I was scrolling through my Facebook feed last night and came across a pic a non-denominational church (I had actually considered going to) put up of their Passover service, compete with Trader Joe’s wine. Ack. I cringed. Really? I thought. I have grown up in a Southern Baptist church in a home with a recovering alcoholic father who is a minister. We didn’t have alcohol around, especially at church. I didn’t even realize other Christians drank until just recently. I think social media has shed the light on a few things, too.
To me, drinking in church is unacceptable. I am still shocked that it is even happening. I guess some people think, “it is just a sip of wine, what is the big deal?” It is huge. One sip of wine could corrupt my entire recovery. It could kill me. I know you don’t get that if you aren’t in recovery or are close to someone in recovery, but you are just going to have to open your mind. Addiction is a disease. A mental disease. It is hard to explain because it is hard to measure. You can’t see it. You can only see the terrible effects it has. To me, it is one of the best tools the devil has. I will never be “normal” and I will always have to fight that deep desire in my brain for my drug of choice. Which for me, is alcohol. More specifically, wine. Alcohol is a legal drug.
I realize I lost some people on that last statement, but the truth is painful. While I am uncomfortable around alcohol, I don’t ask people to quit drinking in public or at functions. I do however, think church should be a safe place. I am pretty sure Jesus, who is the only one who knows my dark struggle, would agree. Alcohol is everywhere these days. My stomach dropped when they put a bar at the movies. I can go no where without being confronted with alcohol. Now, I am not in danger of drinking today. I have no desire, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow will be different. I remember the beginning of my sobriety, struggling to walk into church because my addiction had such a hold on me. I was ashamed, but I knew my faith was the only thing that would keep me sober, alive. I was excited to make new friends that were in my life style. I remember that sinking feeling when I found out they too drank. Everyone drank. I was alone, unless I went to an AA meeting. Which, if you have read in my previous posts is hard. The only thing I had in common with most of them was that we were sober. I just really liked being sober and I wasn’t sure they did.
This all being said, I don’t feel like alcohol belongs in church. Even the smallest amount. I shouldn’t have to abstain from the Lord’s Supper. The very act of communion is one I am so honored to be part of. That is not right to tell me to go to another church or to abstain from the blood of Christ. I shouldn’t have to smell the wine and face the thoughts my addiction bring when confronted with alcohol, on that special day. I don’t think that is too much to ask. I also know that I am not alone. There are so many people who have yet to face their addiction or people who have, but remain anonymous. Yes, one little sip could send you on a dangerous path. Again, I am not asking you to quit drinking, but in church, yes I am.
I think that if you feel that is too much to ask, you might need to look inside yourself. Is preventing a stumble for your brother or sister in Christ too much for you? The Bible is very specific about not drinking to get drunk an about being of sober mind and not being a stumbling block. There is no way to deny those things. So save the wine for the parties you don’t invite me to. I would just caution you that not everyone is as open as me and they may be struggling and you have no clue. I have received many messages from people you would never guess. People who don’t get support they need at home or from friends. And now, I see they don’t get it at their church, which saddens me more than anything.
Someone told me that grape juice is “silly,” I strongly disagree. Saving someone’s life is far from silly. The wine in the Bible was necessary due to the bacteria in the water. It is not necessary now. I believe Satan saw where His charms were working and is using alcohol and drugs to his great advantage now. The Bible clearly states to be of sober mind, be alert. I don’t think advising people to not drink is “bondage” in anyway. I have seen nothing but destruction from alcohol. I think staying away is prudent and smart. BUT, that is not my issue today. My issue is putting addicts in danger at church is NOT OK! At all.
I do choose to go to churches that do not serve wine and/or advocate that drinking is acceptable. I strongly believe staying away from alcohol is best. But if you must, leave church alone. Let it be safe. You can seriously drink almost anywhere, church does not have to be one of those places. Think about how you can support your brother and sisters. If you can’t do it all the time, at least at church.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18
1 Peter 5:8-9New International Version (NIV)
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith,because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
The Weak and the Strong
14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone,and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[c]