It is not a perfect world (yet, not till Jesus gets here).
Yesterday’s discussion of responsible use of alcohol may have introduced more questions than it answered.
That is okay. Discussion is good. Communication is good.
I do understand the point. Those who are teetotallers are going *beyond* what God’s Word says. It is okay to do that. It is not okay to try to change God’s Word to correspond with our position.
He did not spend the entire Old Testament telling people that wine gladdens the heart of man only to make wine consumption a sin in the New Testament (that would be unprecedented).
Those of us who are teetotallers, including my pastor, often reference the bad water in ancient days and the way that a little alcohol mixed with water could have antiseptic qualities to keep people from being poisoned by bacteria in their water. Good point, but not the reason the Bible gives for drinking wine. God didn’t say, “Drink wine because in a couple of thousand years bacteria will be discovered in your water and you will be glad you used wine to purify it.”
We are not allowed to rewrite Scriptures according to our standards, as though God were less righteous than we are.
On the other hand, I can see the safety of the teetotaller position. No one has yet explained to me how a Bible study with beer will function when a recovering alcoholic joins it. Will everyone drink soft drinks in deference to that weaker brother?
You see, Dr. James Baker, my pastor, has often said that some of our standards are stricter than they need to be, Biblically, because we understand deferring to the weaker brother. I know his heart and I respect what he says. We do some things we don’t need to do. We do them out of love, not fear and not legalism.
One example of going a bit further than necessary, probably, is our dress code for serving on the platform during a service (we would not attempt to tell a visitor or a member out in the congregation how to dress, although Pastor preaches on modesty from time to time). We have to have our shoulders covered on the platform, avoiding dresses with huge gaps under the arms. I understand that that is an issue of protecting some weaker brothers who find bare shoulders and peek-a-boo underarms to be alluring. So we watch what we wear on the platform. Small price to pay for keeping everybody somewhat freer of temptation.
This is not deferring to the judgmental brother, this is true deference to the weaker brother. Abstaining from alcohol may turn out to be one such stand. I am okay with that if it is. I don’t drink anyway and I would not want to be the one drawing a sister into a Bible study where she discovers she can’t control an addiction to alcohol.
And this, my friends, may be a true Paul vs. Barnabas issue. One where we can honestly respect the stand of someone else while honestly doing something completely different . . .