Thursday, November 15, 2007

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue.

I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Is it appropriate for a Christian to drink alcohol?


Anonymous said...

I don't see much problem in general with it, but:
not in excess; not to drunkenness; not if it causes someone else to stumble (let's say they are an alcoholic and trying to stop)

Greg said...

Thanks Chris, and welcome to Living Spirituality.

John said...

Hi Greg,
This is a touchy subject. I have seen no Biblical support for Christians as a whole not being able to drink alcohol. This is as long as, like Chris said, it is not leading to drunkenness or causing a brother to stumble. I rather enjoy going to the bar and having a beer or two with friends who are of age. I've had some of my best conversations with people over a pint.

We definitely have to respect the wishes of others also, and while we should not force our views on them, they also should not force their views on us who have no problem with alcohol. If I want to go have a pint with a friend, other Christians should not judge me. Also, if they have something against alcohol, I should not drink around them. It is then up to the opposing parties to decide how much fellowship they will enjoy.

I had an interesting conversation about this today, actually. The campus director for the parachurch movement I am involved with here on campus asked my take on this issue, because there is a house of guys, Christians and non-Christians, who disagree on whether or not alcohol should be in their house. They do have younger Christians coming over constantly, and the house was started as somewhat of a refuge for Christians to go to. They now have a couple non-Christians in the house who want to drink. The alcohol issue is dividing the house.

I didn't know what to tell the campus director, but we did mention the principles of freedom in the Gospel, respect for one another, and not causing a brother to stumble. I don't know when one should break fellowship with another over an issue such as alcohol. I wish alcohol wasn't a divisive issue among people, and Christians especially, but that is the reality of the world in which we live.

What is your take, Greg?

Greg said...

Thanks for your comment. Seems to me there are things that we have to learn how to graciously agree to disagree on, without this causing brothers and sisters in Christ to separate. I know - easier said than done, but when non-essentials cause such divisions, something is wrong.

By the way, "cheers." I'm off to have a glass of fine white wine.

John said...

Haha Greg, I guess we know where your views and loyalties lie!

Greg said...

Yep. You got it. But seriously, I know this is an issue that people have to work through. I just wish they wouldn't divide over it. Trying to keep freedom and love in the picture is much harder work than pulling away. Too often, lamentably, we prefer what's easy.

John said...

I agree, Greg. I think the problem runs deeper than personal freedom or giving up of that right for the sake of others. I think it's a pride issue. It's hard to humble yourself enough to die to self and honor others above yourself. But that's what Christ did, and therefore that is what we as Christians are called to do. Easier said than done, I know.

But what about with non-Christians? The situation I know of involves Christians and non-Christians. We cannot expect non-Christians to hold to the same standards as us, yet there is a common thread of decency in all of us. Is it possible to reconcile? Sometimes, I hope. Other times, if neither party will budge, do you think it is reasonable to break fellowship? At least as far as not living together, I mean.

I know alcohol is not allowed on the grounds at L'Abri. Has this ever become an issue? How have you dealt with it?

Greg said...

Perhaps, the way to go with non-Christians is to find a way towards mediation that will take into consideration the concerns of both sides and try to find a workable solution. If that fails, then there's no other option than some kind of structural mediation where each has their own space. I believe that it's difficult to have any preformed direction, because much will depend on the contexts of the people involved.

One reason for no alcohol here on the premises is that some people may be in a context where part of why they're here is to get away from it. Another reason is that others may be in a context where they have a problem, but are not aware of it.

Of course, we also have a community that incorporates freedom. That is, there is a fair amount of open time outside the community where people will have to make up their own minds on their relationship to alcohol and those who drink or don't.