Alcohol and the Church

I was raised in a church where alcohol and tobacco use is not allowed for its pastors and members. We come from a Wesleyan background where this was more commonly adhered to at one time.

This being the only church I’ve known, imagine my surprise when as a child, I saw a priest smoking! I knew with certainty that I’d spied something not meant to be seen by others. Later I learned smoking and drinking were acceptable for Catholic priests and parishioners.

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The commercial featured a boy who was a picky eater. A bowl of cereal was put in front of him. His expression of disinterest unchanged as his friend said, “He won’t eat it. Mikey hates everything.” A pause, and then he takes a spoonful while the friend exclaims: “He tried it. He likes it!”

When it comes to alcohol, my stance is if you don’t try it, you don’t have to worry about liking it and the accompanying responsibilities.

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I also grew up with stories of drunken uncles whose arguments erupted into brawls. These stories were told as funny with laughter accompanying each one. Why do we laugh at this behavior that leads to anger expressed in physical harm? ‘Oh, they were drunk. Ha ha ha.’

We laugh at drunken behavior but whisper about drug use. No wonder we’re a mess.

photo from Unsplash

The freedom of drinking has become more a part of the lives of younger evangelicals. Bloggers write about that glass of wine. (Does wine sound more acceptable?) The 30-something podcaster mentions it and it seems there is a whole generation of young evangelicals who have found the freedom to enjoy alcohol as if putting an exclamation point on grace.

Which also means, there is a whole new generation of young evangelicals where one out of 10 will become an alcoholic. It doesn’t happen quickly. It can take ten years or more for it to become an obsessive addiction. You’ll barely notice the slippery slope of this disease.

I’m not against the use of alcohol. I don’t believe drinking is a sin or that you’ll go to hell if you do. I do believe, for many, they’ve opened something they never had to find out. Like Mikey, they’ve tried it and they like it. Only, they really, really like it and then they need it.

The next few days we’ll look more closely at alcohol and addiction within the church. Redemption isn’t reserved for a group of men in a residential rehab program. As we say in Celebrate Recovery: it’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups and we all have them. Whether it’s a substance, a habit, or hurt, we need the redemption of Jesus.

16 Comments

  1. Gabriele said:

    I’m glad you wrote this post. I feel that what can seem like a pleasure can turn into hell for some.

    October 18, 2017
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    • Debby Hudson said:

      So true. Gabriele. The scariest part is you only find out when it’s often too late.

      October 18, 2017
      Reply
  2. I spent weekends of my childhood running Buds to my Dad and Uncle while they worked around the farm. I grew up sipping on them. I spent many nights of my young adulthood at the bars drinking and dancing. I was converted when I was 25 into the “one drink is drunk” and entering a bar is the “appearance of evil” perspective. I never agreed with that teaching but the only liquor I had for the next 10 years was 4 years later–a bottle of Michelob the night before my wedding to relax me so I’d sleep, and a bottle of champagne on our honeymoon, to celebrate our marriage. I just had no desire for it. I DO get the leaving alcohol alone guarantees that one will never become addicted, and absolutely respect that! But I also believe having a glass of wine with a nice dinner, a bottle of beer with pizza or a margarita with tacos isn’t the problem. The problem is excess–getting drunk. I’ve seen the mindset among some younger Christians that freedom in Christ means anything goes. That is not what the Bible teaches. If these kids are getting drunk, then I agree with you; there is a great problem coming and that makes me sad…

    October 18, 2017
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    • Debby Hudson said:

      I agree with you Christy. What frightens me is it can be too late by the time someone realizes they have a problem. I hope you read tomorrow’s post on this where I share words from a couple of others about their experience. I should add, both of our adult children drink. To be honest, it saddens me because it’s so not how they were raised. But that aside, they do so not to excess. That’s the key, isn’t it?

      October 18, 2017
      Reply
  3. Well written, Debby, and begging to be said. Addiction will grab hold and hang on for life. I also get nervous when I see evangelicals sharing photos of “enjoying” cigarettes and cigars. No thought is given to either addiction or of their health. May we become wiser and stay free of all that would seek to bind us.

    October 18, 2017
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  4. I grew up in a church with the same belief that as believers we should abstain from alcohol and tobacco. And to this day, I don’t use alcohol partly because of that and partly because my father had an older brother who was an alcoholic and my dad refused to even sip a drink because of it. I don’t say alcohol is evil, but I’ve certainly seen all too many times where using it has led people into doing evil. What alarms me most about the younger set of believers who almost boast of their ‘freedom in Christ’ to use alcohol is when I see young mamas posting on social media how they just have to have some wine to get through their day. Do they realize what they are saying? And what they are teaching their children? As usual, Debby, you’ve given us much food for thought with your post.

    October 18, 2017
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    • Debby Hudson said:

      I think the comments are what get me most, Cindy. And the examples set for children. Thanks for being part of the discussion. It’s one we need to have.

      October 18, 2017
      Reply
  5. Ron Clark said:

    Really got me thinking this morning. I also grew up in a home where alcohol was laughed at and never talked about. I watched my dad and uncles drink and do crazy things mostly on the weekends they rarely missed work and were at church on Sunday mornings that was my normal. There was a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday mornings lol.The slippery slope is true I tried alcohol and I liked it I really liked it. It destroyed my life for years. Not a day goes by that I wonder how my life would have been different if I never took that first drink. My health, career, etc…Thank God I received help and I try to be a good example for others today. Although not a day goes by that when I see someone struggling with addiction, homeless, or has just lost hope that I think but for the grace of God there go I. I hate cliche therapy but you really got me thinking today about one day at a time is all I can do. Great read Mrs. Hudson tell your husband I said hello. God Bless the work you guys are doing and God Bless the Salvation Army.

    October 18, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Ron, you are one of the Redemption Stories! We are thankful you WANTED change and then used the tools given to you. Thanks for sharing your perspective here. And for stopping in to see us when you were in town a few months ago!

      October 18, 2017
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  6. Lesley said:

    This post has had me thinking all day, Debby! I like your point that if you don’t try it you don’t have to worry about liking it.
    I grew up in a church culture (and family culture) where drinking was considered normal. When I was in my late teens a group of us would go to the pub every week after the evening service and, while we actually didn’t drink that much, older members of the church would always joke about drunkenness like it was a completely acceptable and normal part of life.
    To cut a long story short, God challenged me when I was about 20 that this was not how I should be living and almost completely removed my desire to drink alcohol, but it was actually easier to live this out with non-Christian friends (who assumed it was because of my faith) than with Christians (who couldn’t understand why.)
    Now I’m just not interested and, as you say, this probably still makes me different from many in my generation. I will have one drink on a special occasion maybe 2 or 3 times a year, but even that is more to be socially acceptable than because I want to.
    I think mainly as I consider this I am grateful that God has protected me in this area, but I also think it is something the church needs to take more seriously.
    Thanks for starting this conversation!

    October 18, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I love/hate things that get me thinking, Lesley 😉 I think you have it right. It’s up to us to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in all areas. And sometimes, we need to confirm that with others. Thanks for being part of the conversation. It’s definitely needed.

      October 18, 2017
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  7. Annie Rim said:

    I’m so glad you’re “going here.” You know we drink… But, after abstaining while pregnant, I never drank as much. And, after our Whole30 cleanse, stopping at one glass is definitely easier. I struggle with teaching the girls responsible drinking. I don’t want it to be forbidden but also don’t want them to be blase about it….

    October 18, 2017
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Like many things, it’s a tricky balance. I definitely get the concern on teaching that balance to your kids. I guess that’s when it’s important to remember they learn most often from example.

      October 18, 2017
      Reply

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