Maybe I haven’t been paying attention, but I didn’t realize there were still major Christian denominations that officially proscribed the drinking of alcoholic beverages by their members. And yet the Southern Baptist Convention has reaffirmed this stance at their recent annual meeting. The resolution could even be read to support reinstating prohibition.
It’s easy to make fun of something like this, but the Southern Baptists are surely right that alcohol abuse is a serious problem. But their resolution insists that it’s the use, not the abuse which is forbidden. How do they square this with the fact that Jesus, by all accounts, drank wine? He was even called a drunkard by some of his critics!
Psalm 104 invites us to praise God for, among other things, providing wine that “maketh glad the heart of man” as the KJV puts it. Surely wine (and beer, and whiskey, and…) should be received as God’s good gifts to be enjoyed, though, of course, not abused. But not scorned either!
One possible argument is that Christians shouldn’t drink, even in moderation, because it might cause their “weaker” brethren who have problems with alcohol to stumble or might be occasion for scandal. This might be a good argument for not having strong drink at church functions, and certainly for abstaining while in the presence of a recovering alcoholic, but I don’t think it’s sufficient to show that we must abstain altogether. Many otherwise innocent activities can be occasions for sin under the right circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we have to refrain from them altogether. Surely there’s a limit to our responsibility for the ways in which other people might respond to our actions if those actions are innocent in themselves.