| |

On Churches, Drinking, and Weaker Brethren

Joe Carter has an excellent post looking at the Christian standards on drinking. What does one do with the behavior of Jesus, who did drink? Would Jesus be acceptable as a pastor or elder in our churches or as a faculty member in our seminaries?

I am a member of a United Methodist congregation, and our standards are a bit softer today, but historically Methodists have been quite strongly against use of alcoholic beverages. I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist, and in that denomination drinking is strictly forbidden.

My own choice, and I believe the right choice for me, is not to drink at all, but I do not believe that my personal choice is necessarily the correct choice for everyone. I would certainly not have a problem with church members or church leaders, including pastors and bishops, who used alcoholic beverages in moderation. What precisely “moderation” means may also be difficult to define, but I believe it’s an appropriate exercise.

Carter concludes:

These types of questions have important implications that go far beyond the concerns about drinking beer or wine. Where does Christian liberty end and institutional authority over matters of conscience begin? Obviously there are times when we need to delineate such boundaries. But we should be cautious about where we mark those lines — especially when they would put Jesus on the wrong side.

Good point. I would add that I think we should be comfortable if the way we answer is in accord with the “royal law” (James 2:8). If I drink, I do need to be concerned for those who might stumble because of my action. If I don’t drink (my own choice), I need to make sure that people understand that this is my choice for my walk with the Lord, and not something I hold up as a universal standard.

Similar Posts


  1. You are wise to acknowledge the cultural and generational views on drink within a religious framework. My paternal grandmother and my husband’s grandmother were both old school Methodists. Nary a drop passed either of their lips – ever. That was how they were raised and how they raised their families. Some was the influence of the church. However, these women in the early part of the last century were very vulnerable. Women very often had little recourse or protection against drunken husbands, so alcohol was much feared and resented. Especially if these women lived out west where support was 3 miles away or more. Witness my maternal grandmother who was a victim of such a situation. Thanks for an interesting post.

  2. All things in moderation, I say. I grew up with tee-totaling parents and support and admire their decision. For myself, I appreciate the ocassional glass of wine with dinner. I’ve never been drunk, and to do so would go against my conscience. However, I think those who make drinking an issue of fellowship have allowed the issue of alcohol to supercede true Christian charity.

Comments are closed.