who is the judge, not I, and that I cannot say that Christians should not take drugs for depression. The only thing I know for sure is that God CAN cure anything (not sure about the issue of trials and such), and that everyone needs a little sunshine and a good fish oil. lol. Whew, that was quite the rabbit trail.

So, my extra-Biblical opinion on alcohol is that Christians should not consume alcohol. I say extra-Biblical because while I believe strongly that the principles are very clearly in the Bible that the use of alcohol is not wise for most people, there is no verse I can go to that says "Christians should never drink". But verses like the above abound. I can see through these verses that it's easy to drink *juuuust* enough to be of impaired judgement. I am called to be under the influence of the Holy Ghost. If I am under the influence of alcohol, I am NOT under the influence of the Holy Spirit (notice, I did not even get to "drunk" because I think we can all agree that being drunk is wrong). So many bad decisions are made when people are only "under the influence" of alcohol because of the lowered inhibitions. I am to ALWAYS be on my guard, to ALWAYS protect my testimony. I have enough problems doing that *without* the effects of alcohol (however subtle). So maybe I'll get flamed here, but I am hoping that my convictons and opinion will at least be respected--dare I say even considered?

Regardless of one's opinion of Christians and alcohol, these verses are very clear that I am not to engage in behavior that puts the wisdom of my decisions at risk. This applies much more so if I am in charge of anyone else.


Luke said...

As one who finds no pleasure in alcohol, and hates the taste, I have no problems avoiding it entirely [smile].

And, yes, I completely agree: Christians should never come under the influence of alcohol to where it even begins to impair their judgment. With you there.

...but I take issue with "black and white" teaching--which is odd because I'm a very black and white kind of guy [smile]. The Bible has far too many instances where alcohol is promoted as a good thing for me to ever say that Christians should not enjoy it in moderation and wisdom. Just a few examples:

1. Timothy is ordered by Paul to drink a little wine every day for his heart.
2. Jesus drank wine.
3. Jesus produced 120-180 gallons of wine as his first miracle (and it was "good wine" too) as a fulfillment of the prophecy that the coming of Kingdom of God would include lots of good wine.
4. Many churches continue to use wine in their communion time, which works for me (though my church does the grape juice thing).

Also, I see Scripture as teaching that the motivation is one of the major aspects of morality, not the action. Imbibing alcohol is no the problem, it is the outcome--getting drunk--and the reasoning--escapism?--that determine the morality of the activity. So, for those who would drink to the point of influence, or drink to escape, then, yes: Don't.

But for those who enjoy the taste and the spiritual significance of wine... I see nothing wrong with it.

My two cents. I hope you don't feel flamed or disrespected at all. I merely wanted to point out what I have come to see and continue this discussion. Cheers [smile].


Cherishing My Days said...

Thanks for your perspective, Luke! NO, I do not feel flamed, and welcome the different take on this, because, like I've said at the beginning of this study, I am no expert here (which is why I'd really prefer my thoughts to not be labeled as "teaching". I'm really just putting down my reflections as I read).
I am a black and white kinda person too, and when I was younger you'd have never gotten me to accept that there was any gray area on this subject, which is why I call my beliefs "extra-Biblical". In getting older I have come to accept that there is *some* gray in Christianity. So here are my personal thoughts on what you said. It's my conviction after studying awhile, but not one I'd stake my life on. ;)

With alcohol: when is one "under the influence"? The problem with it is that the drinks do not have an immediate effect. So by the time someone has drunk enough to make them "a little loose", they may be on to their next drink. At what point is one's judgement impaired? I would argue that even one drink "relaxes" a person.

As far as the instances in the Bible where "it is promoted as good":
1. Paul tells Timothy that "a little wine is good for the belly" (not heart, at least not in my version). After studying traditional food and cultures for about 5 years now, I know there to be 2 kinds of wines. One is the alcoholic kind that we know so well. But the other is a probiotic wine made by fermenting the juice for 24-48 hours. Every traditional culture has one--russians make theirs out of beets, some make theirs out of grains, many make theirs out of grapes. I have made some myself and it is good. It is also exactly what someone would call "good for the belly" because it is probiotic (good germs that fight bad germs in our colons), and very healthy. I do not believe the Bible can contradict itself, so for it to say "do not look upon the wine when it is red" and to say "a little wine is good for the belly" means that we are talking about 2 different wines.
2. I see no reason to believe that this probiotic wine is not what Jesus both drank and made at his first miracle. For me it's very easy to believe that this "instant wine" was a probiotic fermented juice. The father at the wedding recognized it as "good wine". Would he have been able to do that after partying for hours with alcoholic wine? I do not think so. But there again, where Jesus is, anything can happen. :)
4. I do not agree with the use of wine in churches for communion. However, since they are not my churches, I really have nothing much to say about it.

I totally, and I do mean totally, agree that motivation should be taken into consideration for actions. As my friend Kristin always says "it's the heart behind the matter" that is most important. However, I could never with a clean conscience take into my hand anything that might pollute my motives. Something that could cloud my judgement when I really was not even aware. I have many friends who do/have done stupid things when they were not even aware that alcohol was having an effect until the act had already been committed. This is why I believe the Bible states "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise", because I might not be in control when I think I am, and if I kid myself about the effects of alcohol, I am asking for trouble.

Thanks again for your comment! :)