There has been a geographic divide as well as denomination divide on alcohol use in the church. Evangelicals in our northern states have generally been seen as moderates on the subject with Evangelicals in the south being abstentionists.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Seth Haines’ book, Coming Clean: a Story of Faith has been well received, earning an Award of Merit in the Spiritual Formation category from Christianity Today. Seth fits squarely into the young evangelical demographic who embraces the religious freedom to imbibe. His book is the account of his first 90 days spent in counseling for alcoholism. Like most, Seth didn’t come to this admission quickly or easily. He didn’t take heed of the troubling signs his drinking had become a problem. His wife didn’t say, “Oh, honey, I didn’t notice.” Alcoholism doesn’t work that way.
It can be silent to every outsider. Admitted by the family or not, they know.
In Heather Kopp’s book, Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk, she shares her story of slipping further and further into the numbing power of alcohol. Heather bravely writes about the help she got from attending AA and how she considered it being her church. She and her husband were Christians, church folk, but AA had shown her something she found missing in local congregations. Sober Mercies merges the two, church and AA, in a comfortable space.
In early July 2016, New Spring Church, the largest church in South Carolina, fired their lead pastor, Perry Noble for his “alcohol abuse”. I read the headline in Christianity Today with some surprise. Only, perhaps, that it was a recognizable name. We’ve become accustomed to the fall of those standing in the pulpit. I’ve heard Perry speak and found him to be engaging in his style of presentation and authenticity. A couple of years ago, he talked openly about his bout with depression, another area where the church is too silent.
So what does all of this mean? Can you drink? Should you drink?
Maybe the question is, why are you drinking?
To be continued…