In just a few days, I'll cross the threshold into manhood and drink my first (legal) beer. That's right. I'm turning 21 on May 17th - this coming Tuesday. A 21st birthday is reason to celebrate! Right, America? That's what I'm hearing. I've gathered that I should head out to a bar as the clock strikes midnight, and engage in a bout of drinking with my buddies. What's more is that I think I'm supposed to get black-out drunk.
Welp, that's not quite happening. You see - I will be 21. But I'll be 21 and Baptist.
<insert Baptist alcohol humor here>
Before you get started - no, I'm not a teetotaler. While that's been the traditional Baptist line of thinking in regards to alcohol, I don't think it's entirely Biblical. So, then ... what does the Bible even have to say about alcohol and drinking? J.D. Greear shared a bit on that recently. I'll leave it to J.D. to dive into the nitty gritty, so take some time to check out his post. It's chock full of Biblical truth. I will, however, spend some time reflecting on my own thoughts surrounding alcohol and Christianity.
Throughout the Bible, we see alcohol referenced. We know that some of the disciples drank wine, and Jesus certainly had no problem turning water to wine at a wedding. These are all very subtle acknowledgments that alcohol can be a normal component of human life. However, the Bible also gives warning about the dangers of alcohol. Take a look at Proverbs 23:31-35.
Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:“ They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
So, where do I stand? I don't think drinking alcohol is a sin. (Hope the SBC doesn't excommunicate me!)
I do, however, think sin often accompanies alcohol in the form of idolatry. Idolatry is the trap-fall that we are most susceptible to. When anything replaces God as our focus, that's idolatry. And that happens a lot with alcohol. We're underage and we want what we can't have, so we disobey to partake in it. We turn 21 and we want to drink until we black out! We're teetotalers and we spend our time condemning our neighbors for drinking! Each of these three things gives us a glimpse into the diversity and prevalence of idolatry in our lives. We lose focus on the Gospel, and instead seek out our own desires and personal priorities.
The take-away: the Bible is spot on to show us a balanced view of alcohol. It's healthy to see alcohol as a regular part of life, and it's important to know and be prepared for the dangers of it. When it comes down to it, it's a matter of personal choice. Whichever side of the spectrum you stand on, just leave some room for grace.
[I'll do a follow-up to this post shortly.]