June 6, 2007, 10:35 am
Filed under: Devotions, Leadership

By Walt Alexander

In June of 2006, the Southern Baptist Convention expressed “total opposition” to the consumption of alcohol. Here is an excerpt:

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages….

Now, I have long thought the SBC was a little off its rocker on this one. I know the Bible condemns the negative effects of alcohol, but no where does it outright condemn the consumption of alcohol. Or does it?

Today, while reading 1 Corinthians 8, I read Paul’s view of liberty as he related to those who were weak in knowledge and wounded in conscience by the eating of meat dedicated to idols.

Contextually, there are two groups of people: (1) Those who possessed the knowledge that eating meat dedicated to idols means nothing because there is one true God (v. 4-6) and (2) Those who do not possess this same knowledge and are defiled in conscience by eating the same meat (v. 7). Note, the evil is not in the meat, but in the heart and conscience of he who eats the meat. For “food will not commend us to God” (v.8).

However, in summing up this passage, Paul states his practice and his commendation to us.

1 Cor. 8:13 – Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

First, notice, Paul does not give a command. He gives his practice, his own opinion, and gives us a commendation. This is not a command from Paul, or from God.
Second, in his commendation, he does not merely encourage avoiding meat at particular occasions (i.e. in the presence of those with a weak conscience) but at all times.

I stole this idea from the great theologian John Calvin. Read this quote from him.

With the view of reproving more severely their disdainful liberty, he declares, that we ought not merely to refrain from a single banquet rather than injure a brother, but ought to give up the eating of meats during our whole life. Nor does he merely prescribe what ought to be done, but declares that he would himself act in this way. The expression, it is true, is hyperbolical, as it is scarcely possible that one should refrain from eating flesh during his whole life, if he remain in common life; but his meaning is, that he would rather make no use of his liberty in any instance, than be an occasion of offense to the weak. (from his commentary on 1 Corinthians)

Third, How should this affect our view of our liberties? Should they revolve around who we are with? Or should we be consistent all the time?

What do you think?


This is dedicated to my SBC buddies: Will, Andrew, and Ben.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Personally, I made the decision a couple years ago that I would never consume any alcohol during my life. I know that it isn’t inherently evil, and drinking it in moderation isn’t sinful, but getting drunk is. I just think that alcohol has too many negative connotations in today’s world and I don’t want to give any wrong impressions or ideas or cause them to stumble if I were to drink.
Assuming I was of legal age…

Comment by lil' simmons

I think it’s helpful to let “love” and not “liberties” be our controlling motive. Sometimes, we can hold on to our liberties to the harm of others, which I think is sinning. It is a lack of love, care, and concern. I often ask when thinking thru liberties: “Am I more concerned about my freedoms right now or am I concerned about this person and how to serve them.” It is a shift from being self-focused to others-focused, from loving myself to loving others. And often, of sacrificing “my” liberties for the sake of others. If people aren’t willing to do that, I would be concerned. Are we willing to say, “If drinking alcohol (or whatever your liberty) is going to make my friend stumble, I will never do it again”?

Comment by bigplew

What a great topic. I absolutely loved Gene Emerson’s sermon on this topic a few months ago at church (CCK). I have taken the libery (haha) to add the link Click on Sermons and then 4/22/2007 Gene Emerson. Enjoy!

Comment by Trillia

I would like to see how they deal with 1 Timothy 5:23 in the SBC. Grape juice anyone?

Comment by Dave M.

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