The title is intentional for several reasons. One, I wanted it to catch attention. And, two, if you read nothing else I say here, the title is all you need to read.
I haven’t written for many months, but I try very hard not to blog reactionarily. I assure you I have labored over this. I have begun this article multiple times and left it. I have no one specifically in mind when I write this. Writing or teaching a topic with people in mind is rarely helpful. That kind of Bible-sniping doesn’t typically address main issues so much as a personal nerve that a few people (or one person) may be hitting. So I’m tackling this topic because:
- It’s too common. Honestly, the amount of people who do this (I’ll define “this” soon) blows my mind.
- I’m a millennial. It’s mostly millennials doing this and I believe it to be a common millennial blindspot.
- I’m a pastor. This burdens me greatly. I will explain why soon.
So, what is the issue I’m addressing? It’s in the title, the continual and intentional attention drawn to the drinking of alcohol. I once attended a massive (about 6,000 people) evangelical conference that I greatly enjoyed. The conference had an app and within the app there was a social media service. I scrolled through and there were countless pictures of people’s craft brew, descriptions of the best bars around the conference center, and a few martinis in the mix (pun intended). The first thought in my mind, “why would anyone need to do that?” I rarely get on social media and don’t see someone’s drink on a story or post. Why?
Now, let me be clear, this is not an article attacking or defending my position on alcohol. In my reading of Scripture, wine in the Old and New Testaments was alcoholic. Paul told Timothy to drink wine and the wine was fermented. It was watered-down, but it was still wine. Therefore, I do not believe that the act of drinking alcohol is sin nor do I believe it is a sinful substance, otherwise Jesus sinned and Paul told Timothy to sin. I believe that the posture of the Bible towards alcohol is typically cautious. A basic reading of Solomon, for example, in Proverbs should cause great seriousness and reflection in our decision regarding alcohol.
Bragging about self is always a sin. Bragging about self, even if it is true, is a sin. Bragging about Christian liberties is a sin. Bragging on Christ, or God, however, is our calling. Therefore, bragging is literally the opposite of living our existence because it points the finger to ourselves, and we cannot draw attention to God if we live drawing attention to ourselves. Boastfulness isn’t an immature annoyance, it is egregious wickedness.
On bragging that you drink alcohol.
If drinking isn’t a sin, but bragging is, bragging that you drink is a sin.
Two final considerations…If you read nothing else, read this, please.
- Private liberty
The church of Christ is made up of differing liberties and levels of spiritual maturity. We must constantly evaluate our liberties, but if we enjoy a liberty that we are “convinced in [our] own mind” is appropriate but others may not, is it not reasonable to enjoy that liberty in such a way that certainly won’t cause offense? Paul addresses this in 1 Corinthians 8 regarding meat offered to idols. Implicit in the text, is that Paul would personally have no problem eating the meat, but wouldn’t in order to avoid offense (Vv. 7-13 specifically). Again, I ask very simple questions, why do you need to do this? Is it possible that you could drink without posting it? What does it accomplish? Who does it help? Which leads me to my second consideration.
- Pastoral love
As aforementioned I’m a pastor. I’m not the angry type. This topic, though, angers me. Want to know why? Because I have to text church members on Sunday afternoon who missed church Sunday morning because they were hungover. They hate that they drink destructively. They weep because they feel trapped. They text me with shaking hands begging me to let them drink a beer. And here comes a social media post from a “stronger” Christian, glorifying their liberty to drink a Saturday marg. Think about it, Paul wouldn’t go waltzing into a first-century house-church, boldly exercising his meat-eating liberty for everyone to see, knowing it would offend and hurt. He said so (1 Cor. 8:13). Just imagine for one-second your post tempted a brother or sister and, though they didn’t get drunk because of you, they desired the drink because of you. Quick aside, don’t suggest that it’s no different than posting a picture of your coffee. People don’t hate themselves, wrap cars around trees, and leave their families because of coffee. Sorry, but that suggestion is silly. Again, how does this help anyone? What’s your goal in doing this?
Bragging about Christian liberties is a sin. Causing brothers and sisters to trip-up is a sin. You may be doing both by flaunting your alcohol liberty. I end with a simple request if anyone can give me a good, biblically good (loving, helpful, aids in discipleship, clear from the Bible) reason why you post pictures of alcohol, please comment. I genuinely want to know. May we all endeavor to humility and the strength of the church together.