E Plurubus Unum, Rex Montis

Friday, January 02, 2015

Is Christian-American-Moderation a triple-oxymoron?

Happy New Year everyone! Lets get started

Let me preface this entire post with a frustration of mine. Generally speaking, there seems to be a predominant personality type that I have been coming into contact with lately. This personality is quite simply, ignorance. This word is not an insult (well it could be), but merely the perfect word to describe lacking awareness or knowledge, uneducated on a subject. It used to be that I would only come across these types of people in the form of college freshmen, or college dropouts that took a class once and consider themselves very educated (keeping in mind that most Americans can get a good education with a library card). This personality type is usually followed up with the belief that yelling louder makes you “righter.” However, I have been running into more and more of these types of late with a wide variety of background and age. I blame it on the technology age and the ability to cheat the research system by using an online search engine.

Don't get me wrong, I am using the internet right now to spew my own opinions, and am a frequent search-engine user. With that being said, I understand that everyone has a different worldview, a filter or life-lens through which everything is weighed, translated and perceived. Yet, when your life-lens is merely the regurgitation of rhetoric you have heard from friends, the internet or a “reliable source” without any real evidence, research or conviction...I have a problem accepting your opinion as valid.

Now that I have prefaced this post, let us address the topic that was posed as a question. Quite frankly, it is a tough question to answer. Firstly because I do not know if there is such thing as a triple-oxymoron, but for arguments sake lets pretend there is such a thing. Secondly, because it is quite complicated. Lets try to iron it out together.

I had a popular question come up recently, but it was made in the form of a statement. “Christians shouldn't drink alcohol.” I have heard this statement before, usually from ignorant people, sometimes from people who don't claim to be Christians at all. However, the person who recently presented this statement was taken aback that I did not support that statement. Furthermore, this person is educated, well-versed and thoughtful. So I asked him what his basis was.

He stated that anything that affects the brain should be avoided, because as Christians, we are supposed to be sober minded, and the bible says that drunkards will not enter the kingdom of heaven. I responded with the first thing that came to mind, as I have a small background in this subject matter. “When I exercise, endorphins are released, and affect the brain...should I not work out then because it might affect my brain?” I further acknowledged that drunkards and gluttons were considered the same from a biblical vantage, but that God gives grace to us over sin and death, AND that alcohol and food are not bad in and of themselves, but the abuse and overindulgence are, and that Americans are terrible at moderation of any kind. Too much exercise, too much sleep, too much food, too much sugar, too much work are all examples of a lack of moderation.

We got back on topic when he said that wine could have been non-alcoholic. I responded that Jesus turned the water into wine in Canaan, to which he responded Jesus would not have created anything that would lead to drunkenness. I stopped him there and asked if he was blaming an object causing sin or a lack of self control. It is not the Ford F-150 that causes major accidents, but the driver that is drunk. It is not the 5 gallon bucket that causes infant death, but the inattentive parent. It is not sex that causes adultery, but the lack of for-planning and self-control. I purported that God has always created good things that humans have abused, neglected or misused.

I further acknowledged that historically, wine is the English word used for both non-alcoholic juice, alcoholic wine, and low alcoholic content water diluted wine. As with any text, anything taken out of context can be warped and manipulated to make it say whatever you want. With that said, I do not want to tell anyone reading this that “Christians should drink alcohol.” I think you should have a thorough understanding of what you are reading, the time, the context, the translation, while reading everything in it's entirety instead of strip-mining the bible to make it say what you want. In conclusion, no, I don't think Christ turned water into grape juice. Otherwise the main guy at the wedding wouldn't have told exclaimed that he saved the best wine for last (historically good wine is served first, then the bad after the gusts have gotten tipsy and don't know the difference).

There is a verse that is often abused by Christians who do not believe in drinking and try to force their beliefs on others. (side note: I DO believe in absolute moral truth, while simultaneously believing that some truths are relative to the individual). Romans 14:13 paraphrased, “Stop passing judgment on others (we often leave out this part when quoting this verse), but make up your mind not to put a stumbling block in front of others. The footnote in the Life Application Study Bible NIV says this about the verse:

Some Christians use an invisible weaker brother to support their own opinions, prejudices, or standards. “You must live by these standards,” they say, “or you will be offending the weaker brother.” In truth, the person would often be offending no one but the speaker. While Paul urges us to be sensitive to those whose faith may be harmed by our actions, we should not sacrifice our liberty in Christ just to satisfy the selfish motives of those who are trying to force their opinions on us...believers should not project their standards on others.”

Now, I am not trying to make the bible say what I want it to say, but if you actually read it, most references are speaking of overindulgence. It talks about drunkards and gluttons, not drinkers and eaters. Jesus himself said, “The son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, here is a glutton and a drunkard...(Matthew 11:18). Do you think he was referring to non-alcoholic grape juice if judgmental pharisee's were accusing him of overindulgence? Doubtful.

I went online (darn the internet) and did some research into Hebrew culture, Greek wording etc, and did come up with the three different types of “wine” as I stated above. This argument could literally go on and on, but this post is long enough. Suffice to say that in my research there are MANY opinions out there about what Christians should and shouldn't do. Many of the arguments only use half verses, or conveniently leave out half of them. After everything I have looked at, I believe that every Christian should decide for themselves what they should do. Discussion is a good thing. I believe the following are some good rules to follow:

  1. Don't flaunt what you do, whatever your opinion
  2. Don't intentionally do something to cause someone else to stumble
  3. Understand that you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ for YOUR actions, not someone els's
  4. 1 Cor 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God, do not cause anyone to stumble...(read the whole thing in context)

Suffice to say this is a touchy subject in America. Can overindulgence of alcohol lead to bad things? You better believe it...just like the misuse and overindulgence in many other things Christians choose to conveniently ignore.


Anonymous said...

Jesus wouldn't have created anything that would lead to drunkenness...Jesus is the Word which became flesh (the Word that was with God and the Word that was God), and He kinda created everything at the start. That includes substance that would lead to drunkenness (I love your thoughts on dopamine as well). He also created us with common sense to identify stupidity and such concepts as moderation (in some cases moderation and modesty correspond to the same word in the original text. Try that bunny trail out.) Yet we do a remarkable job of ignoring moderation and common sense, as with your example of gluttony.

A big flashing light to walking in "liberty in Christ." Discussion is wonderful, yet it is so easy to forget about this thing called liberty in Christ, resulting in degrading nit-picking and performance measuring.

To what you said about a valid opinion, are you referring to a person not coming to their own conclusion about data or an experience? A good deal of information we come across is second hand, which, I have to admit, I am quite guilty of regurgitating. Granted, I do my best to gauge whether or not a view or belief holds water, but even research, Internet or otherwise, is second-hand, thereby not truly being hard evidence or fact.

If it is that we understand one who regurgitates to be someone who does not weigh the information they take in before reiterating, then, yes, they would have similarities to a fountain of diarrhea.

Zeke said...

Ah yes, moderation, such a wonderful concept, but so hard to grasp.
I would say as far as valid opinion I was stating coming to your own conclusion, as you can't really argue someone's own experience. I regurgitate second hand information all the time. When I read books, articles and opinions, compare them within context etc. This whole website is [nearly] a regurgitation of information. The main difference being that I will typically do some research. My rant on that particular topic originated from people who read an email forward and then start touting it as 'gospel.'

Your concluding sentence is exactly what I was getting at. Often categorized as 'diarrhea of the mouth.' But I welcome those opinions at times too. It opens the door for free education!