Archives For We Need More Christian Bartenders

This is the last post of this series and I have valued all of the comments tremendously.  The series started not as a defense of social drinking but merely was it ok to be present at a location as a means of mission to people.  Sometimes posts have a mind of their own and it just leads in a different direction.  I loved it though because topics like this need to be discussed in a thoughtful, biblical and humane manner.  Too often we ignore something based on our assumption that it has always been a certain way so we need to keep it that way.  We should never dismiss comments or questions because we assume we are right on a subject.

The poll, to my surprise, indicated that most of you (66%) believe that it is ok for a Christian to drink in moderation.  This topic will surely find no resolve in the coming words but I wanted to share some observations on our discussion.  Hope you enjoy these.

  • A helpful study of the original words does help in our theology but we must do our homework.  Don’t assume a word means something without looking it up in some of the major lexicons and dictionaries.
  • Image is important but image is not everything.  Sometimes our perception of what a Christian should be is (ironically) the opposite of what Jesus said a person should be.  I wonder if Jesus would have been disfellowshipped in some of our churches today for what he would do?  Just a thought….
  • In regards to social drinking one must consider his or her motives.  I still can’t get away from this.  Why are you drinking?  Is it to feel a feeling or, like Samuel Young said in one of his comments, is it to appreciate something God made?  Motives are important.  It is doubtful someone would use Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to use wine for his infirmities but they may be looking to clear his or her conscience.  But…
  • We need to be careful where we place our judgment.  This issue is not limited to social drinking but many other aspects where we may be quick to judge before we consider the evidence.  We will know people by their fruits (Matt. 7:16).
  • Be careful about building-up straw men or chasing red herrings.  Arguments like, “What about all of the bad affects of alcohol?” is still side-stepping the real issue.  I heard one person give all of the statistics about the negative uses (abuse) of alcohol like car accidents, marriages, etc.  While I agree with that negative component of alcohol I also think they are simply chasing red herrings.  I wanted to ask him, “How many people die of heart disease from not eating correctly?” (TV, music, etc.)  The issue is, what does the bible say about it not society’s abuse of it.
  • The principle in Romans 14-15 needs careful consideration (especially Rom. 14:21) before anyone considers to take a drink.  I think if we practice self-denial on behalf of others then it might be our spiritual service to God (Rom. 15:1-2).
I will conclude with something from Isaiah.  In Isaiah 25 we come across a break from the woes and destruction of life for a vision of what life will be like in the last days (eschaton).  In discussion of this Isaiah talks about what life will be like post-destruction.  He writes:
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.

8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (25:6-8)

Sounds a little like Revelation 19-22…the new heavens and the new earth.  Blessings.

The last post stirred up some good discussion so I want to take a poll.

Feel free to make your comment in the comment section and give some reasoning either for or against partaking of alcohol in moderation.

I forget where I heard Shane Claiborne say this but he made a statement that has stuck with me for a long time:

We need more Christian bartenders…

The context for his statement was that too often Christians remove themselves from unChristian contexts like bars, dance clubs or even places where the homeless and others hang out.  He alluded to Matthew 9:9-17 where Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners and stated that we need to meet Christians on their own terms.  I like what he had to say but the full-time minister in me sees some potential issues:

  1. Are we contributing to someone’s alcoholism by giving them a drink?
  2. Do we simply not speak out of the dangers of alcoholism and just talk with people hoping to be a good influence on them?
  3. What part does image play in this?  What if a teenager in my youth group saw me at a bar with someone?  Does this create a stumbling block?
  4. Do we have to go to bars or could we just leave material for them to look at while they are at the bar?
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:33 states, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”  Does that factor in to this equation?
There is a lot to unpack here that seems to be very ethical in nature.  Like what if one of your recent converts in your church is a Budweiser Truck Driver and their family depends on his income?  What is he to do?  Does he quit and drive for someone else?   What about his influence to his co-workers?  If he leaves will their ever be a positive influence?
I went to an AA meeting as required by a graduate class of mine and in that meeting a guy told me that he would never go to a church because churches don’t care about alcoholics.  They all were spiritual, offering to pray and read Scripture but when it came to being plugged-in to a local church all of them rejected.  “They don’t even know how to handle me at church!”  My heart broke.
So what do you think?  Is this a black and white issue or was Claiborne onto something?  Feel free to post anonymously but I would love to interact with you about this.