Regardless of cause, abuse of alcohol has caused much destruction in Alaska, in our region, and even in our own village. Now of course, that destruction may well have happened even if alcohol was not a factor. So abstaining from alcohol simply to lower the amount of social destruction from alcohol abuse may not be a good enough reason (though perhaps it is?).
Let us consider instead another reason to abstain from alcohol. A huge reason why I abstain from alcohol is to stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who have found victory in over alcohol addiction (interestingly, often that victory comes with surrender in faith to Jesus Christ). However, no matter what your faith is, science acknowledges the reality of physical addiction to alcohol. Not all become addicted, but to those that do, finding the next drink becomes an all-consuming obsession. For those who are alcoholics, drinking responsibly is simply not an option. In our context, many alcoholics have been victims of social injustice and breaking the bondage of addiction is nothing short of a miracle. I choose not to drink alcohol because I want to stand in solidarity with these miracles. Faith completely aside – I believe abstaining from alcohol is an empowering action in support of those around us who have turned from victim into victory over addiction.
Now when we bring our Christian faith into the mix, I find even further reason to abstain from alcohol. What is our purpose in life as Christians? Jesus taught a radical ideal of putting the needs of others ahead of ourselves. Jesus also charged us to go into the entire world and declare the Gospel message. In putting others ahead of myself and in declaring the Gospel message, I have to ask – does drinking alcohol help my purpose as a Christian? Or is drinking alcohol harmless in my purpose as a Christian? Or does drinking alcohol hurt my purposes as a Christian? Does is help, is it harmless, or does it hurt my purposes?
For many Christians throughout history, perhaps drinking alcohol was harmless in their purposes as a Christian. For others, perhaps drinking alcohol actually did help their purposes as Christians – in fact, many Christian hymns are old bar tunes! However, I believe we are in a time and context where drinking alcohol can often harm our purposes as Christians. Until we can rid our context of the social injustices surrounding alcohol abuse and until my purpose as a Christian can be helped by the drinking of alcohol, I will continue to live a life of abstaining from alcohol. I do not look down on other Christians who choose to drink responsibly, but I do challenge those who read this to really wrestle with the value of teaching (and perhaps even choosing) abstinence from alcohol as a legitimate and valuable option. Thanks for reading this much!
NOTE: This is a repost from a Facebook conversation I had a couple years ago.