“How to Drink Like a Christian”
(To Drink or Not to Drink?)
Here are a few thoughts and considerations regarding alcohol consumption during Couples ReNew 2019.
1. The Bible does not expressly prohibit the consumption of wine or other naturally-sourced intoxicating substances, but drunkenness is universally condemned in Scripture, as is being a drunkard.
I define drunkenness as “the state of debilitating intoxication that impedes function, judgment, and/or discernment.” This intoxication can be spiritual or physical, arising from power, success, sex, love, money, popularity, recreation, or substance. There is no place for the loss of self-control or self-possession in a Christian’s life—whether substance is a factor or not. Spiritual drunkenness is always at the root of physical drunkenness.
“Drunkards” are people who surrender their lives, energies, affections, resources, and time to the pursuit of intoxication instead of God, family, friendship, industry, nature, worship, devotion, service, learning, contemplation, and growth. When a person yields their God-given self-determination to any spiritual or natural intoxicant, they do so at great cost to themselves, their friends and family, and society. This does not glorify Christ or present a proper Christian witness.
As a Spirit-indwelt believer, you are NEVER subordinated to the control of any substance. The curse of sin and addiction has been forever broken from your life by the Blood of Christ; you have power to stand fast in the Liberty Christ purchased for all mankind. Do not relinquish this authority.
2. The Bible does not expressly prohibit the consumption of wine or other naturally-sourced intoxicating substances, but spiritual emptiness and vanity are universally denounced in Scripture, as is idolatry.
I define spiritual emptiness as “the state of perpetual longing for completion, happiness, or significance through temporal things.” As a believer, Christ is your fulfillment; He alone offers completion, supplies happiness, and bestows significance in this transient, short-lived pilgrimage we call “life.” Nothing in this world but God alone can satisfy our deepest yearnings; fullness is found only in His Presence within our hearts. Wine and substance make many promises they cannot keep. The empty soul is susceptible to their deception, but because Christ has made His home in your heart, YOU are not vacant.
I define vanity as “the totality of temporal distraction and preoccupation.” The masses mindlessly incorporate substance into their routine lives to deaden their abiding sense of purposelessness. They imbibe just because, with no thought as to why or how wine and other substances became so predominant in their many spheres of activity—during lunch, after work, at dinner, before bed, on the weekend, at Sunday brunch, during sporting events, for birthdays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, retirement parties, and funerals.
People partake reflexively because it’s entrenched into our cultural and social mores. Wine and substance determine many people’s anticipation and expectation of upcoming evenings and events, vacations and celebrations. For many, the presence or absence of wine and substance dictates their capacity for enjoyment. This is the essence of a vain life, a subsistence devoid of eternal perspective.
As a believer, your life is built around your Father’s Business, not the aimless recreational customs of a lost and empty world. Your conversation, socialization, recreation, celebration, and relaxation do not require wine or substance to be meaningful and connective. Even while enjoying in the occasions and feasts of this earthly journey, you feel no compulsion toward thoughtless consumption; your gaze remains fixed on the Heavenly horizon.
Idolatry is trusting in anything other than God as a Source of spiritual or natural supply. Relationships, jobs, money, education, experience, and substances all vie for our attention and confidence at one Season or other. They offer a false sense of security, making us hesitant to wholly rely on God. We ought never give ourselves over to their deceitful beckoning or pledge our allegiance to them. Like all idols, they are unresponsive and inanimate, powerless to save, secure, or deliver.
As a believer, you see no interest in turning to wine or substance as an idol. You never find yourself “needing” a drink to cope with stress, anxiety, setbacks, or boredom because God is your refuge during the trials and troubles of this life. He alone helps your frailties and heals your fears. In times of uncertainty and woe, your heart craves His Presence and Power, not food, retail therapy, delicacy, extravagance, recklessness, or substance. You know ONLY His Spirit can provide true and lasting Peace, Comfort, and Assurance.
3. The Bible does not expressly prohibit the consumption of wine or other naturally-sourced intoxicating substances, but the sins that often arise from excess are universally condemned in Scripture, including looseness of morals.
At no time should believers permit alcohol or any substance to nudge them into speech or action that dishonors Christ, disrespects people, or destroys property.
Further, the Holy Spirit dwells within you at all times; if a thought, word, or deed is sinful before a glass of wine, it’s also sinful after a glass of wine. You take no pleasure in sin because YOU are a child of Light.
As a Christian, you would NEVER put anyone’s life at risk by selfish, careless, or irresponsible actions, nor would you ever inflict emotional or physical harm on anyone—whether substance is a factor or not. You would never allow even mild intoxication to put yourself or others in jeopardy.
4. If not for drunkenness, emptiness, vanity, or idolatry, what expediency would a Christ-honoring person find in wine or substance? The Scriptural answer is fairly straight-forward: cheerfulness and enjoyment.
In the Bible, wine and substance were verboten during times of work, worship, vigilance, or spiritual service, but they were often incorporated into feasts, celebrations, holy days, remembrances, and fellowships. Drunkenness and debauchery (non-marital sensuality) were never condoned, not even when “strong drink” was consumed.
Even the smallest amounts of wine and other naturally-sourced substances can be intoxicating. The resulting lightness of mood, levity, ease, or euphoria are the scripturally-prescribed limits of their usefulness. Going beyond this “cheerfulness” is misuse and gluttony—both of which are unbecoming to Christ-honoring people.
5. Wine and substance are not healthy, not even in moderate amounts. The same can be said of birthday cake and Cheetos. If you choose to partake, be honest with yourself and mindful of your inner and outer wellbeing.
6. The Scripture approaches wine and substance with the same suspicion and skepticism it reserves for money.
Like money, wine and substance can be ruinous mockers. They present reduced risk to people who are whole and full internally, but they are absolutely dangerous to anyone who is broken and empty. The central issue is our hearts, not the things themselves.
Wine, naturally-sourced intoxicating substances, and money can certainly be enjoyed, but they should NEVER be loved, served, or obeyed.
7. Couples ReNew 2019 is neither the time nor place to begin indulging in wine or other naturally-sourced substances.
If you don’t currently partake, don’t start here or now. This document wasn’t written to affirm or endorse anything, but rather to equip our diverse group of attendees with spiritual understanding as we sail together.
You may see a brother or sister with a drink in their hand on this cruise; please don’t despise or condemn them. You may eat or fellowship with a brother or sister who chooses not to drink on this cruise; please don’t belittle, shame, or compel them.
Wine and other substances are not for everyone, and they may not be for you. Drinking or not drinking won’t make you any more or less righteous. The pressing issue is not a matter of your right-standing before God, but of you do what you do. And . If you feel even the slightest hesitation or concern, STAY AWAY. You’re already full in Christ; don’t invite unnecessary confusion.
If you and your spouse are not in 100% harmony and agreement on the matter, LEAVE IT ALONE. There’s no need to create marital discord over something so completely non-essential.
8. If you choose to partake of wine or other naturally-sourced substances on Couples ReNew 2019, please honor the following:
ONLY do it as a means joyful celebration with your spouse and in a manner that glorifies Christ
ONLY enjoy it as a welcome and lawful diversion from the hustle and bustle of the harried and hurried world you left behind at the port, not as an excuse for revelry or carousing.
NEVER use substance a wrongheaded means of escape or to avoid addressing personal or marital problems. God is your Answer, not over-priced fruity cocktails with umbrellas for garnish.
NEVER use wine or substance as a patch-work crutch for a dysfunctional sex life. You should be attracted to and aroused by each other WITHOUT the need for wine or substance. If you have communication or performance issues in your Marriage Bed, grab two chairs and invite the Holy Spirit to join you both for a long, heart-searching conversation. After that, get naked and enjoy!
KNOW that Connie and I don’t condemn you. We believe you are born of God and filled with His Fullness. We trust you will search your own heart and live honestly in your own eyes and before the Lord with your spouse and family.
REMEMBER, you are on vacation, but you are also on a spiritual retreat. Don’t allow wine or any substance to sidetrack you from the Word and ReNewal you came to receive.