True Confession

If you read my previous post, the one about “Christians & Alcohol,” you’ll appreciate this post more.

Suffice it to say that my first wife and I grew up in very conservative Christian homes that considered alcoholic beverages to be a no-no. Not surprisingly, we grew into equally conservative adults who never would have touched any kind of alcoholic beverage. (We would’ve avoided many types of alcohol simply because they smelled so bad, but that’s beside the point.)

We were in our mid-to-late twenties and had some wonderful friends at church. And even though I don’t recall them ever drinking in front of us, we’d seen the beer or whatever in their refrigerators. Needless to say, we were shocked at first. Christians don’t drink, do they?

Uh, apparently some of them do. And these friends were people we not only enjoyed being with, they were what we considered model  Christians. Were we dismissing alcohol unfairly? How could we say? We’d never even tasted any.

We decided to try some. But we couldn’t go to the local liquor store–we wouldn’t even go there to get boxes for moving–for fear that someone from church would see us and think badly of us.

So we drove thirty miles to a larger city where we were unlikely to be seen. That doesn’t mean we weren’t terrified of going inside, but we finally opened the door and walked in. My word! I had no idea there were so many kinds of alcohol and so many brands. Where were we to start?

I don’t recall why we decided on wine. Maybe because that sounded like a more biblical choice. But what kind and which brand? Impossible to say. We picked out one bottle that had a particularly attractive shape and color. We looked at one another. But what if it turned out simply to have been a bad selection?

Since we were probably buying the cheapest wine we saw, we decided to buy a second bottle, just in case. How one makes a random selection in a liquor store I’ll never know, but we walked out with a paper bag containing two bottles of cheap wine.

We were already feeling guilty. Especially when we got home and remembered that our conservative choir director and her even more conservative church deacon husband lived directly across the street from us. What if they saw us and asked what we had? Ugh! Tempting to leave the bag in the car. Forever. Untouched.

Obviously we couldn’t do that. But what if one of the bottles fell out and broke in the street? Oh, would our sin become obvious to everyone with a working nose.

Once safely inside, we looked at one another. Wasn’t wine supposed to be chilled? And for how long? We stuck both bottles in the fridge. An hour later we asked ourselves if we hadn’t waited long enough. We were going to chicken out if we didn’t taste that wine soon.

Uh, but corks? Did we have…? No, why would we have owned a corkscrew? I hopped in the car and drove somewhere to find one. God, with His infinite sense of humor, allowed me to find one the first place I looked.

Gee, that wine still wasn’t cold. Nonetheless, I attacked the cork and soon had it off. In no telling how many pieces, I might add. No way we’d ever be able to seal that bottle up again.

We poured a juice glass each. We sipped. Yuck! That one had been a bad choice. Down the drain it went.

Time to try the other one. My wife insisted that I taste it first. I made such a face she wasn’t willing to try it. Down the drain with that one, too.

We didn’t want the garbage collectors to see the bottles in the can. That was before everything went in opaque plastic bags. So we melted candles and crayons together and enjoyed those decorations for years to come. Don’t ask me why we didn’t worry about somebody asking where we’d gotten the wine bottles, ’cause I just don’t remember.

This true tale might have been funnier to watch than to read about, but the truth of the matter is this tale made us lose some of our strong feelings about Christians drinking. We still thought it better for Christians to set a good example–that was our permanent decision–but no longer did we look with disgust at Christians who drank in moderation .

What about you? Did you ever try something you’d always considered forbidden? Did it turn out the way you’d expected? Did it change your thoughts about something? How about sharing your tale in a comment?


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Christians & Alcohol

I believe the Bible is true for all ages–past, present, and future. But I also believe many things in the Bible describe a culture much different from ours. Rarely have I seen Christians so conservative, for example, that they insisted that women’s heads should be covered in church, although I dare say such Christians exist.

I doubt seriously that many of the Jews in biblical times were teetotalers. And I don’t know of anyone who’s found an eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt not drink alcohol.”

Although I grew up being taught that biblical wine was little more than grape juice, I find that hard to believe now. When Jesus turned water into wine, people marveled that the best wine had been saved for last. What that implies to me is “after they’d drunk enough they wouldn’t care about the quality anymore.” If my understanding is correct, it sure doesn’t sound like grape juice, does it?

The Bible preaches against drunkenness, though. And it tells about people who did some pretty objectionable things while intoxicated. Look up the story of what Noah did sometime after the ark landed if you question that. I’m not sure the Bible says King David was intoxicated when he was dancing naked in the street, but it sounds like a possibility.

By now you’re probably expecting me to say that I approve of Christians drinking and only disapprove of drunkenness.

WRONG!!! Although I have no right to judge Christians who believe drinking is okay, I don’t understand the need for it. Other than in countries where drinking wine from an early age is part of the culture.

The apostle Paul had some interesting things to say about eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. I won’t try to explain the significance of that in the culture of Paul’s day, but suffice it to say that some Christians ate that meat without thinking twice about it, while others found it an extremely offensive practice.

Paul didn’t say whether it was right or wrong. Instead he told Believers to act according to their own consciences as long as they could do so without offending Believers who felt differently. Years ago I penned the following saying. “It’s not that Baptists don’t drink. They just don’t drink in front of other Baptists.” That generally gets at least a smile because people tend to recognize how accurately I’ve described the issue–and what Paul was talking about.

But what constitutes offense? Let me illustrate with a true story. I’ve changed a few of the identifying details, but otherwise it’s all too factual.

My ex- and I belonged to a good-sized church committee that went out to a local restaurant for a meal together. More than half of the members ordered alcohol. Now, in all fairness to them, no one drank to excess–or anywhere close to it. But what kind of example were we setting for other people in the restaurant?

It probably didn’t matter, some of you are saying. But suppose one of our group who had never drunk thought it must be okay because so many other people were doing it. And suppose that person ended up an alcoholic or caused a fatal auto accident while intoxicated.

Quite a few IFs, you might protest. Perhaps so, but my wife and I will continue to be teetotalers–she hasn’t always been one–because we don’t need alcohol to feel good. And because we want to set the best possible example–and make other non-drinkers feel comfortable.

What about you? Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to have you share a comment.


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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,