Word Association Game: “Alcohol”

February 6, 2007 at 12:52 am (God thoughts, Random thoughts)

Somehow my conversation about bottled watered became a conversation about items you have to have a certain brand of. Echo made one tiny little reference to “boxed wine and cheap cigars” and it was on. It probably wouldn’t have been on if he hadn’t made a silly comment about going to church instead of watching the super bowl but whatever. It’s on. So I reluctantly put together a post for all of you who wish to squabble over the never ending squabbler subject; Alcohol.

The particular title of this post is not meant to be “catchy” but rather to actually play. I think most debates on the subject of alcohol are short lived scripturally speaking; “it’s ok to drink, but it’s sinful to get drunk”. We all know that, we all get that. if you disagree with that then your comments will be even more fun. The question isn’t really “can” but “should”.

I think that question can be answered by playing the word association game with the word “alcohol”. This afternoon I had the chance to get away, so I hiked up iron mountain. when i got to the top I was able to witness a beer commercial in action. it was hysterical but sad at the same time. Here’s the scenario. While hiking I was passed by a 30 something guy in really good shape running up the mountain. When I got to the peak there he was talking to a 30 something woman in really good shape who had evidently hiked up the peak with her lunch bag. It is three miles to the peak and it was HOT, but there was this woman drinking a beer. The two of them, both sweaty, both stinky, began a conversation by her offering him some beer. After a while they left together. How weird was this? Well the thing is a lot of people associate beer with events like this because they have seen the commercials. I always laughed at those commercials until now.

I don’t know if my point is being made here, I am kind of rambling but I just wonder what you think of when you hear “alcohol” or “beer” or “wine” or “liquor” or “margarita” etc?

then ask yourself if that’s the kind of lifestyle you want to be associated with. Same principals apply (as far as I’m concerned) to tattoos, secular music, sports, movies, dress etc. But let’s start with alcohol OK?



  1. Peyton Manning said,

    Are you asking us what we think of drinking alcohol or just hearing the word itself? You are saying we shouldn’t drink alcohol because hearing the word makes us think of smelly people who drink it on top of a mountain. I mean yes it’s silly to work out, hike, enjoy nature and drink alcohol. I’d rather drink alcohol after a long days work on my couch in front of the TV or with a piece of pizza. I don’t see how other people abusing alcohol makes it wrong for those who use it moderately. Like you said, if it’s association then you have to worry about playing poker, going to movies, watching awards shows, listening to secular music, etc. In fact, I think most of these things are worse than alcohol because using alcohol moderately isn’t sinful while I think making Brad and Angelina’s love child a must read in a magazine is far worse.

    Coffee has a stimulant in it that is just as addictive and also alters your behavior. I don’t see how you can’t view coffee in the same way.

  2. Matt S said,

    This is the litmus test I would like to use to distinguish drinking alcohol from the other activities mentioned.

    There is definite and strong correlation between alcohol abuse and spiritual, family, and financial breakdown. So many people (ministers included) have had a spiritual fall from grace because of alcohol abuse. So many families have been ruined because of alcohol abuse. So many people’s financial houses have been felled because of alcohol abuse.

    There is no such correlation when relating these things to tattoos, secular music, sports, movies, etc…

    Even gambling which is a huge problem pales in comparison with the devastation caused by alcohol abuse.

    There is such a fine line between drinking moderately and having an alcohol addiction that I would caution anyone to be very careful about making a choice to drink.

    You may say you are spiritually mature, have great self-control, and always know when you have had too much to drink, but to me the risk is not worth the reward.

    I have seen first hand the affect the decision to drink can have on a family and that is why I will never touch alcohol and make sure I do my best to insure my kids never do either.

  3. Albino Hayford said,

    it is a stumbling block to openly drink as a Christian. Alcoholism is such a problem, and has destroyed so many families, that maybe we should be willing to lay down our “right” to drink so as not to cause our brothers to stumble. Here’s what Paul says, talking about eating food sacrificed to idols:

    1 Corinthians 10

    23″Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others…31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

    Note that he says that we can “drink” to the glory of God, and even have the “right” to eat food sacrificed to idols, but couches those declarationsin the context of not causing our brothers to stumble…and clearly causing our brother to stumble trumps our Christian liberty.

    For this reason, I don’t drink alcohol.

  4. itsasecret2u said,

    If we’re playing word association then I would have to say…

    Alcohol makes me think “drunk.”

  5. Lants said,

    all i can think about is giving God praise because there is no alcohol in Dr Pepper 🙂

    but as for the word association… drunk makes me think “wasted”

    i think Lindsay and I are off the subject of the blog… oh well

  6. Anonymity Requested said,

    Matt S. What’s with the

    So many people (ministers included) have had a spiritual fall from grace because of alcohol abuse

    It would appear that Galatians 5:4, which says

    Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

    indicates that it is legalism (which, by the way, means an attempt to establish your own justification by means of law keeping), not libertarianism, that brings about the fall from grace.

    I can only conclude that by adding the word “spiritual” you intended to point your phrase “fall from grace” beyond the colloquial use of the expression. In other words, you meant “damned” as the Apostle did. Am I right?

    FWIW, my word association with your list of adult beverages is “taste bud revolt”. Give me valium any day.

  7. Echo_ohcE said,


    You said:
    “There is definite and strong correlation between alcohol abuse and spiritual, family, and financial breakdown. So many people (ministers included) have had a spiritual fall from grace because of alcohol abuse. So many families have been ruined because of alcohol abuse. So many people’s financial houses have been felled because of alcohol abuse.”

    – Echo:
    Yeah, many lives have been ruined because people abuse alcohol. What’s the problem in that situation? I know it looks like alcohol is destroying someone’s life, and they are a helpless innocent victim, but is that really what we think as Christians? Is the problem the alcohol or the wicked heart that resides within the abuser of alcohol? Sex can be abused too, but we don’t want to get rid of that. How many families have been destroyed by porn or other abuses of sex? The problem is not the alcohol, it’s the sinful heart. Here’s proof. If there were no such thing as alcohol, wouldn’t those people have found something else to be addicted to, to ruin their life? I contend that they would have found another way to manifest their idolatrous natures. SIN ruins families, and sin isn’t cured by abstaining from alcohol. Not drinking doesn’t make you holy. Only Christ can do that.

    You said:
    “I have seen first hand the affect the decision to drink can have on a family and that is why I will never touch alcohol and make sure I do my best to insure my kids never do either.”

    – Echo:
    Haven’t you ever heard that in houses where alcohol is forbidden, the tendency for the kids to go away to college and commence large scale binge drinking is much higher? Do you know a far greater percentage of Methodists are alcoholics than Jews? It’s because Methodists forbid it, and Jews don’t. Telling kids that alcohol is evil actually increases the chances that they’ll become alcoholics.

    If it’s sinful to drink, then Jesus sinned. And guess what, by having his drinking recorded in the Bible, every single Christian can see their Savior, their GOD drinking wine. Talk about a stumbling block!

    Man, I’m all for being careful of the weaker brother and not shoving alcohol in his face or whatever, but you guys are making up laws that Jesus didn’t obey. Don’t you see that?


  8. RubeRad said,

    Echo is right about Methodists & Jews; there are statistics to back it up. If you divide parents into three groups: alcoholics, moderates, and teetotalers, the alcoholism rate for their children is lowest in moderates. So if you don’t want your kids to grow up alcoholics, have a beer.

    Just kidding — if you haven’t taught yourself how to enjoy well-crafted alcoholic beverages, don’t force yourself. Just don’t teach your kids that they must be teetotalers. Teach them to obey the law. Teach them that when they are legal, if they choose to drink, they may well find alcohol to be pleasant. If you can’t teach them moderation by example, at least give them some words, and try to draw an analogy to some other example of moderation in your life.

    As for word association, when you say the word “alcohol”, I think cotton swabs and scraped knees. When you say the word “Bud” I get the associations Daniel got: lame sweaty hookups, losers in bars, childish frat boys, the movie “Beerfest” (RUN, don’t walk, AWAY from the blockbuster — if you want a Kwality stupid comedy, go for Idiocracy).

    But when you say the word “Beer”, or more specifically “Ale”, “Porter”, “Stout”, “IPA”, etc., I think of craft, gourmet, refinement, and tradition, like many people think of wine — the way many people have learned to think of coffee through Starbucks (and the “Starbucks-is-too-commercial” backlash). My theory is the same for coffee AND beer: spend enough money for the good stuff, that you can’t afford to abuse it! I would have the same theory for wine, but I haven’t been impressed by the wine I’ve tried, and I don’t have the energy to spend to learn about wine.

    Note also that alcohol served the critical function throughout history of water purification. Alcohol kills germs. Therefore beer & wine were the only reliable sources of safe drinking liquid throughout most of history. In the middle ages, even nuns and children were allocated like a gallon of “smallbeer” (somewhere between O’Douls and Bud Lite) per day. When the pilgrims landed on plymouth rock, the first building they erected was the church. Next up was the brewery.

    I’ll leave you with a great quote from Benjamin Franklin:

    “Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy”

  9. danielbalc said,

    Peyton- You of all people should know who devastating alcohol is. after all if it weren’t for your “liquored up idiot kicker” you might have 2 rings right now.

    Matt- I contend that gambling has equally devastating results but thats off topic. I agree with your points but disagree with the phrase “spiritual fall from grace” like anonymous I think you are straying into legalism with that. But yeah, I like you have seen devastating affects of alcohol (though it’s not as predominate in my case as it is in yours) and seek to avoid it for that reason but still wish to teach it wisely to my children.

    Albino- I couldn’t agree more.

    Secret- You hit the nail on the head. It’s almost impossible for someone to even think about alcohol without thinking about getting drunk. The point of my story is to illustrate how the beer commercials seek to change that association to people who are happy, living the life and successful. I think their powerful advertisements are indeed working.

    Lants- I just wanted to focus on the one word, “alcohol”.

    Anonymity- I think your perception of matts use of the term is off. I don’t think he means to imply that alcoholics fall from God’s grace beyond recovery but from rather human societal norms. I can’t answer for him though. BUt what you allude to is also a very valid point. It is the fear to avoid falling into legalism that gives the license for drinking. Ironically in these churches who advocate drinking we see very few tattoos, gambling even football watching. It seems that alcohol and tobacco are the two things that they will allow the use of to demonstrate their grace. That’s weird. I think balance is the key and their can’t be balance if you teach a false perception of alcohol that makes it appear as if it’s no big deal and not extremely dangerous.

    Echo- That unbalanced perspective I’m talking about appears to belong to you. Yes of course it is the sin inside the person that causes them to use the tool of alcohol to destroy their family. No one would argue against that. It’s the making the tool into no big deal that I am fighting against. Following your same logic I guess it’s ok then to look at soft core porn (r-rated sex scenes) once in a while, as long as we do it carefully and in a non lusting way. Say you really enjoy a good mystery movie and you read some reviews on Fatal Attraction and decide to go see it in the movies. Do you really think that’s wise? What if someone from your church is at the theater and sees you going to see that, how would you respond to them? Now maybe because you realize this you decide to wait till it comes on video and rent it (I say video because fatal attraction was so long ago but I can’t really think of another good example of a movie right now). Now you get it home and in the privacy of your home you can watch it without fear of making another brother or sister stumble. But wait. In the privacy of your home you are so much more prone to temptation. To let your thoughts get out of control. To let your lustings take over. Oh but the same things couldn’t possibly be said about alcohol, or could they?

  10. Bruce S. said,

    Following your same logic I guess it’s ok then to look at soft core porn (r-rated sex scenes) once in a while, as long as we do it carefully and in a non lusting way.

    I don’t think so, although you set up a nice trap. In reality the logic goes like this:

    Sex is to porn (soft or hard) as drinking wine (or beer) is to alcoholism.

    By equating soft porn with drinking you are begging the question right off the bat.

  11. danielbalc said,

    this is the point of the word association

    If you associate alcohol with gourmet beverages to be consumed in moderation such as rube confessed then

    alcohol = sex

    isn’t a fair comparison.

    If you associate alcohol with a beverage that you drink intentionally to excuse yourself to act in a certain manner then

    alcohol = porn

    is a fair comparison.
    I guess the breakdown comes when echo’s logic starts with this stated position, “if it is sinful to drink, then Jesus sinned.”

    No one starts from the position of “it is sinful to drink”.

    We start from a position of, “in our society it is unwise to drink as Christians.”

    Can anyone really argue this point?

    I’m equating soft porn with getting drunk, not drinking. I apologize for my lack of clarity in that.

  12. danielbalc said,

    If the biggest bozo on the west coast can make this statement then maybe we should pay attention.

    “I have come to the conclusion that I will be a better person without alcohol in my life.”

    By the way, when he says “alcohol” he is talking about wine of the gourmet variety. He owned a winery for crying out loud.

  13. itsasecret2u said,

    Peyton brings up an interesting point.

    Why do we not view other drugs the same way we view alcohol? We say coffee/chocolate/tea/soda are just fine, no question. We don’t have a problem with people using those things in excess, even though caffeine is a very powerful drug.

    Right now we have an “easy out” with illicit drugs. We don’t have to think about the ethics involved. They are illegal, thus forbidden for us to use. But what if pot is legalized? Will it be ok to smoke it in moderation? What if they legalize heroin? Shooting up in moderation ok? LSD was legal for quite a time after it was invented. If it were legal still (or another such drug was created), would dropping tabs in moderation be ok?

    I guess I’d like to challenge those on both sides of this issue to really consider the implications of your position. If you are completely against alcohol consumption for Christians, consider some of the “socially acceptable” drugs that you may never have questioned (caffeine). If you think drinking in moderation is fine and is very likely not to be a stumbling block, even in our society, extrapolate off your logic and see if you find your position on illicit drugs to be similar, were they legal. It may be a reality someday.

  14. itsasecret2u said,

    Re: 12

    I know a recovered alcoholic who used to get hammered every night drinking 64 oz of wine. 8 GLASSES OF WINE A NIGHT. This went on for over a decade until his oldest son was in high school, then he finally quit. Liquor certainly isn’t the only poison an addict picks, though that’s what we normally think of when we think of an “alcoholic.” Incidentally, excessive consumption of alcohol has pretty much destroyed every generation of this man’s family in one way or another. I hope the current generation, now all in adulthood, will break that cycle.

  15. danielbalc said,


    Secret, again we aren’t trying to bring in those other issues of different things that may or may not be good for you. The topic is alcohol, BUT since you brought it up. Your anti-caffeine bias is ridiculous. bring out all the pseudo-science and opinionated bologna you got but there is no way you will ever be able to rationally compare the destructive results of alcohol abuse to the destructive results of caffeine abuse.

  16. itsasecret2u said,

    Re; 15

    That’s not what I was implying. And I don’t have a bias. I happen to love coffee, soda, and chocolate. It’s really hard for me to not have those things (except chocolate because I do still eat it occasionally if it’s organic). I like herbal tea, though, which doesn’t have caffeine like black tea.

    I really wanted to address those who think alcohol consumption is totally 100% fine. I wanted to see if they felt the same about those other substances, applying the same logic they use with alcohol. I threw in the caffeine reference for those of us on the other side to challenge us to do the same. I could say caffeine, nicotine, prescription meds, or whatever. Any drug that is legal. I picked caffeine because it is the MOST socially acceptable.

    As for my “psuedo science,” you can say what you will. I have experienced first-hand the results of a proper diet and the results of an improper diet. Nothing you, the FDA, or any medical doctor can say will ever change my mind. And I don’t consider it my mission to change anyone else’s ideas about their diets. I do what I do because Western medicine and the standard American diet were completely incapable of helping me or my family with any of our medical problems. My son’s seizures are controlled with no medication. I am not on migraine meds of any sort, GERD medications, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety meds now, all of which I either used to take or were prescribed for me at one time. That’s enough proof for me. I don’t need an FDA-endorsed study to be able to see the value in what I do. Sorry that it’s not good enough for you, but I will not stop expressing my opinion on these things. Methinks you may be the one with the bias. “I like what I eat. Don’t tell me it’s not good for me!”

    Anyway… “Caffeine and its related substance theobromine (from tea and cocoa) are like sugar in their effects on the body. The stimulate the adrenal glands to release an adrenaline-like subtance, which in turn causes the liver to release sugar into the blood stream… The problem is that the delicate blood-sugar-regulartion mechanism cannot long tolerate the constant stimulation of habitual caffeine ingestion. Often the blood-sugar lowering mechanisms overreact, causing low blood sugar and its concomitant complaints of chronic fatigue, dizziness, depression, allergies, and behavior disorders… They affect the nervous system, leading to insomnia and restlessness. Prolonged use of caffeine can contribute to any one of a number of serious diseases, such as cancer, bone loss, mental disorders, and birth defects… It has been said that if coffee were introduced as a new drug today, it would not receive FDA approval.” (And that’s saying a lot because they approved trans fats which are the actual culprits of heart disease and high cholesterol, artifical colors proven to be carcinogens like Red 40, and a host of drugs later proven to have very serious and/or deadly side-effects.) That quote is from “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.

    But, again, that wasn’t really the point of my original post.

  17. Pablo Honey said,

    Sally Fallon, meet Tomas DePaulis PhD. These quotes are taken from this article on WebMD revealing the MANY health benefits of drinking coffee and caffeine.

    “Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,”

    “Consider this: At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s, with three showing the more they drink, the lower the risk. Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily can translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gallstones.”

    “People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee compared to those who don’t,”

    “What caffeine likely does is stimulate the brain and nervous system to do things differently, That may include signaling you to ignore fatigue or recruit extra units of muscle for intense athletic performance. Caffeine may even have a direct effect on muscles themselves, causing them to produce a stronger contraction. But what’s amazing about it is that unlike some performance-enhancing manipulation some athletes do that are specific for strength or sprinting or endurance, studies show that caffeine positively enhances all of these things.”

    “Coffee has large amounts of antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and tocopherols, and minerals such as magnesium. All these components have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. This increased sensitivity improves the body’s response to insulin.”

    “There recently was a study from Brazil finding that children who drink coffee with milk each day are less likely to have depression than other children, In fact, no studies show that coffee in reasonable amounts is in any way harmful to children.”

    “On the flip side, it’s clear that coffee isn’t for everyone. Its legendary jolt in excess doses — that is, more than whatever your individual body can tolerate — can increase nervousness, hand trembling, and cause rapid heartbeat. Coffee may also raise cholesterol levels in some people and may contribute to artery clogging. But most recent large studies show no significant adverse affects on most healthy people, although pregnant women, heart patients, and those at risk for osteoporosis may still be advised to limit or avoid coffee. The bottom line: People who already drink a lot of coffee don’t have to feel ‘guilty’ as long as coffee does not affect their daily life, They may actually benefit from coffee habits in the long run.”

    Now just to be clear on this matter I do not drink coffee or soda. But I regularly drink non-sweetened iced tea so that I can get some caffeine. I do agree that sugar can be the enemy, for me personally at least. Since I have stopped drinking soda I have lost almost 20 pounds and I feel much healthier. I also am free from many of the stomach aches and “digestive problems” that plagued me.

  18. danielbalc said,

    ENOUGH! This isn’t about caffeine! (Although i will admit Pablo’s case seems more convincing then secrets heart wrenching testimony). Back to the topic.

    Does anyone want to argue against the wisdom of abstaining from alcoholic beverages?

  19. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 11

    You said:
    “No one starts from the position of “it is sinful to drink”. We start from a position of, “in our society it is unwise to drink as Christians.” Can anyone really argue this point?”

    – Echo:
    You’re right. Jesus had no idea that his drinking would be read about in today’s culture. HAD HE KNOWN about today’s fundamentalist/legalistic Christian culture that exists in today’s evangelical churches, he SURELY would have refrained from drinking at all in his life on earth, and he would have NEVER promised to abstain from wine until that day when we see him again. Boy, if only he could have looked down through history and seen the struggles we go through today, he wouldn’t have made it so hard on us. He would have NEVER tasted wine, and he certainly wouldn’t have commanded us to use it in the sacrament!

    Sigh, I guess it’s just a shame that God couldn’t have had more foresight.

    You’re right Daniel, Jesus didn’t sin, he’s just ignorant of today’s culture, incompetent, and unwise. He’s a weak Savior, but we can forgive him his faults, can’t we?


  20. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 12

    Isn’t it ironic that you call a man a bozo and then ask us to heed his wisdom?


  21. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 18

    To even say that abstinence from alcohol is wisdom is to call Jesus unwise. I’m assuming that you don’t see that logical implication. Maybe we should discuss whether or not there is such an implication in such a statement.


  22. Echo_ohcE said,


    Ooooh! I’ve got a question for you!

    Perhaps you could explain to me how Jesus’ drinking in those days is wise and good and proper, but drinking today isn’t. I’m sure you want to make that distinction, so let’s talk about why you make it. I of course will argue that it can’t be made, but since I don’t know on what grounds you’re making it, I can’t effectively argue against it.


  23. Aldous Huxley said,

    “Two thousand pharmacologists and bio-chemists were subsidized. Six years later it was being produced commercially. The perfect drug. Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant. All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects. Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache or a mythology. Stability was practically assured.”

  24. danielbalc said,

    Echo, I’m curious, do you wash your hands before you eat dinner? Do you think such a practice is wise? You know that Jesus didn’t right?

    There are plenty of things that we do and don’t do that Jesus did and didn’t do that demonstrate wisdom.

    Jesus never ate pork or shellfish. Do you? Is it wise?

    Jesus had a beard. Do you? Is this wise?

    Jesus allowed John to lean up against his chest as they reclined at the table. Is there a man in your life whom you allow to do this? Is it wise?

    Jesus never got married. You did. Was that wise?

    Does anyone besides Echo, being intellectually honest with themselves, want to assert that I am calling Jesus unwise? This is an open forum and if I gave that implication I don’t mind being called out on it.

    Echo, I am not calling you a fool for enjoying an alcoholic beverage, I am simply saying you have a less sophisticated understanding of wisdom.

  25. danielbalc said,

    Jesus also said, “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone thrown around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!” Matthew 18:6-7

    and Albino has already quoted Paul’s take on this (post 3).

    And Solomon weighs in with Proverbs 20. The first verse of this chapter? “Wine is a mocker beer is a brawler, whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

    And then there is King Lemuel’s Mom teaching him crazy stuff like… “It is not for kings, o Lemuel- not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” Proverbs 31:4-7

    I would prefer to be in the “ruler” category rather than the “perishing” and “anguished” crew.

  26. itsasecret2u said,


    I will remain on topic when you stop being mean. You called me ridiculous, my nutritional beliefs “psuedo-science” and bologna, so I defended myself. If my post is so offensively off-topic, delete it.

  27. Matt S said,


    “Fall from grace” was a figure of speach. I will be more clear next time.



    In my house my kids will be forbidden to drink alcohol until they are 21 because it is the LAW and by your estimation if I let them drink therefore breaking the law it would be sin, right?

    I do not understand what you will be doing with your kids? Putting wine in their sippy cups, so as not to make them more prone to drinking at a later age?

    I will also educate my kids on the dangers of alcohol, that will not be hard with their mother’s experience, but once they turn 21 if they are still under my roof I will not force them to obey, only hope that I have done enough to educate them to make the right decision

  28. itsasecret2u said,

    P.S. I was talking about ETHICS, not nutrition, which I thought was directly-related to what we were talking about.

  29. Echo_ohcE said,


    I still don’t understand why Jesus’ drinking, which is now part of our Bible, is wise and good then, and why it’s unwise to drink now.

    No, I hate washing my hands.


  30. Bruce S. said,

    Briefly, I think rather than eradicating drunkeness within your body (of believers) by codifying new “shoulds”, a program of trying to identify why the problem of drunkenes exists in your body (your local church) needs to be pursued.

    Outlawing drunkeness won’t work. I believe that latching on to the gospel in all its facets will eradicate the hopelessness and despair that Christians try to combat by numbing themselves. This will solve the problem of drunkeness in your churches.

  31. Echo_ohcE said,


    I don’t have kids, so I can’t accurately predict how I will handle alcohol with my kids. I suppose my example of moderation is the best answer I can give you, but I don’t think I’ll get into speculating beyond that. I can tell you, however, that I will never, ever tell them that the sin of the alcoholic is the fault of wine, since God is the one who gave us wine.


  32. Echo_ohcE said,


    I’m glad that you found verses in the OT that Jesus never read. He must have missed that part about wine being a mocker, and how the king’s mother advised her son not to drink wine. I wonder if Jesus ever read the book of Proverbs? You’ve probably stumbled across something he didn’t understand or didn’t care about.

    Are you sure that you understand those verses in the same way Jesus did? I mean, Jesus certainly READ those passages, but he still turned water into wine at a wedding, serving it to a large number of people, and he drank himself, earning him accusations from the legalists at the time of being a drunkard and a glutton.

    But the strange thing is, you read those verses and conclude that it’s unwise to drink. Jesus read them and concluded that he could drink and encourage others to do so. I wonder if you and Jesus are interpreting those passages in exactly the same way.

    I guess not.


  33. Albino Hayford said,

    I don’t think anybody here is advocating “outlawing” alcohol consumption. I think everyone agrees that Christians have a “right” to drink. Yes, Jesus drank wine, and yes, it was fermented (sorry, Pensacola Christian College and Bob Jones University), otherwise it would be silly to choose elders who are not given to much “grape juice”.

    I advise Christians to avoid causing their brother to stumble, and, in my view, alcohol is a HUGE problem within our culture. Since it has destroyed so many lives and families, and since so many people struggle with addiction, I choose to lay down my “right” to drink alcohol in order to not be a stumbling block to my brother.

    Again, this is something I have chosen to do, and something I advise others to do within our cultural context. In other cultures and countries (Spain, England, etc.), drinking is almost universally accepted in Christian circles (they go out to the pub after church for fellowship and beer is served at MacDonald’s). But we live within our culture here in the States, and here, I believe, it is a stumbling block.

    In conclusion, no, you can’t defend “not one drop” from the Scripture, but, yes, you can advise people to avoid alcohol and consider their weaker brother over their own “rights”.

    Pick it up, pop it open, pour it out.

  34. Echo_ohcE said,


    It’s not about a “right” to drink. To think in these terms is to miss the point, in my estimation.

    This is going to sound really foreign, but please hear me out. Wine is part of the goodness of creation. It is a GOOD thing. God gave it to us – it is a gift to be enjoyed to his glory. To use wine PROPERLY – that is, not an abusive way as I have described – actually brings God glory. It glorifies him.

    Here are some things that are similar. Enjoying gifts that God has given us, such as enjoying your spouse, enjoying beautiful flowers, enjoying a sunset, etc. The enjoyment of these things brings God glory, because the enjoyment of them is a manifestation of our gratitude for his gifts. If we are grateful that God gave us the wife he did, then we will enjoy her, to his glory. If we are grateful for the sunsets he gives us, we will enjoy them, to show our gratitude.

    Imagine you give a child a toy for Christmas. How do you know he appreciates it? He plays with it, right? And how do you know if he doesn’t like it and doesn’t appreciate it? When he doesn’t play with it.

    Now, pretend you’re a child, and God has given you a gift. Wine. Enjoy it to his glory, because you’re GRATEFUL to him for it. You APPRECIATE it.

    When you advise people not to drink for any reason, you are denying that God has given us wine, and that it is a GOOD gift. If it is a good gift, then we should enjoy it. If we shouldn’t use it, then how could it be a good gift at the same time?

    When you don’t drink out of fear of alcoholism, or fear of legalism, or whatever other reason, for the sake of the weaker brother, whatever – you are saying to God that his gifts are not good. You are the child who doesn’t play with the toy he has been given.

    You will of course disagree, and that’s fine.

    I’m not asking you to see it my way. But you keep acting as if I am obstinately insisting that I have a RIGHT to drink, and who cares about the weaker brother. That’s not my argument, and I wish you’d stop making it on my behalf. Your characterization of what is on my heart is patently false, and is absurd. I have never said that I have a right to alcohol, and I have never said that I want to be a stumbling block or that I don’t care if I am a stumbling block. What I have said is that the law of God doesn’t forbid us to drink, and in fact, the Bible says that God GAVE US WINE to make our hearts glad. When we refuse to drink it, for whatever reason, well, you’re refusing to partake of God’s goodness.

    I’m not quite ready to say that refusing to drink is sinful, but I think the attitude behind it “sucks”. It totally sucks. I am extremely offended at the attitude. I find it to be arrogant. I can’t seem to get past it. Maybe I’m out of line, but I see it like refusing to look at sunsets. Now, I’m not a moron, I recognize that sunsets and alcohol are two very different things, but they ARE similar in that they are both good gifts from God meant to be enjoyed. That’s their purpose, to be enjoyed. And God is revealed to us in those gifts, so there’s a real sense in which enjoying the gifts of God is enjoying GOD himself. And when we refuse to acknowledge the goodness of those gifts, well, it seems like refusing to acknowledge God is good.

    As a matter of fact, I do think it’s sinful to refuse to acknowledge that alcohol is a good gift from God meant to be enjoyed, “to make the heart glad”. If you cannot acknowledge that God has given us alcohol for our enjoyment, you are denying what the Scripture says. I can’t get around it.

    I’m really sorry. I know you find me appalling. You all probably do. But what can I do? Should I lie to you about what I see in the Scriptures? Should I just tell you what you want to hear to make you feel better? I know I’m coming across as accusing all of you of sin. But which of us isn’t a sinner? I’m not condemning you. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could see our own sin as clearly as the sin of others and repented regularly, confessing our sins to one another freely because of our certain hope in Christ’s forgiveness?

    I refuse to deny the goodness of creation.

    Secret asked what would happen if drugs were legalized, well, I have no idea. God in his mercy has kept them illegal. I don’t have to figure it out right now. And I am glad of it, because that’s a tougher question. With wine, it is affirmed in the Bible. Pot or other drugs, like heroin, well, I don’t know. Those are clearly different. The Bible clearly outlaws drunkenness, or intoxication. The reason that I have asserted for the Bible’s condemnation of drunkenness is because people get drunk to escape from reality. God is revealed in the creation, so to try to escape from reality is to try to escape from God, to try to close your eyes to him. So, drugs also shouldn’t be used this way. I’m not sure that I see the point of heroin if it isn’t to escape from reality. Alcohol is different in this regard. But I dunno, it’s still a tough call.


  35. RubeRad said,

    I think this whole discussion is off-base. The question “what word associations do you get from the word ‘alcohol'” is the wrong question. Why would you assume that associations that spring from our fallen natures, largely influenced by our fallen culture, would be useful? The right question is, what is the biblical view of alcohol?

    In the bible, wine is an integral part of cult and culture. There were wine offerings under Moses, Jesus made wine for a wedding, Jesus instituted wine into the Lord’s supper. It was also common knowledge that too much of a good thing would be sinful, which is why there are so many verses that say just that. But not a one that says that the right way to deal with that potential for sin is to abstain completely.

    Actually, now that I think about it, if you want to make a biblical case for the appropriateness of teetotaling for some individuals, I would go to the Nazirite laws in Num. 6. Is there any equivalent concept in the New Covenant to taking a Nazirite vow? These guys couldn’t drink wine, or even eat fresh grapes! But could they have had some 20-year old single-malt oak-aged scotch whisky? Probably not, as that’s “any strong drink”. How about a beer? That’s not a strong drink, compared to wine. How about apple juice (or hard cider)? Or something more local — pomegranate juice?

  36. itsasecret2u said,

    Echo and Rube,

    Do you suppose there is a point, if any, at which a believer should abstain completely from alcohol and what is the scriptural basis for this? Is it always denying the goodness of creation or refusing to follow Jesus’ example to abstain?

  37. danielbalc said,

    I think I have failed to be clear on my position. Let me restate it.

    I don’t care if you drink.

    I do not think it is sinful to drink.

    I am glad for those who enjoy an alcoholic beverage responsibly.

    I personally don’t drink because I don’t care for the taste, cost and effects.

    If I did drink I wouldn’t do so in highly public places because of the “associations” that are connected to alcohol. (I would have a different take on this outside of America as albino referenced #33)

    I happen to think this is a wise position to take and that the Bible agrees it is a wise position to take.

    Thus far the only arguments I see against it being wise to abstain from alcohol is to say, “well Jesus drank alcohol”.

    I consider this a weak argument. (As I stated earlier, Jesus had a beard, does this mean it is unwise to shave?)

    Rube has now challenged the heart of this discussion (associations) by pointing out the biblical associations of alcohol. I think this is ill advised because for every positive association you may find in the scriptures you can probably find 2 negative associations. Or if you prefer lets consider other things that were spoken of positively in the Bible that you probably don’t participate in. Do we really want to discuss the numerous cultural changes that give us a different perspective on things like bread, fish and oil. Or the cultural practices like washing of feet or repenting in sackcloth and ashes? What about the use of musical instruments? It’s crazy to pretend like the culture doesn’t exist.

    I think, but I may be wrong, that those who are arguing against the wisdom of individually abstaining from alcohol are more against the demanding of others to abstain from alcohol. A point I agree with, but a point that no one is actually arguing for.

  38. Matt S said,

    How literal should the Bible be taken in discussing this topic?

    When the Bible says “wine” does it mean it as we understand it today or does it just represent an “alcoholic beverage”

    If the former is true should Christians feel as much liberty in drinking other alcoholic beverages such as hard liquor or beer?

    I would never condemn anyone or look down on anyone because they choose to drink in moderation. I do not have a problem with it.

    I just feel it is such a fine line between moderation and drunkeness(and therfore a fine line between not sinning and sin) that you would be hard pressed to convince me that those who drink in moderation have never been drunk.

    Therefore I choose personally not to drink.

  39. RubeRad said,

    Do you suppose there is a point, if any, at which a believer should abstain completely from alcohol and what is the scriptural basis for this? Is it always denying the goodness of creation or refusing to follow Jesus’ example to abstain?

    I think consumption of alcohol is entirely a matter of Christian liberty, a matter of taste, and up to the individual. ‘Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”‘ If you don’t enjoy alcohol, I’m not going to force it on you. And I hope nobody forces cigars on me!

    There is however one exception, which will probably spark further debate. I think that use of grape juice in communion, instead of the wine that Jesus used, is kind of a cop-out, comparable (although less extreme) than, say, using kool-aid or bug-juice for communion.

    For churches who use juice instead of wine, why do you use grape juice? Presumably because you want to follow Jesus’ example, as closely as you can. But why not orange juice? Why not Dr. Pepper? Why not water? Why not white grape juice? Because it’s supposed to look like blood. So why not Pomegranate juice? Why not blak-cherri kool-aid?

    I understand concerns about causing alcoholic brothers to stumble by forcing them to drink alcohol, but it seems to me that the context of communion is such that it would not stimulate temptation in that way. You’re at church, you’re in the midst of all your brothers and sisters, there’s a tiny little cup, there’s no opportunity to overindulge (1 Cor 11:22). I just don’t see an alcoholic running out of church with the taste of wine on his tongue, compelled to go get drunk. But it’s probably I don’t understand what makes alcoholics tick. Thanks to God, I don’t have tendencies to substance abuse (I typically keep a few beers in the fridge, and forget to drink them!)

    My church recently switched from all-juice to half-juice, half-wine (separate cups), which I think is a decent compromise. On a funny note, my #1 son, who was recently interviewed and received for communion, once accidentally grabbed a wine cup. Boy was he surprised! You would have thought he drank Dran-O or something! If it makes you teetotallers happy, he resolved at that point to never drink alcohol again in his life. (But he is notorious for not sticking with spur-of-the-moment resolutions)

  40. Matt S said,

    My opinion:

    Grape juice tastes better

    Kids wont accidently take the wrong cup(like Rubes son)

    You wont cause anyone to stumble, mainly anyone that has a tendency to overdrink.

    (I would say just as someone who is trying to quit smoking having one puff of a cigarette can send them into tailspin, the same could happen to someone trying to quit drinking)

  41. Echo_ohcE said,

    Has it ever ocurred to anyone that the stigma often attached to alcohol is a direct result of the legalistic attitudes that eventually led to prohibition? It is legalism that claims that alcohol is inherently evil that causes us all to cower in fear of alcohol, as if it’s a loaded gun or something. What does it say about our hope in the Spirit at work within us that we are so terrified of alcohol for fear of abusing it? Boy, if we had this attitude about everything…

    You know, most of us sin almost constantly by what we say. We yell at family members, curse other drivers, say mean things, etc.

    How come your fear of sinning doesn’t drive you to refuse to speak? Why not cut out your tongue to avoid all that sin?

    But how many of you refuse to speak? How many have taken a vow of silence? It’s a trick question – you couldn’t answer if you had. And yet, your use of your voice results in probably the majority of your sinful behavior.

    So keep talking, and I’ll keep drinking. Thanks.


  42. Matt S said,


    You must really like to drink becuase you are fighting this as valiantly as you fight for the importance of the gospel.

    No one is saying alcohol is, “inherently evil” as you keep insisting. No one “cowers in fear of alcohol”.

    Just keep on drinking bro!

  43. RubeRad said,

    But how many of you refuse to speak? How many have taken a vow of silence? It’s a trick question – you couldn’t answer if you had. And yet, your use of your voice results in probably the majority of your sinful behavior.

    For all you know, Echo, I have taken a vow of silence, and blogging is my outlet…

    Grape juice tastes better

    And Cake tastes better than bread. And ice cream tastes better than cake! And Green Flash West Coast IPA tastes better than grape juice! I don’t think tasting better is a valid principle for what to serve in the Lord’s Supper.

    What if somebody had a phobia of water — would you baptize them in a tub of spaghetti sauce?

  44. Echo_ohcE said,


    There’s no chance you’ve taken a vow of silence. And you’re breaking it by *virtually* speaking here if you have.

    By the way, grape juice does NOT taste better. Wine is excellent.

    In fact, we use port in our communion. It’s absolutely delicious.


  45. Echo_ohcE said,


    You said:
    “You must really like to drink becuase you are fighting this as valiantly as you fight for the importance of the gospel.”

    – Echo:
    And somewhere, off in the distance, a rooster crowed as the sun just began to peek over the horizon.

    Meanwhile, some old lady at a Roman bingo game finally got the A 24 she was looking for.

    Another man swung his hammer, and hit it squarely on the head.

    CRACK! It was the sound of the baseball bat breaking in two as the 48 year old fresh out of retirement hit his first grand slam.


  46. Matt S said,


    Of course it is not valid way to make a decision, it is what I prefer. If my church decided on wine for communion I would just have to deal with the poor taste.

    What about the other reasons listed are they good enough to refrain from serving wine?

  47. Echo_ohcE said,


    If there were a good reason for NOT serving wine, don’t you think it would have ocurred to GOD?!!!???!!!???!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! And if it had ocurred to him, don’t you think he would have refrained from commanding us to use it in the Lord’s Supper?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


  48. itsasecret2u said,


    Personally, I think that the main reason alcohol has the stigma it does is because it is a destructive poison in so many peoples’ lives. Does this mean it is evil? No, of course not. We are evil. We corrupt the good things of God all the time. It’s just like sex in our culture (or the whole world, for that matter). It has become completely distorted and polluted from what God intends it to be.

    Honestly, I like wine. I like beer. I’m not going to lie. If it seemed wise for me to drink it, I would. But, as I mentioned a long time ago, I am a lightweight. When I say 3 or 4 sips does me in, I’m not exaggerating. But I am 5’2 and 110 pounds on a heavy day, so what do you want from a girl? (Did I just confess my weight on a blog???) I simply cannot drink without getting drunk (or at least tipsy). Even if this were not the case, I am married to a man whose family has been ripped apart by alcoholism for generations. His grandfather jumped off the Coronado bridge (drunk) and killed himself. His father is the man I mentioned before who drank 64 oz of wine a night for years. We quit socially drinking a year and a half ago when my husband realized he was beginning to crave alcohol. He was slipping into the addictive pattern of the men in his family that he swore he would not follow. Needless to say, me drinking (especially in our house) would probably be a stumbling block to this man, whom I love.

    A great many people could tell you similar stories about their own families or people they know.

    So… to say it is legalism that has given alcohol its negative stigma is a stretch. I think the rampant alcohol abuse in our society has done that on its own without the help of any teetotalers.

  49. Matt S said,

    BTW someone fill me in on how you do those quote block things that Rube has in his posts, that would make life easier for me thanks.

  50. danielbalc said,

    Block quoting requires slick xhtml skills. I don’t got em. Actually virtually everyone but rube messes it up and the blogmaster has to go fix it. But maybe Rube can explain it in way to help you.

  51. Matt S said,


    So what do you say to the thousands of churches that do not serve wine?

  52. Matt S said,

    I think I started a new fire

  53. RubeRad said,

    Matt (& all) take out the extra spaces (I hope this works!)

    paste here something stupid somebody else said

    Then write a witty rejoinder. Don’t forget the slash / in the closing tag.

    What about the other reasons listed are they good enough to refrain from serving wine?

    As I said, I’m not convinced that communion would send a recovering alcoholic into a tailspin. I also have no problem with a kid drinking half an ounce of wine. (although this is crossing the line!)

    So what do you say to the thousands of churches that do not serve wine?

    I’m thinking he’d say exactly the same thing.

  54. Echo_ohcE said,


    Well, I have to agree that you have a point there. I think you’re right, legalism about alcohol alone hasn’t given alcohol the stigma that it has, particularly among evangelicals.

    What has also contributed more than anything is the repulsive therapy culture that calls everything a disease, effectively denying our responsibility for our actions (sin). This mindset has preached to the alcoholic that it’s not his fault, that alcohol has destroyed him, not the other way around.

    The Bible makes it very clear that the problem is our wicked hearts. The abusers of alcohol should not blame their sinfulness on alcohol, but they should look inward at their hearts. There is idolatry there.

    That being said, if someone finds that they cannot responsibly drink alcohol, it is good to stop drinking. However – and this is very important – let that person know well that they have not actually solved the problem. They have taken a good step to preventing some of the consequences of the problem, but they haven’t actually solved the problem. The problem is in the heart. The problem is a sinful heart.

    The cure is simple. His name is Jesus Christ. A good measured dose of law and gospel will go a long way toward helping the cause. I’m reading a great book all about it for a counseling class.

    Christian counseling 101: the problem is sin, the cure is Christ. Any questions? Hahahahaha…


  55. Echo_ohcE said,



    I don’t say anything to them. What does God say in his Word?


  56. RubeRad said,

    It didn’t work. here you go instead

  57. RubeRad said,

    That being said, if someone finds that they cannot responsibly drink alcohol, it is good to stop drinking.

    Another applicable verse that I haven’t detected yet in this thread: Matt 18:7-9:

    “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

  58. Matt S said,


    As I said, I’m not convinced that communion would send a recovering alcoholic into a tailspin.

    Why do you suppose this “grape juice” thing started?

  59. Matt S said,

    thanks for the blockquote help!

  60. Echo_ohcE said,


    I’m actually glad you brought that passage up. Neitzsche quotes that passage in one of his books, and then goes on to comment that thankfully no Christian has ever heeded that advice and gouged out his own eyes. This of course only helps to underscore that N misses Jesus’ point, which ought to come as no surprise.

    Jesus said that if your eye causes you to sin, cut it out, right? So how come the cure for pornography “addictions” in Christian circles isn’t simply gouging out your eyes? I mean seriously, if a guy can’t stop looking at porn, why not just cut his eyes out, tell him to move back home with mom and dad, and spend the rest of his life reading the Bible in braile?

    But no one does this. It’s not because there isn’t anyone out there who isn’t zealous enough about sin. Believe me, there are some young Christian men who are almost ready to cut out/off more than just their eyes, and once upon a time, some people in the church actually DID do that.

    But common sense says that a porn addict has a problem that runs deeper than the problem cutting his eyes out can solve. Even without his eyes, he’d still lust after women. He’d find…other ways…to manifest it. I could give examples, but I’d rather not. But if someone really needs examples before they’ll buy this argument, I’ll give them. Anyway, he’d still find a way to manifest his lust. His lust is not contained in his eyes.

    Jesus certainly could figure this out, if little old me and probably most people can figure this out. Jesus’ point was this: it ISN’T your eye that causes you to sin. It ISN’T your hand. You can’t solve sin problems this way, otherwise it’d be foolish not to gouge out your eyes to solve a porn addiction.


    PS The application to alcohol? Yes, stop drinking if you have a problem, but you haven’t solved the problem by ceasing to drink. You’ve only stopped some of the consequences. There is a sin problem that needs addressing with the gospel.

  61. itsasecret2u said,

    Well, I have to agree that you have a point there.

    I’m sorry, Echo, I don’t know that I read too far after this. I’m still ridin’ high from that statement.


  62. danielbalc said,


    Another applicable verse that I haven’t detected yet in this thread

    See number 25

  63. RubeRad said,

    Nice blockquotes. I hereby certify you as an official geek-in-training. Go forth and blog.

    To answer your question, it got started by legalists that threw out the alcohol-baby with the bathwater-of-drunkenness. It was called prohibition, you might have heard of it. If you keep stressing that you are not trying to force anybody to abstain, surely you must agree that the prohibition amendment was a bad idea!

    However, check this out: I have no problem with the concept of a dry county (allowing for exceptions for churches to serve communion). If a secular government has a mandate from its citizenry to ban alcohol, go for it.

    How backwards is that?

  64. RubeRad said,

    And by “backwards”, I mean how strange is it that I would not condemn a civil ban on alcohol, given my above-expressed views on teetotalers…

  65. RubeRad said,

    The point being, it is OK for legislators to be legalists. But it’s not OK for Christians.

  66. danielbalc said,

    Why did you start at verse 7 and not verse 6? Why did I stop at verse 8 and not verse 9?

  67. Matt S said,

    Yes, stop drinking if you have a problem, but you haven’t solved the problem by ceasing to drink.

    What constitutes a problem? Getting drunk once? Once a week? Once a month?

  68. RubeRad said,

    Why did you start at verse 7 and not verse 6? Why did I stop at verse 8 and not verse 9?

    Just because it was one paragraph with its own heading in ESV. Here’s the whole chapter: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=47&chapter=18&version=47

  69. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 61

    I wish you would keep reading…


  70. itsasecret2u said,


    I did, I was just kidding.

  71. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 67

    You said:
    “What constitutes a problem? Getting drunk once? Once a week? Once a month?”

    – Echo:
    Secret was talking about her husband – who was a casual drinker. But he said he noticed himself starting to become addicted or whatever, and so he stopped drinking, not wanting to turn out like some people he knew. So if you want to have the problem Secret is defining more clearly laid out, you’ll have to ask her.

    For my part, I wouldn’t be too quick to label someone an alcoholic. When I think of an alcoholic, the image that I conjure up in my mind is the guy who must have alcohol in his body at all times. The guy that shakes when he hasn’t had alcohol in a while. In short, the movie, “Leaving Las Vegas” is a good picture of an alcoholic. That’s not to say that that’s a good movie. It’s very disturbing and very sad. I don’t look for it at the video store. But it was a very real portrayal of an alcoholic in my mind. Maybe that does make it a good movie. I dunno.

    So no, getting drunk once doesn’t make someone an alcoholic. But getting drunk once does signal that there is a problem. It’s just that the problem isn’t alcoholism, because alcoholism, in my mind, refers to an addiction. Getting drunk once means you got drunk, not that you’re addicted to being drunk.

    There is a problem though, in the person who gets drunk. Getting drunk – and you can just take my word for it if you’ve never been drunk – involves a certain greed. There’s a greediness to it. That’s why I talk about it being idolatry. There’s a willingness to serve the alcohol, a greediness. It’s very much like lust. Maybe you can relate to that, maybe you can’t. But there’s almost a craving that necessarily must be involved in getting drunk.

    As the world, reality slips further and further away, and as you get more and more wrapped up in the physical effects of alcohol, becoming swept away by them, there’s something inside the person that says, “More.” This is necessary to get drunk. This is necessary to get swept away in the first place.

    Consider Secret’s admission above that she gets tipsy after a few sips, not to mention a whole glass. She probably doesn’t like getting tipsy too much. I don’t like getting tipsy myself. I can tell when I’ve had just a little too much, because I start to get hot. I start to feel a little woosey, and I don’t like it. The fact that I don’t like it makes me say to myself, “Dang! I’ve had too much. No more.” And that’s that. Before everyone freaks out, it doesn’t happen very often, so don’t go getting all excited. But yes, I’ve been drunk before. I had a bad couple of years in college. Ugh. So if you want to know what being given over to drunkenness, I’m happy to tell you all about it.

    Having been one who was given over to drunkenness, I can tell you that I look back on those experiences – at least what I can remember – and I see the things I did, and the feelings I felt, and I can tell you that it’s completely different for the Christian who is a moderate drinker.

    But you guys don’t want to hear about that. What you want to know is how I, as a pastor, will deal with someone who has a drinking problem. How will I counsel him, given that I don’t see alcohol as sinful? Will I tell him that he should just give up alcohol and never go back to it? Will I tell him that he’s cursed as someone who simply can’t handle alcohol, and that he lacks the maturity to handle it?

    Well, I’ll tell him that he should stop drinking. Give it up. Knock it off!

    But that doesn’t solve the real problem. It doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. The question MUST be asked, and the answer MUST be found: WHY is he drinking so heavily? That is a much, much deeper question, and it HAS to be addressed. Well, probably, for example anyway, he drinks heavily because he wants to escape from something in his life. What is it? Is it his family? Some guilt for some past sins? Is it work he seeks to run from? Maybe he really doesn’t believe, and so to ease his guilt he goes to church, but turns to the bottle to help him forget. You can’t always figure it out right away. Sometimes it takes time getting to know someone, loving them, in order to ascertain exactly what the problem is.

    But one thing is certain. This will be true of every single person who drinks too much. It is not the Spirit within them driving them to do it. It is the sinful nature, waging war against the Spirit that drives them to do it. At the root of all overindulgence of alcohol is some kind of sin. Whatever kind of sin it is in particular remains to be seen, and is different in every case, BUT, you can be SURE that the problem is sin ultimately.

    So now what? What would I do? Well, you have to get them to see their sin, you have to help them discover it. Once you’ve figured out what it is by talking and asking questions, etc, you can help to guide them, to shepherd them, to discover their sin. When they discover it, they need to confess it. They need to confess it to God first and foremost, to themselves, to others, etc. The sin must be brought out into the light, and the person needs to be made to see it and acknowledge it. That MUST take place. That’s the first goal.

    But you aren’t done yet as a pastor. You don’t ever, ever, ever leave it there as if your work is done. The sinner who has confessed his sin needs to know that God forgives him in Christ. He needs to hear it. He needs to see it in the Scriptures. He needs to take that truth and make it his own profession. He needs to confess that he is a sinner, and that in Christ there is hope for redemption, and for reconciliation with God, our Father.

    But you still aren’t done. Then you’ve got to encourage the person to fruitful obedience. If they have wronged someone, they need to go confess to them and seek forgiveness. But this is only the beginning of healing. The healing will be a lifetime process. He needs to confess and be forgiven and he needs to be held accountable to lay those former sins aside, putting off the old man and putting on Christ.

    Now such a man is equipped to grow in grace and faith in Christ, to grow in maturity through the regular preaching of the Word and the sacraments. In time, his maturity will grow, and it will be sufficient for him to be able to enjoy alcohol responsibly to the glory of God. Undoubtedly, he will be enjoying it for the first time, because he never enjoyed it before, because it was his master before. It is no longer his master.

    As Paul says, sin shall no longer be your master, for you are not under law, but under grace. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to obey the law, it means that the law no longer owns you. It no longer has a claim on you. It no longer condemns you. You are under grace. But we don’t go on sinning simply because God forgives us. If we really believe that he has forgiven us, our desires to sin begin to disappear.

    But Echo, you say, you’re surely full of it – it doesn’t work that way. Someone who was given over to drunkenness can’t POSSIBLY ever learn to enjoy it properly to the glory of God. Oh really? I just told you my story, and the story of most of my family, as well as others I know.

    Naysay if you like, but I’m living proof of the grace of God.

    I could tell you stories about my drinking past that would make you want to vomit. But the desire to be drunk is just not there. I don’t want to flee from reality. I kind of like it. But I do enjoy a good glass of wine as PART of that reality, rather than seeking to use wine as a means of ESCAPING reality.

    The legalist is intimidated by his own sinful tendencies. He is afraid that even a little alcohol will turn him into an alcoholic. But doesn’t he know that he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world? We don’t have to be afraid of the world. We can come boldly before the Father in Christ – why should we fear the world, or even our own sin? We shouldn’t fear it, and we shouldn’t be afraid to admit it. We shouldn’t hide it, nor hide from it. We should bring it out into the light and put it to death in the name of Christ by confessing it to God, and confessing our dependence upon Christ to forgive us and restore us. We don’t need to be intimidated by the world, the flesh, our sin. Christ has overcome them all.

    The legalist is intimidated by sin, and seeks his shelter in rules rather than in Christ. Ultimately, he is trusting his own discipline, himself, to keep himself from sin. He is not exercising faith in Christ, but faith in himself. This is wrong. This is weak faith. This is sinful. That’s why Jesus had such things to say to the legalistic Pharisees. It shouldn’t surprise us to realize that we ALL have these tendencies to trust in ourselves, because none of us has perfect faith. We all have moments of weakness. But we can combat this by confessing our sin and our trust in God to forgive us in Christ.

    The legalist is brought low by a weak faith. The person who adopts the legalist’s legalism to avoid harming the legalist is making a similar error as the legalist, but it is projected onto someone else. In both cases, there is a significant lack of trust in the promises of the gospel being exhibited. In the gospel, Christ promises to sanctify us by his Spirit. He promises to redeem us from sin, in order that we might have life, and that more abundantly.

    But when legalists look to laws and rules to save them from sin, they are looking to something other than Christ for their help. They are not calling on the name of the Lord, they are not running to Mt. Zion, from whence comes their help. They are not trusting in him to save them. He who is overly worried about the legalist too suffers from a lack of trust in the promises of the gospel. Let me explain.

    Here’s a legalist who is afraid to drink because he might become an alcoholic. This man seeks to be saved from his sin by disciplining himself. His shelter is his own obedience rather than Christ’s. So I have this man over to dinner, and he tells me that if I serve wine, he’ll be very offended. Well, maybe I do accomodate him for a while. But after 10 years of having him over once a month, and hiding all the alcohol in my house when he comes over so that he won’t see it and leave the church, now I’m actually participating in his legalism. Now I’m enabling it. I have failed to confront him as a brother ought.

    What should I do? Should I just smile and say, “That’s the way he is”? No! I don’t accept that, and it doesn’t have a single thing at ALL to do with my “right” to drink alcohol. Who cares about that? The problem here is this man’s unbelief that I’ve been confronted with. The problem is that this man isn’t fleeing to Christ as his only hope, he’s hoping in himself. He doesn’t even want to SEE alcohol, because he’s so afraid of it, and he’s full of hatred toward his brothers, whom he cannot bring himself to accept if they like alcohol. No, he is very judgmental and hateful toward them, he cannot accept them, he cannot see them as God sees them, he is judging them by his own made-up rule: thou shalt not drink at all, and by this rule he condemns them. By condemning them, he places himself on God’s throne, as if he has the right to condemn.

    So I’m supposed to be confronted with such a man and leave him in his pitiable, miserable, sinful state? Have we learned NOTHING from the parable of the Good Samaritan?

    No, you find a way to gently help that man discover his sin, and you encourage him to confess it, and you help him seek the Lord’s forgiveness in the Word, and you help him get OVER his legalism.

    And then you take him to a wine tasting, and introduce him to the Lord’s goodness, and laugh with him as his eyes are opened, and the light shines in the darkness, and the morning stars sing for joy, and he drinks of the very grace, mercy, goodness and kindness of God, and learns for the first time why we call him, “Father”.

    Reach out to the bitter legalist. Legalism is sin, and must be put to death, and the grace of Christ put in its place. This is the process that we are all continually going through over and over and over again.

    Do not ever be afraid to search out your sin and confess it to the Lord, because HE has said: there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord, and nothing can separate us from the love of God, which love itself became flesh and died for us, that we might live.


  72. Matt S said,

    That is one heck of a post!

    A few observations:

    1) I cannot believe I made it through the entire thing

    2) I cannot believe I agree with all (well almost all) of it.

    3) I cannot believe it all stemmed from one, one line question

    Nice work Echo

  73. danielbalc said,

    Re 68

    Rube, Really? Just because of the paragraph structure? Seriously don’t you think it’s odd to the two completely different conclusions that can come from what you quoted and what I quoted?

    I admit I should have gone a verse further in quoting Jesus, but don’t you also think you should have gone a verse sooner? Why does it even matter?

    The debate over alcohol again coming back to “should we” takes a decidedly different turn when we read “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin.”

    Even in echo’s diatribe above he would have difficulty justifying public alcohol consumption in the presence of “little ones”. Which is why I started where I started.

    So I wonder out loud, did you really leave that verse out because of the paragraph?

  74. Echo_ohcE said,


    I’m not surprised you agreed with it. Thanks for saying so!


  75. Echo_ohcE said,


    You said:
    “Even in echo’s diatribe above he would have difficulty justifying public alcohol consumption in the presence of “little ones”.”

    – Echo:
    Well, we have alcohol, real alcohol in our communion, and people of all ages, shapes and sizes are welcome to come and be present. And if they’re “a member in good standing in a bible believing church” they are welcome to participate.

    I assume you’re defining “little ones” as children, but I suppose it can mean spiritual children or whatever. But what does it mean to cause someone to sin? You tell me.

    Some people leave the church because they don’t like the pastor’s new beard and they can’t stand looking at it.

    Someone I know just told me yesterday that she can’t stand the way a certain preacher makes his “S” sounds. To her, it sounds like he has an oh so subtle lisp. She said that because of the way he makes his “S” sounds, she wouldn’t be able to go to that church.

    I laughed hysterically.

    While it’s good to be concerned about the weaker brother and look out for the fragile among us, we can’t allow them to bully us into their stupidity.

    While I want to be kind and gentle to the legalist, I am not going to let him call God’s goodness evil. I can’t do that. Don’t ask me to. He should be gently addressed.

    Children, if you meant children, need to see examples of moderation. They need to be trained and taught about alcohol and about a million other things.

    So, what does it mean to cause someone else to sin?


  76. danielbalc said,

    Wow e-machine, your quick responses tell me you don’t have class today, good for you. Don’t waste a beautiful day like this online, go hike iron mtn, get in some quality prayer time, enjoy God’s goodness 😉 ! But if you must blog…

    You have a decent question, but again you need to resort to extremes for it to make valid. Extremes like the person who doesn’t like the S sound. Thankfully the apostle Paul gives us instructions to help us make general distinctions as to what “making someone to sin” may look like. I don’t know how you can write something like this

    The legalist is brought low by a weak faith. The person who adopts the legalist’s legalism to avoid harming the legalist is making a similar error as the legalist, but it is projected onto someone else. In both cases, there is a significant lack of trust in the promises of the gospel being exhibited. In the gospel, Christ promises to sanctify us by his Spirit. He promises to redeem us from sin, in order that we might have life, and that more abundantly.

    without seeing that you are contradicting Romans 14. Clearly the drinking of wine (verse 21) is different then the sound of an S.

    I think it depends on you classifying someone who abstains from alcohol as a “legalist”. This is not a fair evaluation. If it were then Paul wouldn’t have said, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”

    Now if I were to tell you that you cannot drink wine (which you evidently feel i am saying) then i would be wrong. I apologize if I have given that impression.

    I think another point that needs to be made is not just cultural context, but also congregational context. Suppose your congregation is made up entirely of college age students under 21. How are you going to teach this subject? Or in my case where my congregation is Jr High and High school. Can you not agree that I have an obligation to tell them NOT to drink. Clearly now they cannot because they aren’t of legal drinking age, but should I add the “until you are 21”? Most of them will be in college at 21 and I’m sure you could talk about what a 21st birthday is like on college campuses. I prefer to teach them the dangers of alcohol abuse while stating from my own personal experience that it clearly is an acquired taste (like coffee, soda, tea etc). and that if they don’t ever acquire a taste for it, then they will save themselves many from many painful experiences.

    If I had a 21+ congregation who already had a acquired the taste of alcohol (like you most likely will get) I wouldn’t use the same approach, but neither would I accept an invitation to a wine tasting. Not on the basis of spiritual superiority, but on the basis of taste buds.

    BTW I sent you another e-mail

  77. RubeRad said,

    So I wonder out loud, did you really leave that verse out because of the paragraph?

    Obviously I understand that paragraph subdivisions and headers are not scriptural (even in the ESV, where “E” is for “Extra-well-translated”), and honestly I was just lazy. To take you through my entire process, I went to bible gateway, did a search for “eye pluck”, didn’t find what I was looking for (because ESV doesn’t use “pluck”), googled, found the reference, opened BibleGateway to all of ch 18, noted that the eye/pluck/hand/chop passage I was aiming for already sat in a neat little paragraph of vv7-9, narrowed to those verses, copied the URL, and pasted.

    That raises two other questions though; are the surrounding verses related to the verses I chose, and do the surrounding verses apply to our discussion. To those questions I would off-the-cuff answer “no”, and “not much”. vv 7-9 seem pretty clearly to be a parenthisis between the other “little children” verses, and address temptation within yourself, not how you might affect others. And like I’ve said before, I don’t think drinking in moderation “causes” anyone to sin — much less little ones.

    Related note; whenever people come over for dinner or birthday party or whatever, I am always a little self-conscious about the treatment of alcohol. I always make clear that other beverages are available, I list alcohol last, and in most cases, if I offer somebody a beer (by saying “are you thirsty, would you like some coke, or some lemonade, or milk, or water, or a beer”?), if they decline the beer, I won’t have a beer. Maybe it’s just residual legalism, maybe it’s commendable consideration, but I don’t want to make anybody feel like I am “causing” them to drink a beer.

  78. danielbalc said,


    don’t think drinking in moderation “causes” anyone to sin — much less little ones

    seems to be at least an implication in Romans 14:21 (and surrounding context) that it may in fact, “cause” someone to sin.

    You may also want to consider Matthew 5:29 for eye gouging verses (and surrounding context). Yes the battle is against sin, but clearly there are some things, according to Jesus that “cause” sin, and those things should be dealt with dramatically.

    Also note I Corinthians 8:13 and 10:32

    BTW this is not a condemnation on drinking moderately. That is by far the best course of action if you enjoy alcohol. But in addition to moderate you may want to consider the term “selectively” as in when and where will I choose to enjoy my libations. For instance, lets say your favorite brew is only sold at a place like hooters. Would you really choose to make a weekly or monthly excursion to your local quasi-strip club hot wings store and brewery?

  79. danielbalc said,

    That is me resorting to an extreme scenario, but I’ve seen it done before so I take that liberty 😉

  80. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 76

    I haven’t finished reading the post yet, but I need to address this, because you have a point, because my communication on this point was especially unclear and unhelpful.

    You said:
    “I don’t know how you can write something like this

    The legalist is brought low by a weak faith. The person who adopts the legalist’s legalism to avoid harming the legalist is making a similar error as the legalist, but it is projected onto someone else. In both cases, there is a significant lack of trust in the promises of the gospel being exhibited. In the gospel, Christ promises to sanctify us by his Spirit. He promises to redeem us from sin, in order that we might have life, and that more abundantly.

    without seeing that you are contradicting Romans 14. Clearly the drinking of wine (verse 21) is different then the sound of an S.”

    – Echo:
    Yep, you’re absolutely right. I’m not satisfied with what I said there. It was totally poorly worded. What I meant is more of an ongoing, allowing the legalist to bully you. What I mean more specifically is failing to recognize that the Spirit at work within him can bring him out of his legalism. We can trust that Christ can save the legalist from his legalism, and we can act accordingly. That doesn’t mean we set out to harm him, we don’t want to do that at all, but it DOES mean that we are intimidated by HIS sin anymore than we are intimidated by our own.

    My point is that we cannot let someone else’s sin control us. This is what I meant by the similar error but one that is projected onto someone else. The legalist trusts in rules to save him from sin, and the other people around him trust in the same things. They hide their alcohol every time someone comes over. That person’s attendance at the church is based on you hiding your alcohol, not on a desire to worship God properly. You are tolerating and enabling his sin by being AFRAID that if he sees alcohol in your home, he will leave the church or judge you or whatever. We need not fear his judgment, as if it counted for anything. God is our only judge, and his law our only law.

    That is not a license for wrecklessness and violent confrontation, but an exhortation to speak the truth in love. The brother who enables and affirms another’s legalism is like someone who ignores the injured man by the side of the road. He has been mauled by a lion, and is bitter, angry, afraid, etc. Reach out to him and help him. And that’s not a suggestion, that too is a command of God.

    But while reaching out to him to help him, we must be careful and gentle, so as to avoid giving him occasion to sin, gently leading him down the good paths of Christ.


  81. Echo_ohcE said,



    You said:
    “Now if I were to tell you that you cannot drink wine (which you evidently feel i am saying) then i would be wrong. I apologize if I have given that impression.”

    – Echo:
    no, you haven’t given that impression. But almost everyone on this thread says, yeah, it’s not sinful simply to drink, but wisdom says you should avoid it in order to avoid drunkenness.
    This is legalism by definition. If you aren’t articulating this, then fine, this doesn’t apply to you, but to everyone else.
    The Pharisees, in order to avoid anyone violating the law to rest on the Sabbath, would yell at Jesus for HEALING on the Sabbath, or for a man picking up his mat and walking home. They ADDED to the law, making it more strict, in order to protect themselves from breaking the law that REALLY mattered.
    This is why legalism and a works based salvation go hand in hand. What is the legalist trusting in to keep him from sin? It’s not Christ by faith alone, but rule keeping. Their hope is in themselves, in their own ability to keep the law by adding additional things to it, to distance themselves from the sin of violating the law of God itself. But in so doing, they become semi-pelagians by definition. It’s no longer faith alone, it’s faith plus works.

    You said:
    “and that if they don’t ever acquire a taste for it, then they will save themselves many from many painful experiences.”

    – Echo:
    I’m really sorry to tell you this, but this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. This attitude of yours is legalism. You’re telling these kids that their only hope for avoiding the sin of drunkenness is something other than faith in Christ, Christ at work in them. You’re telling them to trust in their own discipline to not even acquire a taste for it, and THIS will save you from sinful indulgence. Now you have told them that just tasting alcohol will get you into trouble. Now you’ve added to the law, and withheld the gospel from them.
    Even if you go on to preach the gospel, which I’m sure you do, this bit of legalism will probably stick more clearly in their minds, because it appeals to the sinful nature by saying that you can keep YOURSELF from sin by simply never tasting alcohol, thus never acquiring the appetite for it.
    I’m really sorry, but you haven’t at all addressed why they would get drunk in the first place, nor given them the cure for that. You’ve told them that if they like the taste of alcohol, they’ll probably end up having a drinking problem. You haven’t told them that alcohol in the hands of idolatrous sinners is just like everything else in the hands of idolatrous sinners – a tool by which they engage in their idolatry. The only cure is Christ. An alcoholic is no worse off than the bitter legalist. Neither is hoping in Christ by faith alone!
    Far, far better would be to teach them about their idolatry, and how THAT may lead to alcoholism and a whole host of other things, and then teach them about the cure. They won’t like this message as much, but it’ll be far more effective.


  82. Echo_ohcE said,


    If my favorite beer is only sold at Hooter’s, how will I know it’s my favorite beer in the first place?

    But you’re right, time and place matter.


  83. Echo_ohcE said,


    But I think you’re trying to make wisdom law, when it isn’t really law, but wisdom.

    Maybe we should talk about the difference?


  84. danielbalc said,

    No I’m not trying to make wisdom law. That may indeed bend towards legalism. Again I have a responsibility to teach and to preach and must do so in a well balanced way. Realizing that my youth are impressionable and accountable, not only to me, but to their parents and to the laws of the land as well, I would be unwise to allow them to see me drink alcohol.

    Are you saying that alcohol isn’t an acquired taste? Didn’t Rube’s sons experience demonstrate that it is? Am I lying to them if I tell them that alcohol is an acquired taste? Or just wrong if I tell them they would be “better” to avoid it?

  85. RubeRad said,

    There’s nothing acquired about wine coolers or Kahlua&cream…

  86. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 84

    I freely admit that it is an acquired taste. Although, I have to admit that I liked beer the first time I tasted it at about 10 years old. Wine requires quite a bit of education to enjoy properly. You have to learn how to appreciate it, and the top tasters are still learning. That’s what’s so cool about it.

    But yeah, my point was that telling them not to acquire the taste, as if that will make them less sinful, is not good, and this simple statement in and of itself is precisely what I’m calling – unfortunately and with regret – legalism, because that’s just what it is.

    I don’t like saying this to you, because I know it probably really offends you. I know it makes you feel like I’m sitting here condemning you for what you said to the dear little ones entrusted in your care, and there probably isn’t much in this world that could possibly be less personal, unless I started telling you how to raise your kids or interact with your wife. But even then, it wouldn’t be MUCH more personal.

    The fact is, what you said is a perfect example of the kind of legalism that I’m talking about.

    So your line was, “and that if they don’t ever acquire a taste for it, then they will save themselves many from many painful experiences.”

    Let’s break this down a bit. This is an “if…then” conditional statement. It says, if X, then Y.

    So you’re saying, if you never acquire the taste for alcohol, you will be saved much grief.

    Now just speaking logically here, the logical implication is that if they DO acquire the taste for alcohol, they won’t be saved from much grief.

    If taste, then grief.
    If not taste, then not grief.

    Those two are logically equivalent. So whether you meant to or not, you actually said both statements by just saying the one.

    So you told them that if they DO acquire the taste of alcohol, they will experience much grief.

    The grief you are talking about is the consequences of sin. Yes?

    The kids all know that.

    So you’ve told them that if they acquire the taste of alcohol, they will fall into sin. If they don’t acquire the taste for alcohol, they won’t fall into sin.

    You have taught them to associate drinking with sin.

    You might not have told them, intentionally, that all drinking is sin, but I guarantee you that that’s the message that they received, because that’s the implication of your statements. This implication is inescapable.

    Now it might be that some of them didn’t make that connection. But I would say that in our hearts we all tend toward legalism, because of the law of God written on our hearts combined with our unwillingness to believe (because no one’s faith is perfect). Those two combined lead to the sinful desire to earn salvation for ourselves. It’s as natural as rain. That’s why Rome ended up where it did.

    Because of this, you can bet that if you say something that leads someone to believe that how sinful they are depends on following a certain rule, then they’ll all pick up on it, because that’s what that little sinful legalist in all of us wants to hear. When we hear something like that, the little legalist in us says, “See! i told you our works matter! I told you that you could be righteous before God by the law!” And we are enticed by that.

    I am of the opinion that, if I am correct about this, statements like that can do far more damage than if one of them sees you drink. If they see you drink, and have been properly instructed by their parents, etc, then it shouldn’t be a problem. it’s only a problem when we’re afraid to talk about it.

    At my previous church, I taught the high school sunday school class along with one other guy. Well, one of the students came over, and I was having a cigar and a beer when he showed up. So I talked with him about it, because I had no idea what he thought about it, and it turned out just fine. He had a very healthy attitude about it. It didn’t have to turn out that way, he might have been really kind of traumatized. But that would have been a teaching opportunity.

    Look, if you can’t drink in faith to the glory of God, then don’t do it. Don’t violate your conscience. “Anything not done in faith is sin.” But your statements do indicate a legalism, because you have essentially said that acquiring a taste for alcohol leads to sin, or is actually sinful itself. You’ve told them that.

    I wish you would teach them about the right use of alcohol and the wrong use, and under wrong use you include all use by anyone under 21.

    If they don’t know how to use it properly, they’ll actually be more tempted to wrong use. Not all of them. Some of them will be like my parents who didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for 30 years. But some of them will be tempted. And then when they have just a sip of alcohol, they’ll think that they’ve sinned, and they will feel guilty about it. Then they’ll rebel against this guilt, because they’ll think it’s stupid to call drinking sinful if Jesus drank. But they’ll still feel guilty, because they’ll see your face telling them that it’s sinful to acquire the taste for it. And then they won’t tell anyone or talk to anyone, but it will be their dirty little secret. And the only relief they’ll seek – because they won’t seek relief at church for fear of judgment – will be alcohol. Alcohol knows about my dirty little secret, and it won’t tell. I’ll just cozy up to this alcohol and it will comfort me about my secret guilt.

    I’m really of the opinion that this sort of legalism…well, Jesus had a lot to say about it. I think these kids would be way better off with instruction on proper use, so that they aren’t tempted to rebel against a man made law designed to protect them from sin. Man made laws – even if it appears to be wisdom – never protect us from sin.

    Col 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    I’m sorry.


  87. Matt S said,

    At my previous church, I taught the high school sunday school class along with one other guy. Well, one of the students came over, and I was having a cigar and a beer when he showed up.

    Even if we all agree that drinking in moderation is not a sin, isn’t this going a little too far? I mean is in front of a high school Sunday school class right place to drink?

  88. Matt S said,

    You know one thing that I do not believe has been brought up in this thread discussion on alcohol is the affect drinking could have on your ability to share your faith with others. (that is if you believe sharing your faith is ever even your responibility)

    Even those who are mature, self-contolled, moderate drinking Christians can have a negative effect on their non-believing friends by choosing to drink around them.

    It may not be true, but some will consider you a hypocrite for showing them their need for a Saviour in one hand while holding a beer in the other. This could make for an unnecessary hill to climb toward the non believer realizing they need Jesus when it could of been avoided if you would just choose not to drink in certain situations.

    Just something to think about, and yes Echo, I am sure Jesus drank around unbelievers in His day, but would he do it now?

  89. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 87

    You speak as if you got the impression that I had invited the high school SS class over to my house to watch me smoke and drink. If that had been the case, you’d be right, that would probably be a poor judgment call, because if nothing else, it’s kind of like, haha, I can drink and smoke and you’re not old enough.

    But I was at my parents’ house on a Sunday afternoon, and he happened to show up. Just him. So there I was, not knowing how he felt or reacted. So I talked to him, and his father and mother drink moderately, and he had no problem with any of it. He had been properly instructed, and even agreed that they were good things, and that he was ok with the fact that he wasn’t old enough yet. I was actually quite astonished and impressed at his level headed maturity about it. But of course, I have continually been impressed at the children of reformed people. When I think back to when I was in high school…shudder.


  90. Matt S said,

    Thanks for clarifying

    it could definitely read like I interpreted it though.

  91. Matt S said,

    But of course, I have continually been impressed at the children of reformed people.

    What about the children of charismatic people, do they scare you? 🙂

  92. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 88

    You said:
    “Even those who are mature, self-contolled, moderate drinking Christians can have a negative effect on their non-believing friends by choosing to drink around them. ”

    – Echo:
    Quite the contrary. One of the main reasons why people reject Christianity is because they think of the ascetic monk in the wilderness. They think like Neitzsche. They think Christianity IS legalism. I for one have found that it can prove to be quite refreshing for them to realize that that’s not what Christianity is. Christianity is not a “we don’t drink” club. Christianity can actually teach you how to enjoy life MORE!

    What a great opportunity it is when an unbeliever asks the drinking Christian how it can be that he is drinking, because the unbeliever thinks drinking is evil, having been influenced by legalistic values that tend to be quite prevalent in our culture. He drinks to get drunk, so his drinking IS evil. He can’t understand how a Christian could partake of his evil. That’s why it confuses him. But won’t it be a good witness to him to discover that you’re actually NOT partaking of his evil, and that alcohol is not evil in and of itself.

    The only people who are EVER offended at me drinking are legalists. And guess what? The legalist is offended, really, at the end of the day, at the gospel. They have decided to make a man-made law that drinking can never be done. I don’t abide by their man-made legalism, and they are offended at that.

    Is it REALLY a bad thing for someone to see a true believer not abiding by their man-made legalism? I don’t think it is.

    I have known LOTS of people who have come into the reformed church from fundamentalist/legalistic backgrounds. When I lived near my parents, we used to have lots of people over all the time to their house, and wine was always served. I have seen some astonished at it, even troubled by it at first.

    But in every single case, every case, they figured it out, because we were always very open and honest about it. And every time, they were really glad to be set free of their legalistic attitudes, because wise counsel from other believers, combined with the solid preaching of the gospel has that effect. I’ve seen many lives changed from one characterized by edgy legalism, bitterness and anger, to one of relaxed joy in the goodness of God as given in the goodness of creation and in the gospel. I love seeing this change in people so much that I have dedicated my life to trying to help bring it about.

    That doesn’t mean it’s ok to try to talk someone into drinking who can’t do it in good conscience, but it means that you bring it up, and aren’t afraid to talk about it. It means you help them understand why it’s ok, even GOOD to enjoy alcohol, because that’s why God gave it to us in the first place.

    You said:
    “Just something to think about, and yes Echo, I am sure Jesus drank around unbelievers in His day, but would he do it now?”

    – Echo:
    Yep, he sure would. ABSOLUTELY. I know because he too was accused of being a drunkard. Is today’s culture MORE legalistic than the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived? I know it’s hard to imagine, but the culture in which Jesus lived would best be described as hyperlegalistic compared with today. I mean, they even found it shameful that his disciples weren’t fasting all the time. Can you imagine someone getting in your face because you don’t fast enough? Or because you healed someone on the Sabbath? We can’t even imagine what that culture was like. It was probably best compared to modern Muslim cultures – with regard to legalism anyway.

    Furthermore, drunkenness was also a problem then as now. For some reason, most people tend to think of those ancient people like little children. They are often astonished to discover that someone who lived thousands of years ago is capable of rational thought and sinful behavior. Well, guess what? In those days, people were getting drunk, they were having extra marital affairs, there were homosexuals, pagan philosophy, the whole 9 yards. They were just like us: sinful.

    People had problems with alcohol addictions then, and they were legalistic about it then. Jesus’ drinking is the stumbling block of the gospel, because it REJECTS the false dichotomy of either overindulgence on the one hand, or legalism on the other. This is the rejection of BOTH antinomianism and legalism. But the world can’t comprehend this. The world thinks you must be one or the other. There is no third option. But that third option is what we call the gospel, living to the glory of God. Narrow is the way, and few find it.


  93. itsasecret2u said,

    Wait, Echo, you didn’t answer the question about children of charismatics. 🙂

  94. Echo_ohcE said,

    Oh, thanks secret, he typed 90 and 91 while I was typing 92.


    I was once a child of charismatics. That’s how I grew up, Assembly of God.

    You may feel free to do your own comparison if you like. Go to a reformed church and a charismatic church, and discover for yourself if the children are any different. Don’t take my word for it, and don’t get mad at my opinion unless you know for yourself whether or not it’s true.


  95. Matt S said,

    I am not mad at your opinion. I could care less what you think about people’s kids. I just found it funny and decided to poke a little, take a deep breath.

    I may take you up on that experiment though 🙂

  96. Matt S said,

    I will say that I know Rube’s kids a little and they are very nice, well-behaved kids so there is one tally in the Reformed column.

  97. RubeRad said,

    Thank you very much! And if it helps your barometer, my oldest is one of the wildest-behaved reformed kids I know…

  98. Echo_ohcE said,

    Well, one of the most astonishing things to me was the children in the reformed church. It’s a real selling point, to put it crudely. And I’m not just talking about my experience in one church, but a number of people in a number of churches. Very broadly speaking, there is a big, big difference in the children. I don’t know why.

    Well, ok, I do know why, but it’ll ruffle some feathers if I say it. Yes, I actually do care about ruffling feathers when it comes to children.


  99. danielbalc said,



    I think you are taking a legalistic stance on defining me as a legalist. You have to resort to saying things like

    “You might not have told them, intentionally, that all drinking is sin, but I guarantee you that that’s the message that they received, because that’s the implication of your statements. This implication is inescapable.”

    The basis of your argument declaring me legalistic is YOUR guarantee of the inference my youth will get from my teaching.


    I know I wanted to keep the discussion on the point of alcohol but I find it extremely difficult for someone making your arguments to be able to dissuade people from watching films with R-rated sex scenes. I can at least follow a logical path in the name of “wisdom” telling people that to subject themselves to such media will in fact lead them into temptation. You unfortunately don’t have that benefit. You can tell them to “not lust” the same way you can tell someone to “not get drunk”, but you have no place telling them to “not watch” since you can’t adhere to the wisdom of “don’t drink”. Now am i telling someone not to enjoy sex by telling them not to watch movies that COULD lead them into lustful thoughts? Am i telling someone to not enjoy God’s creation by telling them to that they COULD be led into drunkenness?

    I have already made it clear that I do not teach drinking to be sinful. I do not consider alcohol a sin. You also teach this. Aren’t you now in danger of the kid that saw you smoking and drinking in your house getting the INFERENCE that getting drunk is OK? Well maybe not him, because you talked to him, but what about the friends he tells, and the friends they tell and so on. “Pastor Echo drinks AND smokes. It’s OK if I do it.” oops. What did you do to guard against that dang inference?

  100. RubeRad said,

    Well, one of the most astonishing things to me was the children in the reformed church. It’s a real selling point, to put it crudely.

    This is indeed a major potential feather-ruffler, that might deserve its own new thread. But being honest, and attempting to remain charitable, that is one of the biggest ‘selling points’ of the church I’m at. I look around, and the vibe I get from high schoolers and recent graduates that have grown up in the church is very different from what I grew up in (sorry dbalc). These kids are reverent, serious, knowledgeable, mature, respectful, not rebellious, not sullen, i.e. they are not like stereotypical teenagers. And all of this while still being young and fun — it’s not like they’re all drones walking around in short-sleeve shirts with clip-on ties and giant bibles and thick glasses. But I look at these kids, and I think, “Yes! This is what I want my kids to be when they grow up”, and I’m counting on the fact that our church body is all covenanted to each other to help raise each other’s kids in the teaching & admonition of the Lord (“it takes a congregation”) to get my kids to that same place.

    A large part of this springs I think from a culture that approaches doctrine as more relevant to the layman in the pew, and even to children. I teach 3rd&4th grade sunday school, and this quarter our curriculum (so this is a denomination-wide thing, not just our church) is taking us through Leviticus, examining the relationship between the tabernacle and the furniture and priestly garments and the sacrifices, etc. to Jesus’ sacrifice. For 8&9-year olds! Last quarter, the 10 commandments. Next quarter, Acts.

    And there is no parallel children’s church. We put a high value on families worshipping as a whole. Nursery goes to about 2 years, and then kids are expected to sit through a worship service (although perhaps behind thick glass for a little while longer).

    Much is expected, and the children rise to the expectations.

  101. Matt S said,

    But I look at these kids, and I think, “Yes! This is what I want my kids to be when they grow up”

    That is the same thing I say when I look at most kids at our church (there are always exceptions to the rule). I guess it is just a different outlook on raising kids, not wrong, not right, just different.

  102. Matt S said,

    I’m counting on the fact that our church body is all covenanted to each other to help raise each other’s kids in the teaching & admonition of the Lord (”it takes a congregation”) to get my kids to that same place.

    This sounds like Hillary Clinton’s “It takes a village to raise a family” speach, no? 🙂

  103. RubeRad said,

    You caught my reference. Hillary half-understood a truth. Indeed, it takes more than just a family, but I don’t want the village raising my kids…

  104. danielbalc said,

    Rube, if we are seriously going to go down this road of “whose kid’s behave the best” then you have no choice but to acknowledge the legalistic inference clause. This clause seems to be the basis of every Echo argument and I now invoke it in the subjective judgment of “best behaved kids” awards.

    But before this thread gets jacked up give me a chance to make a new post please.

  105. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 99

    That’s the problem. You ARE saying that drinking alcohol is a sin.

    And I’m sorry, watching an R-rated movie is not a sin.


  106. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 99

    By the way, what’s to stop someone from getting drunk and justifying it by saying that Jesus drank?


  107. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 100

    Now you’ve done it. Now you’ve gone and spoken the truth.


  108. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re; 104

    I’m beginning to think that you and I have different definitions of legalism.


  109. danielbalc said,

    Re 105

    I have not and will not say that drinking alcohol is a sin.

    I specify r-rated “sex scenes”. You deny these to be sinful. OK. I didn’t realize you wanted to open up that door to pornography. Your kids are going to love you.

  110. danielbalc said,

    Re: 106

    Ephesian 5:18

  111. danielbalc said,


    Subjective truth is no truth at all Echo. You fight against it until you use it. Your so contradictory in your arguments. You are the standard of truth. I forgot.

  112. danielbalc said,


    I am defining legalism on your terms, that is “whenever I don’t like someone’s INFERENCE they are a legalist.”

  113. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 109

    I have PROVEN that you have said that drinking is a sin. I have PROVEN that it is logically equivalent to what you said. I was only trying to point out that logical equivalence, because I recognized that you were UNAWARE of that logical equivalence. I was trying to show your legalism to you, because I knew you hadn’t seen it.

    I am NOT saying that you are a legalist deliberately or that you “mean it”. I am NOT saying that you are deliberately binding peoples’ consciences, and deliberately turning people away from hoping in Christ and toward hoping in their own obedience. But we ALL do that without realizing it. We ALL do. I am CERTAIN that I’ve done it and that I’ll do it again. It doesn’t mean I’m not a Christian or that I’m a false prophet or that I hate the gospel. It means I’m not perfect, and that I’m flawed.

    But you do understand that we don’t have to be afraid to admit a mistake because we are forgiven in Christ. I know you understand that. And since you DO understand that, and I’m confident that you do, then shouldn’t you be completely willing to entertain the possibility that you might not be perfect, that every word out of your mouth might not be free from negative consequences when proclaimed to sinful people? Because if there are negative consequences to what you say, you still aren’t condemned, because Christ died for you, and he can help you to turn from that sin. You certainly DO have that hope, right? So why do you feel the need to deny that it might be POSSIBLE that you have done anything wrong? I feel like you aren’t even willing to discuss it, but meanwhile, you’re the one who volunteered your comments in the first place. I just don’t get it. I am very confused. I don’t feel like we’re even having a conversation.

    The radical fundamentalist legalist churches actually tell you very clearly that you cannot drink and be a member of their church. Sure, that’s the MOST extreme form, and I’m not accusing you of that. That would just be ignorant of me. But let’s take alcohol out of the picture and look at some different examples.

    What if I told people to avoid getting used to going to the Mall, because in so doing, they will avoid a whole host of problems with consumerism and lust for expensive things? What if I told a group of women that the best way to cure their shopping addiction is to simply avoid going to the mall? Is that good advice? Have I solved their problem? Or have I taught them to obey a rule that I have made up and told them that this is their hope to save themselves from sin?

    What if I’m counseling a man who can’t stop swearing at other drivers on the road, and who has to take tranquilizers before driving just to keep from having a heart attack, and I tell him to just avoid driving? Have I solved his problem? Can I go home and smoke a cigar, because my work is done?

    What about a porn addict, if I tell him to stop going to 7-11? Is his problem now solved?

    What about someone who can’t stop yelling at his wife? Should I tell them to be divorced? Should I tell them to just be silent and not communicate with each other?

    Or would these solutions make me unbiblical?

    I say that I would be unbiblical. I would be sending the message that they can save THEMSELVES from sin, if they just follow these simple rules that I’ll give them.

    This is like people who say, look, if you want a better marriage, you need to create a budget and stick to it. If you just do that, then you’ll be happy and in love and birds will sing and everything will be wonderful. Anyone who is married knows that that’s a bunch of crap.

    Alcohol is not the problem. The mall is not the problem. 7-11 is not the problem. A man’s wife is not his problem.

    The problem is sin. It lives in our heart. You can’t cure the wicked idolatry of the heart by never touching alchol, refusing to go to the mall or 7-11 or divorcing your wife. None of these things will make us any less sinful.

    Because believe me, the person who successfully avoids alcohol his entire life might be a complete jerk to his family, full of bitterness and rage. (Which is understandable for a man with no alcohol, but sinful nonetheless.)

    I know a man who never drinks. He is an elder in a reformed church. Never touches the stuff. He’s always smiling. He’s a hard working farmer. He ministers to former prisoners and helps to rehabilitate them. People from his church call him at all hours, and he always has a ready ear. They stop by the house, and he’s ready to welcome them in, and it doesn’t matter if it’s 10 o’clock at night and he has to get up at 5 the next morning. He’ll talk to you about anything as long as you need it. In fact, some say that the little reformed church he goes to would fall apart if he ever left, because between all the counseling and helping of others that he does, and all the efforts of his wife to go here and there bringing meals to the needy and giving rides to old ladies, they sure do a lot for that church.

    But their children are adults now, and they don’t know them. They never have known them. His children are bitter towards him, because he had all the time in the world for the people in the church, but no time for his kids, no time for his wife. His wife has followed his lead and has driven herself crazy to work very hard for the church, trying desperately to help hold it together, even though everyone can clearly see that it’s failing.


    It’s simple. The man is quite taken with himself. His desire to be prominent in the church has become an idol to him, and he has sinfully neglected his family in order to engage in his idolatry. Even something as good as helping people in times of crisis can become an idol in our hands. They live in a continual crisis. And his wife has followed his lead, and she is a constant basket case, always busy, busy, busy. And they live a simple life of farmers in the country.

    And I for one am glad to have come across him, because I am just like him. I am full of idols of all kinds.

    But you see, he didn’t need to turn alcohol into an idol, he has turned even his service to the church into an idol. His rule not to engage in alcohol use hasn’t helped him to be less sinful. His simple country life of a farmer has not helped him either. His refusal to use a computer has not saved him. He is an idolator, and his children don’t know anything about him.

    He is no better than the alcoholic who cares little for his family, or the porn addict who stays up late on the computer long after his wife has gone to sleep and who is no longer interested in her. He’s no better. His sin has just been manifested differently.

    And what is his cure? Does he need yet another rule? Shall we tell him to avoid helping people? To avoid serving the church? What rule will help him to avoid sin?

    There is no rule. Rules can only be effective toward outward behavior. But God is interested in the heart. He demands our whole heart. He called the Pharisees whitewashed tombs for this very reason.

    So what is his cure? He needs a heart transplant that will only come from someone helping him to discover his sin, so that he can confess it, so that he can be forgiven by Christ, and so that he’ll know he has been forgiven by Christ, so he can begin to change. Anything short of that is absolutely useless.


  114. Echo_ohcE said,


    How come Eph 5:18 can overcome the “unwise” example that Jesus sets forth by drinking, but it can’t overcome my “unwise” example by drinking?


  115. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 111

    Don’t worry, I know well what it’s like to write a post and then wish I could take it back. I know what it’s like to write something and realize almost as soon as I submit it that I shouldn’t have said what I said. It happens.


  116. Echo_ohcE said,


    Re: 112

    Sigh. I know how hard it is to refrain from lashing out.


  117. danielbalc said,

    ok e-machine I see where you are coming from, to quote cool hand luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate”.

    I have never, not for a second disagreed that the real problem is sin. A long time ago Secret made an off the cuff reference to how much you really don’t know me and how that characterization couldn’t be more wrong. That’s ok, I guess my comments taken separately don’t exactly help that. Which is why I rely on saying what I said. I am not always careful when i write, but I think (and others who are reading may or may not agree with me) that in order to prove YOUR point (telling kids it is unwise to start drinking is legalism) you have to twist my words. Because you see I don’t tell kids that exclusively. In fact I have made it abundantly clear that I do not believe drinking to be a sin. if I have to write that sentence one more time I might scream. You said this…

    I have PROVEN that you have said that drinking is a sin. I have PROVEN that it is logically equivalent to what you said.

    Anyone can see that your “proof” depends on your assumption of what kids may infer from my statements. I can’t have a discussion with you if resort to this type of debate. It’s impossible. Don’t you see why?

  118. Echo_ohcE said,


    I see the disconnect. I see that it’s necessary to discuss what I mean by logical implication.

    I am of the opinion that when you say something, you are also positively saying what is logically implied by what you say.

    For example, if God says to Adam, “If you eat of this tree, you will die”, even though he doesn’t say it, he is ALSO saying, “If you don’t eat of this tree, you will live.”

    These two statements are logically equivalent, and one is logically implied by the other. That was the significance of proving that your statement was logically equivalent to saying that drinking – acquiring the taste for alcohol – gives rise to sinful consequences, and that this is equivalent, logically, to saying that drinking in any quantity or for any reason will only lead to sinful consequences, or if you prefer, the negative consequences that result from sin.

    What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s AWESOME and great that you have told the kids that simply drinking is not a sin. Awesome. Very biblical.

    Now we know that we don’t have to discuss your view on alcohol anymore. But we DO still have to discuss what you say – unless of course you just don’t want to have the discussion. But more needs to be said about being careful about what you say, because whatever you say, you are also saying those things that are logically implied by what you say. I’m sorry, that’s just an inescapable fact about words. If you want proof, I’ll give it to you.

    For example, God commands us not to lie in the 10 Commandments, right? Isn’t that a command to speak the truth, to embrace the truth? The writers of the Bible seem to think so, when they condemn sometimes for failing to love the truth.

    2Th 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.


  119. Albino Hayford said,

    A minister was completing a temperance sermon. With great emphasis he said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river.”

    With even greater emphasis he said, “And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river.”

    And then finally, shaking his fist in the air, he said, “And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I’d take it and pour it into the river.”

    Sermon complete, he sat down.

    The song leader stood very cautiously and announced, with a smile, nearly laughing, “For our closing song, let us sing Hymn #365, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

  120. Echo_ohcE said,


  121. Albino Hayford said,

    Echo needs to get out his credit card and do some online shopping. Now he can dispense his cheap Sam’s Club boxed wine just like a middle-school cafeteria lady. Start clicking and buying, Echo!


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