As promised last post, I will share my personal alcohol policy. I will at times have a beer or a glass of wine, though I am very intentional about where and when and with whom. This is a personal conviction, which I trust I have arrived to under the leading and guiding of the Spirit and the authority of the Word as best as I have understood up to this point in my life (my viewpoint has changed from earlier points in my walk, and could change again at the Spirit's prompting in the future.) Because this is my own conviction - and not an explicit mandate from Scripture - how I conduct myself regarding this issue is a matter of obedience for me. I will give you situational contexts to that, but let me first start with two foundational reasons why I feel that is okay for me:
- I have no family or personal history of alcoholism or alcohol-related abuse (this is not to say someone of like circumstance is not susceptible to alcoholism - but I would advise that those who have such a history, either personally or familialy, to completely abstain from alcohol as there is an exponentially generally greater chance they could succumb to that disease or temptation. Often as well there is a hightened emotional charge accompanying this issue for individuals who have dealt personally with alcohol abuse in any form. It simply seems wise for one then to completely abstain and forego further alcohol-related trauma.)
- I have simply come to enjoy the taste and craft of certain alcoholic beverages and there are times when I feel it is appropriate to enjoy them (but not all times are appropriate and even then, obviously in moderation and never out of context with the Scriptures - I will explain more later).
Situational contexts that I keep in mind, though, include:
- I do not drink alcohol in the presence of non-Christian people. I do this because there is a strong cultural stigma in our culture regarding alcohol that I feel I should be sensitive to. I would rather not open the possibility for a questionable impression, and therefore discredit in any way my witness. The only exceptions may be individuals who are long-time friends with whom I am confident my witness or credibility as a disciple of Christ is not in question over the issue.
- I do not drink in front of Christian brothers or sisters who I know have been deeply and negatively affected in some way by alcohol abuse in their past or currently struggle with it.
- I do not drink in front of Christian brothers or sisters who I do not know well enough to say whether or not my actions will be a stumbling block to them.
- I generally do not have more than two drinks in a sitting. I feel that is an appropriate limit to set unless enjoyment become overindulgence. Concerning how much alcohol is 'acceptable' to drink, I often hear Christians debate over whether it is permissable or not to get buzzed - but not all-out drunk - on alcohol. Too many people seem to try to find out where "the line" is by seeing how close they can get to it before crossing it. That mindset is foolish and dangerous at best. Far better to approach with discernment and caution, if at all; God has not left His stance on drunkeness unclear by any means. He has drawn a very clear line - take heed in dancing around it lest you cross it.
- I do not ever drink to "take the edge off" or with the intent of altering my mindset, mood, etc.
Given these stipulations, the times I actually partake are, generally, few and far between and usually within the walls of my own home. I would reiterate that these guidelines (apart from the biblical condemnation of drunkedness) are personal convictions - it is a matter of obedience for me to follow them, but I do not necessarily expect all others to have arrived at the exact same conclusions. There are, however, specific guidelines that I do expect any believer partaking of alcohol to follow. I will share these next post.
Continued next post...