I went to an evangelical Christian college that did not permit the consumption of alcohol. I grew up in a household and a conservative church culture–Midwest to boot–where drinking was out of the question and seen as bereft of goodness. I’m the child of an American evangelicalism that has had a decidedly contentious (to put it mildly) relationship with alcohol (see “Christians and Alcohol: A Timeline”).

But as I grew older, left home and left college, I came to see that drinking alcohol is a) not forbidden by Scripture (as opposed to drunkenness, which is) and b) actually quite wonderful. Like many of my peers who grew up in similar environments, I became rather fond of drinking fermented beverages in social settings, whether a Cabernet with dinner, IPA with friends or a single-malt scotch on special occasions.

beerOver time I noticed that it seemed increasingly popular amongst my fellow “twentysomething Christians” to embrace the fullest extent of liberty in the area of alcohol. I attended church small groups where beer and cocktails were regularly consumed; I went to parties where dozens of Christian college students and alumni were drinking from kegs and doing Sake bombs; I visited churches that met in bars; I went to Christian conferences where the “after parties” were raucous affairs at pubs; I met Christian beer critics, bartenders, pub owners.

I’m not saying any of this is inherently bad. In fact much of it is to be celebrated as harmless, good-old-fashioned “exhilaration,” as in the famous Martin Luther quip, “we should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated.”

What worries me is this question: Are we so embracing our Christian liberty to partake of alcohol that it threatens to become less a “liberty” and more a shackling legalism–something we can’t, or won’t, go without? As my pastor Alan often says, are we as free to abstain from alcohol as we are free to enjoy it?

Other questions I think many of us would do well to ask ourselves:

  • Is alcohol a “nice to have” or a “must-have”? Can we go out to eat without ordering an alcoholic beverage? Attend a party and only drink soda? Dare to not have some booze in our house for a stretch of time?
  • Are we mindful of those around us, and if they struggle with alcohol in any way are we willing to abstain for their sake? Drinking alcohol may be a perfectly biblical, perfectly Christian thing to do. But if for others in our community it is a hardship or a temptation, then shouldn’t we abstain? As Christians, the ascetic call to deny ourselves perfectly good things for the sake of a community or a commitment is a worthy pursuit.
  • Do we wear our freedom as a badge of honor, as “proof” that we are under grace and thus can drink and party to our heart’s content? If so, we should check ourselves, because reducing grace to a sanctioning of pleasure is tragic; furthermore, if we are talking about freedom under grace, then what about the freedom to deny ourselves and go without? Grace makes this possible too.
  • Do we have a serious-enough understanding of how dangerous alcohol can be? Alcohol has a long and tumultuous history as an addictive wrecker of lives. We all know people who’ve been ruined or nearly ruined by it. We must be careful that our incremental habituation of it in our lives doesn’t become a controlling idol. Alcohol is not something to be trifled with.

Christians have the “right” to consume all sorts of things, though we are told not everything is beneficial or constructive (1 Cor. 10:23). Rather, we are instructed, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31) and “do not cause anyone to stumble” (10:32).

This last part is key, something the Apostle Paul routinely emphasized (especially in Rom. and 1 Cor.). Because it is true that Christians have differing tolerances (“One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables,” Rom. 14:2), we should not pass judgment on or treat with contempt those with different liberties than us.

But we must also be real with ourselves. What’s the point of freedom if it doesn’t free us to enjoy, but also to abstain from, something in culture? And it goes beyond alcohol. There are all sorts of good items and activities in culture that we are free to enjoy in moderation. Food, fitness, movies, music, travel, sports, gaming, and on and on. But the minute any of this becomes something we can’t live without, or something we excessively consume to the point that we need it more than we enjoy it, we should be concerned.

Because ultimately, the goodness of something that we might consume is at its most good when we enjoy it in a God-centric way rather than a me-centric way. That is: when we see it as a gift from God and something to reflect glory back to him, rather than something that serves us and our needs.

Alcohol, like food or any number of things in God’s created world, is a good thing that can become a bad thing if we consume it recklessly, excessively or selfishly. It’s good insofar as we consume it not as something we must have but as something we can have, as a special delight of God’s glorious creation, which includes man’s creative (fermenting) genius. The freedom to drink should not be a freedom to drown one’s sorrows, prove a point or get a fix; it should be a freedom that fixes our eyes ever more on Christ, the giver of life who turns water into wine and makes all things new.

This is the third in a series of posts on contemporary Christianity’s relationship to culture, based on ideas from my new book, Gray Matters: Navigating the Space Between Legalism and Liberty (Baker Books). See also: part one and two.

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Posted by Brett McCracken

Brett McCracken is a Los Angeles-based journalist. He is the author of Hipster Christianity (2010) and Gray Matters (2013), and has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, CNN.com, the Princeton Theological Review, Mediascape, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Relevant, IMAGE Journal, Q Ideas, and Conversantlife.com. A graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA, Brett currently works as managing editor for Biola Magazine and teaches at Biola University. Follow him on Twitter @brettmccracken.


  1. Excellent comments and questions. I just went over alcohol with my students the other night and tried to impress the difference between legalism, license, and the gospel of freedom. I’ll be sharing this as a follow-up. Looking forward to the book!


  2. hannah anderson July 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Great thoughts–have seen precisely the same thing in my peer group. One thing that troubles me in particular is the naivete that accompanies someone who is not raised around alcohol but suddenly embraces it full tilt. I’m not talking about spiritual realities so much as practical ones. Friends who have grown up with alcohol–particularly those from a European context–seem to understand how much is too much and to be careful to eat and drink water along with alcohol consumption. Those who have no knowledge of alcohol other than prohibitions against it don’t seem to have the same understanding or common sense.


  3. Stuart Blessman July 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    My concern with this issue is the “tyranny of the weaker brother”. There is always someone who believes consuming alcohol is wrong, and will therefore insist or go out of there way to prevent you from having any or enjoying it. Questions are asked like “why do you feel as if you have to have alcohol?”

    But I love how Paul leaves it up to each discerning believer as to what is beneficial. The problem arises when people begin to dictate what is beneficial or not, or use Paul’s statement to make a blanket statement that because he said something, it’s *clearly bad and not good.

    I’m done caring about what justifications people come up with. Especially if it’s an American. Make mine a snake bite, and then water please.


    1. Francisco Munoz July 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      real Christ-like attitude…congratulations


      1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

        And to you, brother.


    2. Jeremiah Johnson July 19, 2013 at 11:15 am

      And you will always have someone who’s life or someone who is close to them who’s life has been ruined by alcohol. Sit down and listen to those who very lives have been ruined by emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by an alcoholic. Or who have had loved ones who are now dead because of alcohol or who have grown up in poverty due to wasting money to keep up with alcohol addiction.
      Then you will understand why there are those who believe that alcohol is wrong, it is called being sensitive to the pain in the soul of another.
      While there may be tyrannic weaker brothers out there, there are many more who’s lives have been deeply dramatized by alcohol.

      If you could drink alcohol before you were a Christian, then to drink it afterward is not ‘Christian freedom’. Christ died so that you could be free to serve Him and your brother, that is the true liberty that we should be quick to defend and to unashamedly practice.


      1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 11:18 am

        You mean like my grandpa, who blew his brains out with a shotgun in a bathtub because of his drinking?

        I understand and hear your point. Please extend the same courtesy.


        1. Jeremiah Johnson July 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm

          Thanks for sharing Stuart,
          Sense you have had this painful experience that resulted from alcohol, then you should be able to understand why some don’t want to go near it and how former alcoholics don’t want to be around the smell of it.


          1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

            And that’s perfectly understandable and respectable.

  4. Good post. The first question “Is alcohol a “nice to have” or a “must-have”? ” and the last “Do we have a serious-enough understanding of how dangerous alcohol can be? ” fairly well sum up why not to drink, at least in our time and our culture.
    There are two ways to consume alcohol: 1: As a beverage – which it is, or
    2. As a drug – which it is.
    I’d put it to you that number 2 above is the American way, at least as much as number 1 and probably more. If anyone is an exception to the rule, good for you, but then that may be when you also have to consider the community around you.


    1. I don’t think that this article’s intent was to support or condemn drinking alcohol, but rather to force us to examine our lives and see where we stand.

      I don’t think that not drinking any alcohol is the answer (sorry for the double negative). It is just going to lead the same circles of “forbidden-ness” which the author experienced growing up, and then the backlash of that thought process, which leads it to being widely accepted and potentially abused. I think that we need to keep a healthy attitude toward alcohol, and raise our kids to have the same view. The “radical middle” is key. That way, there won’t be those cycles of extreme legalism and extreme liberalism.


      1. I don’t think the article’s intent was to condemn drinking alcohol consumption wholesale either, and for that matter neither do I. However, the questions do serve to illustrate that refraining from alcohol, and encouraging others to at least consider the same, is not necessarily legalistic but can be a valid position based on a realistic assessment of what we see happening.


        1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 5:35 pm

          Absolutely. The Biblical model is in a case by case scenario, not a result of overall culture. Absolutely agree.


  5. Reminded me of this poem by Carl Sandburg:

    Freedom is a habit

    Freedom is a habit
    and a coat worn
    some born to wear it
    some never to know it.
    Freedom is cheap
    or again as a garment
    is so costly
    men pay their lives
    rather than not have it.
    Freedom is baffling:
    men having it often
    know not they have it
    till it is gone and
    they no longer have it.
    What does this mean?
    Is it a riddle?

    Yes, it is first of all
    in the primers of riddles.
    To be free is so-so:
    you can and you can’t:
    walkers can have freedom
    only by never walking
    away their freedom:
    runners too have freedom
    unless they overrun:
    eaters have often outeaten
    their freedom to eat
    and drinkers overdrank
    their fine drinking freedom.


  6. Thanks for these thoughts. I’d like to throw into the conversation an angle from more traditional forms of Christianity: times of feasting and fasting. This, of course, is not to heap on new (or old) forms of legalism. But rather to build in an extra layer of thoughtfulness into what we consume and when. Fasting from alcohol for a period (say Lent or Advent) can be a helpful reminder that drink has not fallen into the “must have” category. Plus, the “exhilaration” of consuming coincides with the far greater exhilaration of celebration of Christ’s birth or resurrection (things worth celebrating!).
    But this can even occur with greater regularity than yearly, perhaps one chooses to abstain on traditional fast days like Wed., Fri., or Sat. evening (a “vigil” for the resurrection celebration of Sun. AM).
    Practices like these, again, are not meant to be legalistic, but rather to help us to develop healthy and responsible habits with good, but potentially bad, things.


    1. SJ theivorylighthouse.blogspot July 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm

      I’d be interested to see this thought expanded. Something rather sad, when you think about it, is the loss of Church drinking culture. “Do this in remembrance of Me when ever you drink of the cup,” Implies drinking in a way we’re probably not used to doing Communion. I wish we had the protocol to break bread and ‘drink of the cup’ in a way that had deep meaning and tradition, rather than the newer and hipper ways we keep trying to reinvent it.


      1. My father had an addiction problem and would try to abstain from time to time due to serious health issues. One time he fell off the wagon when he participated in Holy Communion and took one sip of the wine.


  7. Stuart, I’m not sure how there is a “tyranny of the weaker brother” with respect to any freedom. It is one thing to abstain from something so as not to cause a brother to stumble, which is what Paul was communicating. One desists out of love. It is another thing to feel bludgeoned into abstaining because someone doesn’t prefer/allow it for himself, whatever his reasons, and attempts to compel others to the same. In that case, we will have to agree to disagree. The person who truly struggles in observing the freedoms of another is not the same the one who wants to sit as the judge of others.

    Now, two observations. First, as one who comes from a family that has had its fair share of alcoholics, it strikes me as a bit sassy when one trumpets this freedom. The simple truth of the matter is that over-indulgence carries with it destructive ends. I reference Noah, Lot, and Solomon for instruction and a realistic view of our social history as evidence. Second, I’ve always thought it short-sighted to justify alcoholic consumption by retorting something to the effect that, for example, addiction to coffee carries with it risks also. While no addictions (not even to Mere-O – :)) are profitable, imbibing is not risk-free, and this should at least be acknowledged. By way of comparison, in our gun-toting part of the world, the typical 12 year old is taught how to handle a firearm properly, and he knows well how to use it to proper effect. But if he wanders away from the northern plains and lands in, say, central London (or any number of places), what benefit is it to argue on behalf of his freedom to handle firearms with his Christian brothers there? Still, I do wonder how many brothers there might cast a sideward glance at his gun usage. It may be that European Christians better equip their young to deal with alcohol (as our young friend is with a gun), and they know how to partake in a more socially responsible manner. Maybe that is so, but it doesn’t make the risk any less. Guns potentially kill people, alcohol can make one drunk. How does that compare to too many chocolate chip cookies? Such is the world in which we live.

    Just so you know, I share Brett’s basic convictions here, with the caveat that while man discovered fermentation, God created the elements for its occurrence.


    1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

      I’d say there is such a thing as the tyranny of the weaker, and I’m not alone. Here’s one example – http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/the-tyranny-of-the-offended


      1. Thanks for the reply and link. My reaction is that he says nothing there that would cause me to change my contention. What is described there is, believe me, all too familiar – regardless of the issue. The back and forth there is between two individuals who disagree; that happens. But I’m wondering why it should become so heavy a concern that one would worry too much about another’s commentary on his freedoms, in this case the use of language. Where is the “tyranny”? Again, we can agree to disagree. If we continue to give deference to the other as being significant in some way, then I’m wondering if there might be a sliver of doubt with respect to our own position?


        1. I would just add that if the concern is that we sometimes cloud the Gospel with secondary issues, and these sometimes come from authoritative figures, then hear hear. And while it is also understandable that we don’t like a judgmental tone of one who critiques our freedoms, I am wary of getting sidetracked with a war of words in order to defend myself.


        2. I think that some of this may have to do with cultural (and geographic) context, which you’re actually sort of getting at above. If you live in Massachusetts or Colorado or Seattle or any number of places, to describe it as “the tyranny of the weaker brother” is, well, nonsense – and fairly obviously so. If, on the other hand, you live in large swaths of the South and especially if you’re in Southern or Independent Baptist contexts… it might be a more accurate picture. (People do of course experience it elsewhere, but as a trend, not so much.)

          I think for a lot of folks I’ve known, the pushback isn’t so much pro-alcohol (and I and a lot of my friends are at least presently in a season of abstention due to our enrollment in SBC seminaries) as it is deeply opposed to the foisting of extra-biblical strictures on people as, say, conditions of membership or leadership in the church. So I (1) completely agree with Brett in the original article and (2) am deeply sympathetic to those who have experienced “the tyranny of the weaker brother,” because a lot of my friends have experienced just that. And it is bad for people’s discipleship. That right there is my ultimate concern: I could if necessary forgo drinking the rest of my life. I cannot and will not tolerate people insisting that everyone do so.

          I’ll simply tell them to go read Romans 12–14 and 1 Corinthians 8–10. ;)


  8. And Brett writes (most of) the post about Christian freedom that I long wanted to write. Kudos!

    What I would add is a simple rule of thumb: it’s only freedom if you are free. If you are not free with regard to drinking alcohol (or anything else), then you are not exercising freedom when you partake. In that case, refraining is an act that preserves freedom, by avoiding deeds that place you in bondage.

    That is not meant to be a ground to always guilt someone out of good, moderate enjoyment. There is a difference between someone who is not safe around alcohol, or whose conscience is tender towards it, and someone who is merely zealously against the idea that a person can drink even a drop without sinning. The latter is not a “weaker brother”, even if he or she claims that language.

    Christian Freedom can be a motive to be the one who always makes a point to bring something soft to a function at a church, department, or circle of friends where no one consistently thinks to bring something non-alcoholic. Or to skip that drink when with someone who doesn’t know their limit. Or, if a sad friend orders a pitcher at the restaurant, to grab a glass, fill it up, and mercifully make sure they aren’t drinking alone.


  9. I live in an European country where alcohol abuse especially among teenagers is a massive problem. It does appear that young Christians who choose not to drink alcoholic drinks have an opportunity for a clear witness than those who insist that there is nothing wrong with moderate use.


    1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Still looking for testimonies and proof of people who were saved by the witness of someone who abstains from drink.

      And by their abstaining you shall know them.

      Responsibility is such a better thing.


      1. Stuart and Michael,

        Still looking for testimonies and proof of people who were saved by the witness of a drunk. In Europe or America.

        I have heard of drinkers who after becoming Christians decided to quit alcohol. Christianity seems to lead some people to that choice. I’ve never heard of the teetotaler who after becoming a Christian decided to take up alcohol. Christianity doesn’t seem to lead people to that choice.

        For any Christian reading this – As for witness opportunities, and I’d apply this to other things besides drinking or frequenting bars, do you actually make that an opportunity to witness? Do you ever witness to those people with whom you have contact through the shared activity? Is that why you drink (or whatever) in the first place? If not, it’s dishonest to use that as a defense of your choice. If, on the other hand, you don’t think it needs defending, why bring it up?


        1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

          Exactly. You won’t find any. Just as you won’t find anyone saved by merely observing someone abstaining from drinking and thinking “hmm, there is something different about them, maybe I should ask them what’s different”. By their abstaining you will know them.

          What you will find though is a lot of people loudly proclaiming they do not drink. They then will typically launch into a well practiced argument that drinking is morally wrong and I’m a Christian and Christians, true Christians, don’t drink, and we are called to be separate and different, etc. Seen it happen, lived through those churches, well equated with the arguments and rhetoric.

          Teetotaler becoming a Christian who then decides to take up alcohol?

          RAISES HAND.

          Christianity can indeed lead people to making that choice. All depends on what camp you belong to, what traditions you hold to, what doctrines you hold to…what truths you are willing to listen to or ignore.

          Witnessing opportunities? RAISES HAND AGAIN. What, you think I’m sloshed at the bar, talking about Jesus? God forbid. Sharing a single drink (or even two, the scandal!) is a great opportunity to discuss important things. Is that why I drink, to share Christ? God forbid as well. Unless you mean at the Communion Table? Then yes, the wine and bread goes great with fellowship. But if in the course of sharing a drink normally the Holy Spirit presents an opportunity to share Christ, then praise God.

          But, ah, I see. Because we defend it, we are automatically at a lesser position. Well, let’s look at this from the historical perspective, shall we?

          Defend being an absolute teetotaler.

          In light of history, that position is the weaker, newer one. Setting aside seasons of putting aside alcohol, prior struggles with alcohol, choices to not drink based on job or ministry (and even then…), unwillingness to cause an immediate believer to stumble, etc. Please, defend.


          1. You seemed to have missed the point about defensiveness. If you think drinking alcohol is okay (and it fundamentally is, which doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with how it’s done) and you like to drink beer, wine, etc., (the etc. becomes a bit more questionable) just say it’s something you like and there’s nothing wrong with it. You don’t need to bring a justification like opportunity to witness into it, unless you think you need justification.

            Anyway, whatever the cultural antecedents of my own bias may be, and I’m aware they’re there, it is also based on first hand observation. Everything I was taught as a boy about how bad alcohol is I’ve seen illustrated in real life. It hasn’t made me a prohibitionist, I’m not one, but it has relieved me of any temptation to imbibe or partake in anything that centers around alcohol consumption.

            It isn’t all about our witness either, I’m not the one that brought that up. We’re told that unbelievers won’t always understand or approve our choices. Regardless, the more important thing is that we’re choosing what belongs to the light and I just haven’t observed all that much light in bars or in activities where alcohol is the honored guest.

        2. SJ theivorylighthouse.blogspot July 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

          I’ll pipe in,
          First, I think there’s something to be said about what exactly a “witness” is. Christians use it couple ways. If you mean ‘is the average bar frequenting Christian handing out tracks,’ I’m at least not. If you mean that our lives reflect God while in a bar, yes, I think I do. Bars for a lot of people are places of surprisingly open conversation. While I, and many others, aren’t getting people to pray the sinner’s prayer, the fact that I can share about a life in such an open setting and show an equally complicated raw life as a non-Christians with a hope that is only found in God, I would count that a great witness.

          Next I’d have to point you to British revivalists who wrote hymns to the tunes of bar songs so that the men of the pubs would be able to pick up the songs. Note, the revivalists knew bar songs which implies a bit of time there! American Christianity has been heavily impacted by a movement that forbade cards, drinking, tobacco, and dancing. I’d encourage you to look into the other Christian cultures of the world and see what they have to say about alcohol.


          1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm

            That was my my point exactly above when I said I’m done listening to Americans speak on this topic. We’ve been too tainted by the past, the temperance movement, Welch, the revivalists, Keswicks, etc. And our leaders have a tendency to think they are right on all things, partly because they are Americans, partly because of their theology (both for the issue and for end times special placement by God type things).

            It’s time to listen to more than just ourselves talk.

            (And so help me if someone gets cute and says “listen to the Bible then”…)

          2. Stuart,

            Is your issue with abstinence from alcohol or is your issue with Americans? If the latter, I might have my criticisms too, but the only one that pertains is this: Americans tend to approach alcohol like frat boys. Maybe Europeans tend to view alcohol like more like adults. Of course compared to the U.S. European countries don’t tend to play around when it comes to drunk driving either.

        3. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

          And yes, this issue does get me a little riled up. I’ve been called out by no less than John MacArthur as the “poster boy” of “emergent drinkers” or something. I’m nothing of the sort, and John should watch his insinuations.


    2. SJ theivorylighthouse.blogspot July 19, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Here’s the thing, morally we equate drunkenness to homosexuality on the sin-o-meter of our christian culture. From looking at the statement that Paul said it’s pretty clear this is not a “command” in the sense of ‘loving one another’ or ‘heal the sick, raise the dead.’ This was Paulian advice, like “wear your head coverings,” “conduct yourselves orderly.” He doesn’t go into great detail, like this was some ground breaking new idea, this was common sense. I really think a lot of what gets read into drunkenness is something from the holiness movement in the US. From talking to people who grew up in European countries getting drunk has a very different connotation. Many will say that when they started drinking (at 18 or younger) they drank more than they should, but it was a “phase.” Not in the shame filled regret that we associate that narrative to be. Because their larger culture doesn’t have the shame attached to being drunk that we as evangelical Americans I don’t see how abstaining from alcohol does anything other than limit the contact a person would have with the people they’re ‘witnessing’ to.


  10. SJ theivorylighthouse.blogspot July 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I’ve still never seen my dad drink. My folks were Nazarene, good sorts of people. Every once in a while the lively debate(my families first love language) would start up about alcohol. My parents has been asked not to drink by our pastor because they served on the board. The argument went something like “if someone saw you, then they might stumble.” But how many other things might make a person stumble? Would hugging your children in public cause a sex-offender to stumble in pedophilia? Would having pets cause pet hoarders to stumble? The problem will all vices is that they come from things that are good and normal when in the right relationship. Food is something we must eat in moderation, so is the moderation of earthly possessions, both could be turned into vices of gluttony and hoarding. That’s really the problem of the “someone might stumble” argument, there are people who struggle with the moderation just about everything in our world. Alcohol has simply been black-listed long enough we can imagine life with out it. One may then argue that alcoholism is a far bigger issue for more people, then say cat hoarding but if we were to look at the stats morbid obesity is significantly higher than alcoholism. Should we ban all sweet of unhealthy foods from potlucks?

    I started drinking because I didn’t want to fear alcohol and I had a feeling that if I let it stay locked away as some sort of ultimate thing people do when desperate, I would eventually reach that low point and end up in serious problems. Knowing your limit and if you can say no is something I think a lot of evangelicals lack a healthy understanding of.


    1. Stuart Blessman July 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      An old pastor of mine used to say that for most people, their first drink was stealing it from their parent’s fridge or liquor cabinet…implication being adults shouldn’t have alcohol in the home.

      I had my first drink at his house. True story.


  11. AliceInWonderland July 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

    As an abstainer, who thinks drinking is wrong, let me put my input here. First of all, I’m not a weaker sister, I just think I have a better understanding of the pain it can cause than most, and see the undiniable relationship alcohol has with this pain. At times I feel like Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, seeing the beasts’ that pulls the carriage when no one else does. And, people seem to think I’m as crazy as Luna.

    But I’m good with that, a lot of people don’t see the connections I do. I’m used to people having no idea what the heck I’m talking about, I’m an accountant.

    The thing I hate is the bad additudes people have when I disagree with them. It’s like seriously, it is a beverage, I don’t drink soda either. (Mainly because I don’t like the taste)

    Does it bother you that I think it is a sin? I’m sure there are areas that you think are sins that I don’t, get over it!! If you are that bothered by me calling it a sin, then do your own in depth study on what the Bible says about it, with prayer and an open mind, and then come to your own conclusion. Then, be confident in what the spirit is telling you and don’t worry about what it’s telling me. I don’t get offended when SDA’s tell me I should worship on Saturday.

    I have had respectful discussions with people who disagree and we have continued to disagree. It’s fine. But oh so often I see Christians sticking their fingers in their ears like a child and yelling “Christian liberty!!” Whenever the issue is brought up and to me it’s like you don’t care to know the answer because you know if you searched you would have to give it up.


    1. Is drinking wrong for you, or for everyone? That’s the question I have on reading your post.

      If it’s wrong for just you: Fine. You don’t provide much reasoning in your post, but if you think it’s a sin for you to drink, then it’s right for you not to drink.

      Where it becomes a problem, though, is if you think it’s wrong for others to drink. Because when you say “Ask the Spirit and come to your own conclusions, you seem to be implying that the Holy Spirit of God is going to tell you that it’s not ok for anyone to drink, but He’ll tell another person that it IS ok for them to drink.

      Both of those things can’t be true. Which would mean that the Spirit would be telling one of you a falsehood. Which is impossible.

      Your system of (seeming) passive-aggressive “tolerance” isn’t doing anyone any good. Like someone patting Peter on the back and saying “That’s fine that you think the Spirit told you its ok to eat meat. I’ll just continue believing you’re sinning every time you do so.”


  12. I recently quit drinking for a whole year. Grace gives freedom to not drink, too. Well said


  13. Bill Struthers July 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Perhaps the issue isn’t one of right/wrong, but more of a question of wisdom. Is it wise? The measure of legalism is following the right/wrong path. Perhaps the standards of wisdom look beyond the rule to the character of Christ. Just a thought….


    1. And a good thought too Bill.

      To insist a thing either has to be categorically wrong as demonstrated by explicit biblical proof-text or else has to accepted as absolutely alright is to practice a type of legalism. Which is ironic given the charge of legalism leveled at Christian critics of alcohol.


  14. […] Are you free to NOT engage in this freedom?  (Here you need to read this article by Patrick Schreiner which links to this helpful article by Brett McCracken. […]


  15. […] McCracken has a really thought-provoking post over at Mere Orthodoxy about Christians’ relationship with alcohol. I found the article […]


  16. […] wrote about this point a few years ago in terms of alcohol, describing my worry that post-legalism liberty to drink can morph into a new legalism: “Are we so embracing our […]


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