Christians have a variety of opinions on alcohol use. For this post, we are going to work out from the idea that Christians are free to drink alcohol, however, becoming drunk is always a sin. But, although Christians are not required biblically to partake of total abstinence from this substance, there are some Christians who will choose abstinence personally. I would like to address the tendency of some Christians to post pictures of their alcohol in public arenas/social media and offer a warning to them.
What’s the Big Deal
There are a number of reasons a person who is a Christian chooses abstinence pertaining to alcohol. Some may be convinced from Scripture that this is the way of our Lord Jesus Christ for all Christians. Others have seen how alcohol use/abuse has been a particular means of sinning in their own lives, and have a desire to cut it out of their life entirely in order to avoid any chance of being drunk again.
Still others endured life with a drunkard, whether it was a parent or a spouse or someone else. And, after seeing the damaging effects of alcohol in their own experience, they committed to abstinence in order to prevent that from ever being them.
Others, out of love for the aforementioned brethren, may abstain simply to avoid ever putting a stumbling block in front of their brother whom they love in truth. (Romans 14:13)
1 Corinthians 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
No One Tramples on MY Liberty
Freedom in Christ is a wonderful thing. We’ve been delivered from futile ways of trying to achieve salvation by the One and Only Son of God, Jesus Christ. Many Christians rightly understand that, not only is it what comes out of man that defiles him, not what goes into him, but that we should receive all of God’s good gifts with thanksgiving. (Mark 7:15, 1 Timothy 4:4)
The result is a mature Christian may want to enjoy a good gift from the Lord in the form of an alcoholic drink. Done responsibly, this is not only not sinful, but can be glorifying to God (1 Cor 10:31). And I can understand a Christian defending his liberty to do this against someone preaching total abstinence for others. Total abstinence (for all) is a yoke not given by our Lord through His Word. For someone to push that on another man is a rare actual form of legalism (compared to how much that term is thrown around).
But in the digital age, we have a persistent trend of posting pictures to social media of our activities, families, food … and drinks. And here is where I want to issue an exhortation and gentle rebuke to my brethren who may be flaunting their liberty without regard for their brother.
Galatians 5:13-14 ESV
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Look, I get it. You are free in Christ to have a beer once in a while and you don’t hurt anyone in the process. You don’t get drunk. Wonderful news.
But that photo of that beer bottle, or glass of scotch, or wine being poured into the cup (Prov 23:31) is tempting your brother who for some reason believes he ought not sin at all (Prov 23:34-35). God saved your dear brother from drunkenness and all the sin that accompanies that. His physical body may still be experiencing withdrawal from the substance. Won’t you love him enough that you keep your craft brew to yourself? Can you restrict who you share photos like that with? I am not saying you cannot enjoy your beverage on your camping trip with your family; just that you ought to think twice or three times before being so public about it.
To love one another mean to die to self for each other. Paul the Apostle was pleased to give us any of his own liberties for the sake of those he loved. Jesus provided the ultimate example of self-sacrificial love (Philippians 2:5-8) although he could have pulled down more than 12 legions of angels to help him anytime (Matthew 26:53). I’m not even telling you “Don’t drink!”
I’m saying “Quit posting photos of your drinks online.”
For the Love of God
For some of you, descriptions of broken marriages, adultery, gambling losses, car crashes or daily beatings from a drunk father or husband are stuff you’ve only seen in movies. Those things are as real as Batman or Superman or Captain America to you. But for a lot of people, that’s a reality.
To you, the idea of having more than one beer with your dinner is preposterous: you don’t even have a desire to do so. But for many people, the idea of only having one is as far from possible as jumping to the moon. So, like the man who separates himself from his computer or phone in order to have an extra shield from porn, there are brothers and sisters who stay away from places that serve alcohol or even sell alcohol, just to keep them from even dealing with the temptation when they feel weak.
But if that same brother or sister is perusing your Facebook or other social media account, looking for edification, good teaching, and biblical encouragement and finds themselves taken in by your picture of a drink, don’t you feel bad at all? In 2018, we are in an age where everything we post on these accounts is seen by potentially hundreds of people we don’t really know at all. Have you no concern for the brother or sister who needs some shielding from these things?
I haven’t talked about alcohol much publicly, partially because it is such a hotly debated topic, and I have a fear that my own life creates a bias in my thinking. But maybe instead of bias, it’s just a perspective others need to understand. I understand that there are other things that can cause people to sin, too (like food, movies, etc), but this post is about alcohol – the abuse of which is responsible for countless heartaches, broken families and even deaths in our world.
So let’s fulfill the law of Christ and love God and other men enough to keep these things out of the public eye.
If anyone reading this would like to talk about being the child of a drunkard or recovering from drunkenness themselves, please email me through our contact us form and I’ll be happy to talk to you.
Thanks Michael, I have thought of this before when I have done it in the past but it did bother me some so I don’t any more. Thanks for your thoughts on this.
You’re welcome! Thanks for commenting, Rob.
I didn’t grow up with it so never had that desire. I remember in my late 20’s or early 30’s having to correct my thinking because I knew some Christians who had alcohol at parties, but that was before social media.
Very well said brother. Thank you for the insight and wisdom so skillfully and lovingly presented. May be all be motivate to be obedient to Phil 2:3,”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.”
Thank you for the very kind words!