I think everyone can agree that alcoholism is a serious addiction and that it ruins lives. “According to the National Health Interview Survey more than 50% of the population aged 18 or older uses alcohol as a stimulant/depressant. That doesn’t mean they are all alcoholics, but the social trend is that more people drink than not.” http://alcoholismstatistics.net/
The issue of alcohol is a hot button with Christians – is it okay to drink some or should we abstain completely? On some things the Bible is crystal clear – don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery – and although some will try and twist the meanings with half truths and technicalities, these are absolutes. Telling facts that are all true while leaving out other facts to cause someone to believe something falsely is lying by omission, taking home pens and note pads from work is stealing, and sexual innuendos with a co-worker is adultery as defined by God. Clearly stated wrongs are not up for debate.
Other things, not directly addressed by the Bible, are subject to personal conviction. I am certain many will not agree with me on how I feel about this issue, and we certainly have the right to disagree. I don’t believe that, as Christians, we are completely forbidden to drink alcohol. I rarely do, but I might have a glass of champagne at Thanksgiving or a glass of wine when visiting friends and I believe that I am free to do so. The Holy Spirit certainly corrects me when I am wrong and I am comfortable with that. I know the Bible says not to be drunk, and I certainly adhere to that strictly. If your personal conviction is to abstain, you should. That’s your personal conviction and for you it is wrong. There is an exception to that, as outlined by Paul in the passage below from 1 Corinthians. In the event that indulging will cause someone else to stumble, Christians should not partake; then we sin for the very good reasons below:
But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:7-13 (NIV)
But what I am actually speaking of, with regards to the issue of consuming alcohol, is how some people factor the offering of alcohol at an event into their decision to even attend. I have heard bitter complaining at wedding receptions with no alcohol being served and have friends who will decline a party invitation that doesn’t include drinking. That’s a problem whether they will admit it or not.
Then there is the fascination with drinking. Even Christians eagerly await the birthday that will allow them to drink legally. They plan well in advance of that birthday to have that first drink. I suppose part of the fascination is human nature. Ever since Eve bit the apple, people have been drawn to the forbidden. It is my opinion that sternly forbidding anything makes it more attractive.
My husband and I try to allow as much freedom to choose as is prudent. My daughter is quickly approaching the legal drinking age and, as I said above, she is planning to indulge in her first adult beverage. While it is true that my personal beliefs regarding Christians and alcohol are moderation over abstinence, even if it were not, I would not forbid it. She is an adult and must make adult decisions. We have given her the foundation and she has the Holy Spirit as her constant guide. I trust Him fully.
Having said all that, alcohol has ruined many lives and most people know someone who has fallen prey to that beast and reaped the consequences of it and perhaps even lost their lives to it. Whatever your personal conviction, let the Holy Spirit guide you always and remember that anything you allow to control you is an idol. And that is sin.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17 (NIV)