Where Faith and Culture Collide

If you know me on a personal level, you know that I don’t drink alcohol.

Here’s a little bit of background:

I was raised in a Southern Baptist church that frowned upon alcohol consumption–at least public consumption of it. Who knows what happened behind closed doors, right?

My father became a pastor when I was fourteen and it was just kind of understood that alcohol and our family did not mix. When I became a teen and I encountered kids at school who bragged about getting drunk on the weekends, I chose to steer clear of them. They were “bad” and I wanted to be “good” so I stayed away.811074_42972383

I tried alcohol a few times as a young adult and it made me act pretty stupid, so I abstained from that point on. I dated a guy who got drunk at his company Christmas party, which I attended with him, and then he drove me home afterwards. I was stupid for getting in the car with him and for not volunteering to drive. He was beyond ignorant to risk my life and his for what wasn’t even a good time.

One of the first things I wanted to know about my husband when we started dating was where he stood on the whole alcohol dilemma. Our views were the same and we decided it would not be part of our household. To this day, the only alcohol that has entered our home has been the tiny bottles of whiskey that you get as Christmas gifts from business associates. Those bottles have been used to make “cures” for bronchitis and pneumonia.

682243_97419200Now before you go getting your feathers ruffled and thinking this is a post about the evils of alcohol, let me explain a little further my stance on the issue. Remember, I stated that the above information was part of my background.

There are alcoholics in the family.

There is a tendency toward dependence upon medications in the family.

There is a history of substance abuse making a mess of people that my children share genes with.

And my aunt was killed by a drunk driver.

Because of these things and because I can’t seem to watch one horse race on television or play one of those “drop a coin in the slot” games at arcades without wanting to sit and do it for the rest of the day, I personally have chosen to abstain from things that have the potential to be harmful and addictive. I am currently still working on my caffeine addiction, after all. And if you know me at all, you know that I’m silly enough all by myself and don’t need alcohol to help me out there.

So this is not a high and mighty post about the spiritual corruption that comes when people drink alcohol. It’s just a post to share my personal preferences and convictions. It’s also to stress that some of the views my parents and my childhood church had about people who drank alcohol were wrong. To say that someone who drinks is a bad person is outright un-Christlike.

However, Proverbs 21:17 does say, “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich,” so we need to be careful in all of our pursuits if they are not intended to honor the Lord.

Okay, so now to get to the real point of this post. I recently read an article entitled “Beer and the Pulpit—Why Churches Need to Talk about Alcohol“. This article brought up the very valid point that the church has failed us and our children by making this a topic of avoidance for the most part.712371_78012247

Now that I have two young adult children who are able to make grown-up decisions for themselves and face the consequences for those decisions, I realize that they need to be prepared for the things they’ll face out in the world. I attempted to pass along the “wisdom” my parents passed on to me but the thing is: that kind of wisdom isn’t really wisdom in the culture of young trendy people we have out there today. The church people I grew up around would have never left church on a Sunday night and gone out for drinks with church friends afterward. Today, it is a common occurrence and my children need to be aware of it so they don’t pass undue judgment on others.

To just say, “Don’t touch it. Don’t taste it,” is not explanation enough. My children are faced with a much larger world than I was. They have more temptations to face than I did at their age. So they must be informed about what the Bible says about alcohol. I see now that if I teach them as my parents taught me, I give them rules to follow that may not have any Biblical foundation. Yes, abstaining from all things that can cause problems in life might keep someone safe but if it causes isolation and narrow-minded thinking and judgment upon others, then how does that honor the Lord?

The common taboos for teens/young adults in the church world are: smoking, drinking, sex, and drugs. Of the four of those things, drinking alcohol happens to be the one that the Bible says is okay…in moderation. As long as no drunkenness occurs. And as long as it’s legal where you live. I think that’s where the legal age for drinking comes in handy because I can easily say that for myself, I was much more mature at 21 than I was at 16.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 – Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

The Bible doesn’t mention smoking and drugs. But those are things that tear down the temple of the Lord (our bodies) so I think it’s safe to say those would be two things I’d tell my children to stay away from. And since my dad smoked for most of my life, as did many of my relatives, and since cancer has not been a stranger to our family, I’m going to hold to my convictions on that one.

The Bible clearly says that sex is between a man and a woman who are married TO EACH OTHER so we’re not going to deal with that topic today.

As in everything, we should bring glory to the Lord. If we can’t do that by our actions, then we should abstain. I believe David Valentine hit the nail on the head in his article in Relevant Magazine when he said, “When you drink, drink for the glory of God. And when you abstain, do so for the glory of God. Enjoy His creation, but do not exploit it. This is the way of Jesus.”1366751_91583540

So back to alcohol and the Church’s responsibility not to shy away from the topic. I still choose not to drink alcohol and that is my choice to make. But if I remain narrow-minded and don’t address this topic, I am missing out on a great teaching moment. Being uninformed about anything can only lead to poor decisions and mistakes with possible regrets. As much as I would like to blink my eyes, click my heels together three times, and wave a magic wand to make alcohol and tobacco (among other things) go away, they won’t. So the best way to handle it is to share with your children (and your friends and family members when the opportunity presents itself) what the Bible says on these issues and not just your opinions. Help others make wise choices so that their faith can grow stronger.

Wine glass: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/811074

Group pic: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/682243

Teens drinking: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/712371

Bible: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1366751

Published by Sherri Wilson Johnson

I am a wife/mother/writer/speaker looking to be used by God!

6 thoughts on “Where Faith and Culture Collide

  1. Hard subject. I grew up hearing that if we allow a little in our generation, the next will allow more. I never want to cause a youth to stumble, “Well, Mrs. So and So drinks.” When and how do we determine drunk. Two glasses of wine, three?
    You are right, the idea isn’t to split hairs or become an older brother (prodigal son) but I wonder, how much drinking and tattooing will be a part of the church?

    1. Jennifer, it is a hard subject, indeed. I think as long as we tackle these issues with truth and with love, we can influence many. I have seen in my lifetime many changes in the “church” as far as Sunday services in a building goes, but the “Church” is still the same. No matter what it looks like as far as style, differences in attire, and culture trends, as long as the name of Jesus is being proclaimed, then God will be glorified. We’ve got our work cut out for us, that’s for sure. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Interesting that I read the Proverbs quote just this morning and used it in a scene in my current WIP. The May 13th Sports Illustrated has a sobering article following the timeline from birth to death of an NFL player killed in alcohol-related car accident. It illustrates how the foolish decision to drink and drive destroys lives. As you note, Sherri, the Bible’s admonition is not against alcohol but against drunkenness. Thanks for a thoughtful and though-provoking article.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on my post. I’m glad to know that there are other like-minded folks out there. If we can spread the word of truth over opinion to young people, maybe more lives will be saved and mistakes prevented. God bless!

  3. Good points, Sherri. I grew up in a family and church with very strict rules and ideas about Christian behavior. Some brought me alot of anxiety and pain as a young person. As a parent, I chose not to inflict that type of code on my children. I think open discussion and Bible study were more helpful to their Christian growth than church-made rules.

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