Friday, August 11, 2006

A Friday Toast...

to Purgatorio for their satirical post regarding the SBC and drinking.

"A plan to sneak actual Wine instead of Grape Juice into the communion cups at a number of key Southern Baptist Churches was thwarted earlier today."

If you haven't read it yet, it's short, and it's funny.

I read quite a few of the discussions about this after the SBC convention this year. Conversations about Christians and drinking are always interesting.

Along the lines of Romans 14, I think it's important to allow individuals to address this issue according to their own conscience and convictions. I don't believe it's right to impose our liberality or our legalism on someone else.

When our kids were little, my husband and I were essentially tee-totallers, not necessarily in belief, but in practice. When we had kids under the age of 5, drinking alcohol wasn't very high in our priorities.

Little kids can become judgmental about things that are foreign to them. They seem to have this innate idea that things that are different from what they've experienced are wrong. Like many moms, I have been embarassed in public by my 4-old pointing out with a loud, condemning voice "that man is SMOKING!"

As our kids got older, we realized that alcohol seemed taboo to them because they weren't ever around it. If my husband and I had a glass of wine occasionally, it was usually at an event that didn't include children.

We didn't want them to see alcohol as forbidden. We wanted to teach them the moderate place for alcohol in the life of a Christian. So we decided that we needed to be more intentional about having alcohol in our home.

Because my husband and I both grew up where drinking was equated with partying, we wanted something different for our kids.

We didn't want them to associate drinking with rebellion, bars, hooking up, and hangovers.

We wanted them to associate moderately drinking alcohol with fellowship, friendship, celebration, sharing meals together, home, and family.

That was quite a few years ago. We hope that over the years they have learned that drinking isn't really that important to us, but it also isn't taboo.

I also hope that they have learned to be sensitive to those who believe differently about this issue.

As always, I love to hear your comments.


Mike Croghan said...

I'm sorry, Grace - my tradition is pretty much at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from the SBC on this one. That is to say, I'm an Anglican. What could possibly be wrong with alcohol? What's next, adult baptism?? :-)

Seriously, though, I think you hit the nail on the head: It isn't right "to impose our liberality or our legalism on someone else."

We are free in Christ, but not so free as to make it right to cause a brother or sister to stumble (Romans 14:20) - nor is it a good use of our freedom to enslave ourselves to an idolatrous addiction. (There are enough alcohol problems in my family to make me wary of that danger.) And the Bible's warnings against drunkenness are certainly to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, we mustn't confuse the fences we build (to protect ourselves and others) with the Gospel. They can be useful and even necessary, but they aren't the Word of God and they shouldn't (IMHO) be regarded as universal. We are free in Christ and should enjoy that freedom, within the bounds of Scripture, respect and love for others, and our personal conscience/journey.

So, as an Irish Anglican, you'll find alcoholic beverages in my worship and fellowship, but not if I happen to be hanging with (for example) recovering alcoholics, Muslims, or Southern Baptists.


Bruce said...

Thanks for the link a recovering southern baptist I thought this was great.


Lily said...

"I don't believe it's right to impose our liberality or our legalism on someone else."

Well said, Grace.

I don't want to teach my kids judgmentalism. I hope to teach them that freedom in Christ is different for everyone, meaning while we can choose to drink (or smoke or shoot pool), we can also choose not to.

Hey, drop me an e-mail one of these days. My addy is in my "about me" section. I'd love to introduce myself.


Inheritor of Heaven said...

I worship in a church with a tradition like Mike's (Lutheran) and agree with his comments. We have both wine and grape juice available at Holy Communion and although wine is traditionally served, if someone wants the grape juice they just need to ask for it instead. I think in Kidz Church (3rd through 6th grade) the children get grape juice with no wine option if they are taking communion, I think this is also the case in the Jr and Sr High worship gatherings as well.

fr'nklin said...

grace...this is my story...almost verbatim.

Pam Hogeweide said...

After 18 years of marriage it is only in the last couple of years that alcohol has found it's way into my fridge. The first time my kids saw a six pack in there my son, then 7, sort of freaked, worried that his parents were getting drunk. It has been good to have discussions with him and his sister about how having a drink is different than getting drunk.

A couple of weeks ago my son, now 9, and his friend, age 10, during dinner pretended that they were drinking whiskey. We have never had hard liquor in our house and I have no clue where these two boys got this idea. Probably from some cowboy thing on tv. But it required a stern mom talk to let them know "it's uncool to get drunk or to pretend like you're getting drunk."

Hubby and I grew up in alchol-free homes but my dad would come home drunk as a skunk after a night at the bar. I have felt so strongly that consuming any alcohol is like playing with fire. For many years I completely abstained, secretly judging those weak-willed believers who had wine with their dinner or beer at their bbq's. It has taken time and maturity for me to discover the liberality of Romans 14. Of course there is common sense, too, like I don't drink in front of my folks. My dad has been sober for decades now but the wounds run deep and my mom freaks if I have a sip of anything as if I'll end up drunk as a skunk like my dad used to be.

I love what Graham Cooke says, "Jesus turned the water to wine and the church has been trying to change it back ever since." :-)

Brett said...

Sometimes when I'm stressed out I have a beer or two to loosen the loins and relax.

DollyMama said...

We have had a similar experience to yours. My husband and I were both brought up in homes with absolutely no alcohol. Once we were married we never had any alcohol in the house, and we were probably married a good 12 years or more before I realized that my husband's "jokes" about wishing he had a nice, cold beer some nights wasn't actually a joke. Although I have absolutely no desire to drink alcohol (have never liked the way it makes me feel, don't want my metabolism slowing down as I have enough weight issues already!) I have no objections to it either. I started buying my husband beer or wine and now we have it on hand regularly.

It was a real mental hurdle for my husband to have alcohol in our house. He really worried that we might be doing something bad for our kids. I guess it's the whole growing up Baptist/Free Methodist thing.

Having alcohol on hand has opened up many opportunities for us to discuss appropriate alcohol consumption with our kids, as well as issues of what does the Bible say about this, and why do others disagree, and what do we do about that.

The only hesitation I have is that I think kids with easy access to alcohol are kids that are more likely to try it. I'm not crazy about that, but the possibility doesn't really stress me out.

Funny thing....after all our non-alcohol-comsuming upbringing, we are now members of a small group where most of the people grab some sort of "adult beverage" at the start of many group meetings. We are having a small group cookout at our house this weekend and BYOB is the order of the day.

Nobody gets drunk. Almost nobody has more than one drink. but they enjoy that one. not being a drinker, I guess I don't really "get it" as I have just as much fun as anybody and all I ever drink is water, but...hey. It's fun to have a new way of handling this issue.

John Frye said...

As usual a very "gracious" post on a volitile subject for many. Law of liberty always get trumped by love (Romans 14). Good stuff, Grace.

John Frye said...

Oops! That should read above "Law OR liberty..."

John Frye said...

Remember your post with the picture of "you" in a tub of chocolate? Our city newspaper reported yesterday about a 20 year old guy who fell into a vat of chocolate--110 degrees. When I heard about it I thought of you. He reported that it wasn't so pleasant. He needs to bathe in it, right?

grace said...

Great comments. I'm glad you pointed out the parameters we should all consider. I loved your last line.

Glad you enjoyed it Bruce.

You mean some people think shooting pool is wrong? Wow!
I will send you an e-mail.

Interesting. I've never actually been in a church service that used wine for communion.

It seems there have been many parallels in our stories.

Thanks for sharing your story. With alcoholism in your family background, it is certainly a serious issue requiring wisdom especially in how you handle it with your kids. Also a great reminder that for many people it is much more complex than simply the choice to drink or not drink.

Nowdays, alcohol mostly makes me sleepy. Of course I am old. :)

It was interesting reading about your small group. Ideally it should be like that, where the focus isn't on the drinking, but everyone is a part of the fun and fellowship.

Often love can show us the way through the volatile situations.

Chocolate baths...maybe it's just a girl thing. ;)