Alcohol – Mars Hill Statement

(A position statement from Mars Hill Church www.marshillchurch.org )

 

One of the more controversial issues related to the church concerns alcohol. The following is a summary of our position on the matter adapted from Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out.“Do you suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused? Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?”
– Martin Luther
“Mmmm . . . beer.” – Homer Simpson
 
 Historically, God’s people have greatly enjoyed alcohol. In the European world one of the most Christian drinks was beer. Saint Gall was a missionary to the Celts and renowned brewer. After Charlemagne’s reign the church became Europe’s exclusive brewer. When a young woman was to marry her church made special bridal ale for her, from which we derive our word bridal. Pastor John Calvin’s annual salary package included upwards of 250 gallons of wine to be enjoyed by he and his guests. Martin Luther explained the entire reformation as “…while I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.” Luther’s wife Catherine was a skilled brewer and his love letters to her when they were apart lamented his inability to drink her beer. When the Puritan’s landed on Plymouth Rock the first permanent building they erected was the brewery. 
 
 As feminism grew in America during the turn of the 20th century the women’s suffrage and prohibition movements were the practical results of a feminine piety that came to also dominate the church as more women became pastors and the church became more feminine. Some denominations began to condemn alcohol as sinful and the Methodist pastor Dr. Thomas Welch created the very “Christian” Welch’s grape juice to replace communion wine in 1869. The marriage of Christianity and feminism helped to create a dry nation that put out of business all but the largest brewers who were able to survive on near beer and root beer which explains why today American beer is largely mass produced, watered down, light on calories, and feminine in comparison to rich and dark European beers. The resurgence of micro-brews is helping to overcome the great loss and resurrect the art of brewing.Lastly, some Christians argue that such terms as new wine and mixed wine in the Bible speak of non-alcoholic wine. But, new wine can still intoxicate according to Scripture (Isaiah 24:7; Hosea 4:11; Joel 1:5), and mixed wine refers to special wines where various wines are mixed together and/or mixed with spices and does not refer to wine cut with water (Psalm 75:8; Song of Songs 8:2). God refers to pouring out the wine of His mixed wine on His enemies which does not mean He will dilute justice (Psalm 75:8). The only time such a practice is mentioned in the Bible is in regards to merchants who cut wine with to rob customers (Isaiah 1:22). The Bible speaks of grape juice (Numbers 6:3) and if God meant to speak of non-alcoholic wine he would have used that word to avoid confusion.

 
All Bible believing Christians agree that drunkenness is a sin.
The Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin (Deuteronomy 21:20; Ecclesiastes 10:17; Matthew 24:29; Luke 12:45; 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3).
The matter is so serious that no priest was to drink alcohol while performing their duties (Leviticus 10:9; Ezekial 44:21) though they could consume while not working (Numbers 18:12, 27, 30), no king was to drink while judging law (Proverbs 31:4-5), an elder/pastor cannot be a drunkard (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7), and that no drunkard will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21).
Sins associated with drunkenness include incest (Genesis 19:32-35), violence (Proverbs 4:17); adultery (Revelation 17:2); mockery and brawling (Proverbs 20:1); poverty (Proverbs 21:17); late night and early morning drinking (Isaiah 5:11-12); hallucinations (Isaiah 28:7); legendary antics (Isaiah 5:22); murder (2 Samuel 11:13), gluttony and poverty (Proverbs 23:20-21); vomiting (Jeremiah 25:27, 48:26; Isaiah 19:14); staggering (Jeremiah 25:27; Psalm 107:27; Job 12:25); madness (Jeremiah 51:7), loudness combined with laughter and then prolonged sleep (Jeremiah 51:39; nakedness (Habbakuk 2:15; Lamentations 4:21); sloth (Joel 1:5); escapism (Hosea 4:11); depression (Luke 21:34); and staying up all night (1 Thessalonians 5:7).
Prohibitionists wrongly teach that all drinking is a sin and that alcohol itself is an evil.

Psalm 104:14-15 “He God makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man . . .”

John 2:1-11 is clear that Jesus first miracle was performing over 100 gallons of wine at a wedding party

Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions.”

Abstentionists wrongly teach that drinking is not sinful but that all Christians should avoid drinking out of love for others and a desire to not cause anyone to stumble.

Hosea 2:8 “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold-which they used for Baal.”

1 Timothy 4:1-5 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Moderationists rightly teach that drinking is not a sin and that Christian conscience must guide each person.

Wine is spoken of as both good and bad in the same verses (1 Samuel 1:14, 24; 25:18, 37; Joel 1:5,10).

Apart from good feasting alcohol in Scripture is rightly used for communion (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23), and Old Testament worship (Numbers 28:14).

Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;  then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart.”

Psalm 104:14-15 “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.”

Deuteronomy 14:26 “Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.”

We ask that everyone act according to their conscience when it comes to alcohol consumption. Because of past sin, some who have had problems with alcohol may need to abstain for fear of stumbling into old sinful habits. For those who enjoy alcohol with biblical moderation, we recommend using discernment when providing hospitality for others who may have conscience or addiction issues. Best of all, we look forward to the day when our Lord and Savior will prepare for us a redeemed feast with wine:

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – Isaiah 25:6-9