I’m giving you another sneak peek into a rough draft of a chapter from the book I’m working on, Freshman 15. This snippet is from the chapter on social drinking:
Since I became a Christian, adopted from my wretched state, I have had the absolute best conditions provided. I have received divine protection from the outside world, and I have never gone without my needs being adequately provided. I have experienced all the love, affection, and security I could ever imagine, and yet somehow, that provision sinisterly becomes boring to me. And I long for something more.
I’m not talking about jumping off the deep end spiritually. I don’t want to renounce my commitment to Christ. I don’t want to fall into a state of moral failure. I just sometimes get tired of these fences. And I look through the fence of God’s commands to see the carefree hearts of those straying on the outside, and I envy their blithe state. Amidst unbelievable scenery, gifts, and the love of my Master, I just want to be able to indulge a moment where I just let go. I want freedom.
And you do too. Honestly, there is that longing in all of us that started when we were a child. When we couldn’t do what we wanted to, we would turn and ask our parents “why.” No matter how many times we heard the excuse, “because I said so,” that explanation was unable to cut it. We are born knowing what we think is the best for us and we dare anyone to challenge that ideal.
One of the most debated issues in Christianity concerning freedom is that of social drinking. Denominations differ. Backgrounds divide. Experiences direct. When most pastors communicate to students concerning the sins to abstain from in America, the list normally starts with premarital sex, drinking, and smoking. And these are areas in which the Bible actually does address. But few ministers ever mention the sins of hating one’s brother, developing an envious heart, supplanting God for another, etc. Why has the American church focused so much on the previous? Because these actions are concrete, observable actions while so many other areas are matters of the heart. I can physically see if someone is drinking alcohol or not. I cannot perceive whether or not someone has bitterness in the heart towards another.
Many people who want to live for Christ see the party scene on the outside and they envy it. They envy the carefree nature, and you begin to wonder: is drinking really evil, or am I just listening to my fuddy-duddy preacher and parents way too much? How much can I get away with? It’s the seduction of the unknown.
Most students, upon their first taste of alcohol, do not rave about the mesmerizing flavor. But they do come back for some reason. Some come back because people they admired accepted them for the first time. Some try it again because it made them forget about all the drama in their lives. Some continue to indulge because the Christian cliques on campus ostracized them for the first time they went to a party, so now they have nowhere else to turn.
And so now you allow the question to run rampant in your mind: “Is there more to life that I’m missing associating with Christianity?” So is it wrong to drink? Can a Christian go to a party? Can they socially drink? As our culture progresses, the line keeps getting blurrier. Not only do different churches and Christians disagree on this issue, it appears as if the Bible supports both sides or is at least ambiguous about the topic. So to address this issue, I encourage you to lay aside your tradition, denomination, preconceived notions, parental instruction, parental example, and join me in looking at what God’s Word really says about the issue of alcohol…
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.