I believe we mean the same things, but I think you’re reading a little too much into what I wrote. Every author knows they must cut in places for sake of brevity and clarity, so let me assuage your fears and address some misunderstandings.
- In the beginning of my article I said this was not meant to be a debate on scripture, but a history of alcohol and the church. You made great points about those who drink, and how you personally choose to refrain in appealing to scripture. That is perfectly acceptable as God welcomes both, and I like how you take a light-hearted tone in your non-drinking. Just like you, there are situations and people I choose to refrain from as to not be a stumbling block. Other times, I fast from alcohol (anything you can’t give up owns you)
- I never said I endorsed John Chrysostom’s view of punching people in the face, nor do I in the slightest. It was to point out an extreme in the thinking towards alcohol and nothing more than a historical reference.
- If you’ll notice in my parting thoughts, I point out it’s important not to look down our noses at those who refrain and those who drink. You implied I was being condescending towards those that don’t drink, when that wasn’t the case in the slightest. The article was about alcohol and church history and our roots with communion, not the temperance movement and it’s virtues (which it does have). However, based on the research I saw, it seemed far more damaging in the long-haul than the benefits it offered. Which brings me to point #4
- Your stats on binge drinking may be very much skewed. Initially, I had looked up the same data, and it looked like, sure enough, the conservative states drank less. But from what I saw in my own University in the middle of the Bible Belt, that was hard to believe. So I finally discovered the problem: The definition of what binge drinking is. Binge drinking can be defined numerous ways. 4 drinks for women in a 2 hour period, and 5 for men. OR one definition states that 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women must be consumed on one occasion at least once in a two-week period for it to be classed as binge drinking. Some people aren’t sure what it should be classified as. If you don’t have a clear measurable, how can you define it? So I started looking at rates of intoxication and that’s when I hit pay dirt. The data I pointed to in my article all backs up that higher rates of intoxication and mental health issues seemingly corresponding to prohibition. New Zealand, for example, also adopted prohibition based on what was happening in the U.S. and has extremely high rates of intoxication.
- I don’t think it’s a good idea to serve beer in a church service, which is what you made it seem like. I, do however, think it’s smart to take on the role of ancestors and open tap rooms in spaces not utilized during the week or for services. Most churches sit completely empty till Sunday or Wednesday night. In Washington D.C., Mark Batterson’s church has a coffee shop attached to the church called Ebenezer’s that is quite popular. This helps generate revenue for the church, employs people, provides service to the surrounding area, and the funds directly impact the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. And let’s be honest, we live in consumeristic America in which many parishioner’s do not tithe. 8% of a church’s congregation typically supports the church with their giving. That sucks. Many churches want to do more for their local areas, and by incorporating unused space during the week, they could use funds to impact their city positively and create a space where people can gather and commune. Monasteries were the first to do this, so it would just a be a return to what we’ve done in the past was my point.
- I’ve always found grace to be the motivating factor for what truly changes people as opposed to lines drawn in the sand. I’ve discovered that teaching temperance with Millennials has been extremely beneficial in my own ministry as so many grew up in the church, then left because they found it nothing more than moralistic piety or got burned by the church. Many of them have moved from the bar scene and university partying, to a deeper understanding of the scriptures and God and the topic affords me the opportunity to teach what the scriptures say in regards to alcohol and drunkenness. Others, however, need that hard line and I encourage them never to drink. It’s a both/and for me just like you.
I hope that clears up some misgivings. Again, I appreciated your thoughts, but think due to the lengthiness of my article and the topic at hand I couldn’t put a million asides in it to explain my entire view on the subject. Thanks for reading!