Recently I received an email from someone in our church wondering whether my church had an official stance on drinking alcohol. I thought I’d post my reply here – well, it’s not the exact reply but you’ll get the gist.
As far as I’m aware there is no “official” (i.e. documented) policy or guideline on drinking here at WPA. However, unofficially the general position is that consuming alcoholic beverages (especially among church leadership) is not a good thing. The reasoning behind this is because of so much negative practice and outcomes associated with alcohol and its abuse. A quick search on google will reveal much of these in terms of statistics etc. We recognize that the abuse of alcohol is a tool the enemy uses to destroy lives. Scripture has much to say against the abuse of alcohol and as an example you can see 1 Timothy 3:1:3, 1 Timothy 3:8 which gives the instructions against leaders being given to “drunkenness” or heavy drinkers.
Then there is also the point some will point to regarding the issue of “causing someone to stumble” by their drinking. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 8 when talking about the question whether its okay for Christians to eat food that had been offered to idols. He says in particular in vs 9-13 that although there is a freedom to eat any food that for some with a weak conscience it may cause them to stumble (i.e. either miss the message of the gospel, or turn away from Christ) if they see another follower of Christ eating that food. Paul says specifically, in vs 13, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall”. I believe this is a principle that is transferable to the subject of drinking alcohol. There is no scripture in the Bible that condemns drinking alcohol (but plenty of scripture against drunkenness or the abuse of alcohol) so really for there to be a doctrinal statement against drinking alcohol is unnecessary. Really, I believe the choice of drinking alcohol is an individual one. HOWEVER, for Christians, the principle of 1 Corinthians 8:13 holds true: “If my drinking alcohol will cause another to sin then I will abstain from it.”
Personally, I have chosen to abstain from alcohol because of a verse that I’ve internalized that’s found in 2 Timothy 2:19-21 (NIV),
19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”s/p>
20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use.21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
Alcohol itself isn’t evil but in our society in particular, alcohol has been instrumental in so much evil that has taken place that to me drinking it could make me a “cheap utensil”. I want to be ready for my Master to use me for every good work so in good conscience I have made the choice to abstain from it. Would I apply this verse to everyone who chooses to drink alcohol? Not necessarily, but it is an application I will readily make to myself.
What’s your take?