Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why Might I Choose Not to Drink Alcohol?

A couple of nights ago, we had some friends over who we've known about 20 years. Before dinner I served a festive but non-alcoholic drink, an imitation Old Fashioned. I didn't make them with any precision; I poured orange juice, cherry 7-Up, grenadine syrup (maraschino cherry flavoring, that is), and a few drops of Angostura bitters along with a maraschino cherry over ice. They're good! And it's good they're non-alcoholic, they go down so quickly and easily. I think our friends enjoyed them.
The next morning, knowing that I had made a non-alcoholic version of an alcoholic beverage, Tim was asking me questions about wine and beer. It reminded me of when we had our German exchange student here for 9 months. She wondered why we didn't drink; in Germany there was no association of faith with not drinking as there seems to be in the United States, she said.
I know that the Bible doesn't specifically ban drinking; we are told not to drink too much wine, and over-indulgence is the clearest problem that comes with drinking. Having a little of most anything can't be too bad, and Paul recommends that Timothy have a little wine for his stomach. Jesus' first miracle is that of making water into wine. So I know it's not forbidden. Having too much of even water can be deadly.
When we stopped drinking, we did so at the urging of a church we attended while I was running a ministry there, and they wanted all those in any leadership positions to abstain from drinking to keep others from stumbling. It wasn't a difficult transition, and we've just never gone back. For the purposes of our family, it makes sense for us not to drink. Gary's mom was hit by a drunk driver when Gary was 12, and it changed her life and those of everyone around her. Alcoholism is too prevalent in our society and causes too many problems, and considering these things, we just don't see the need to embrace it again.
I think this is one of the issues that makes some people think that they would never want to become Christians, thinking that they can't drink or do any of the things that they find enjoyable in life (a misconception). I know I didn't stop because the Bible banned it (since it doesn't), but for the sake of those around me. It was easy for me, and if God wants it to happen in someone's life, He will provide the strength, the means, and the joy of obedience that comes with it. God doesn't call everyone to all the same specifics of obedience, and He never makes a person do something of which they are not capable. He may not call you to do so, though again, He might.
Drinking, or any other aspect of life, shouldn't be considered a reason to hesitate to commit one's life to Christ. God will bless the believer in every act of obedience. There is nothing I could lose that isn't His to take already. He's given me all that I have. As Job has said after giving up basically everything of value in his life including all his children, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." (Job 1:21)

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