Friday, March 22, 2013

Using the Gospel to Justify Drinking?

There seems to be an attitude, especially among young Christians (by young I mean late teens on up to 30-somethings) that in order to share the Gospel with those who drink, the person sharing the Gospel must also drink. I was told that this is especially important in Europe: that it is “offensive” to sit and have a conversation in a pub and not drink alcohol.

My husband spent almost three weeks in Russia on a business mission trip with a secular organization. It goes without saying that in Russia, alcohol is a part of life. My husband does not drink. At first, the Russian businessmen he was working with were taken aback, but when they heard my husband’s explanation of why he doesn’t drink, they were fine, and in fact, respected my husband for his alcohol-free life.

To those who believe one must drink alcohol in order to share the Gospel with drinkers in America, Europe or anywhere else, I say: Be sure you are not using “sharing the Gospel” to justify your own desire to drink. Because--just a thought--what if the guy in the Irish pub is looking at you and thinking to himself, “This bloke is no different than me. Here he sits in this dark pub, drinking beer, and yet I’m supposed to believe that Christ has changed his life.” Our goal is not for folks to see or hear us, it’s for them to see and hear Jesus.

If the main motivation behind the “drinking is necessary to share the Gospel” ministry mindset is to justify one’s own drinking (and I believe it is), then Jesus is being used. The Gospel does not “need” alcohol as a prop. 

“For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16

“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
Romans 14:20-21

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12:1-4


chris said...

If the arguement that I must drink in order to witness to drinkers is valid, does that mean I must curse and swear in order to witness to people that curse and swear? or do I need to be an adulterer to witness to adulterers. Of course not. As Christians we are not called to blend in, we are called to stand out. I am not saying that drinking is sinful, I am saying that to say I must drink in order to witness to drinkers is bad theology Chris Spinney

Barb Harwood said...


Excellent points! John 15 and 17 are great places to go to find Jesus' take on how Christians are to live in the world but not be of the world.
Like you, I do not believe a drink here or there is a sin. However, I can count on one finger the person I know who can have "a drink here or there." Myself, along with many many others I know, have found nothing but regret in ever taking that first sip (and the media sheds light daily on the destruction alcohol leaves in its wake.)
Nobody ever sets out to be a drunk or to get addicted (I certainly never did. But it happened in spite of my so-called "self-determination" to not be an alcoholic). The invisible realm that opposes God does much influencing that we are never aware of, in addition to fleshly and worldly compulsion and impulse. So why play with fire? I know you agree that to be filled with the Spirit is a much more joyful, fulfilling path....
Thanks for stopping by!