Core Values, culture

On Drinking and Relevance

January 3, 2010 • By

I’ve debated for a while about sharing my opinion on this subject.  The reason is that there seems to be two very established camps on it.  One says, “Never touch alcohol!  It’s devil pee!”  (I exaggerate.)  The other says, “Hey, Jesus drank wine.  It’s OK as long as you don’t get drunk.” as they stagger to the fridge to finish off that six-pack.  (Again, exaggerating.)

I’m not writing this to say that believers who drink are sinning, or Christians who don’t drink should loosen up.  My issue is with relevance.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what it means to be relevant.  Webster’s dictionary describes relevance as relating to the matter at hand, practical and social applicability, and the ability to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user.  Somehow the meaning has changed in church culture.  We’ve turned relevance into a subcultural fashion.  It’s become about what we wear, what kind of music we listen to, and a “whatever” attitude about “old fashioned” values.  If I listen to bands you’ve never heard of, read authors who only bash the church, get fresh ink every quarter, and drink socially then I must be relevant.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but those things don’t make you relevant.  (And yes, I know what an old codger I sound like.)

That brings me back to drinking.  There’s a popular belief (even by people I highly respect) that refusing an alcoholic beverage from a seeker is a huge turn-off.  That having a beer together communicates how accepting we are and may even open a door for us to lead them to Christ.  That by not having a drink, we’re irrelevant.  I strongly disagree with that.

For one thing, not all unbelievers are drinkers.  When they refuse a beer, I’m sure their friends aren’t thinking, “What a jerk!  He thinks he’s better than us.”

Many people just don’t drink and there’s no religious reason behind it (myself included).  There are plenty of reasons why I don’t drink.  Here are a few…

1. I don’t like the taste.  Seriously, like furniture polish.

2. It’s too dang expensive.  $9.49 for a six-pack of Samuel Adams?  What the heck?  $24.99 for a bottle of Bailey’s?  I can think of hundreds of things I’d rather spend my money on.

3. I find it difficult to associate with a product that can be so destructive.  I’ve seen it destroy homes, wreck healthy bodies, and take lives.  (I know, food can do that too, but no one has ever been killed by a full driver.)

Secondly, I’ve heard many great stories of how people came to Christ and not once was it mentioned how meaningful it was when believers shared a drink with them.  In fact, I’ve had the great honor of leading many people to Jesus without ever sharing a beer with them.

What I want to say is this: If you don’t drink, it’s OK! You’re not irrelevant.  You’re not turning people off (and if you are, maybe you should evaluate your overall attitude).  It’s alright if abstinence is a value to you.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  You’re not “old fashioned”, legalistic, or a pharisee.

Be free NOT to drink!

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