Thursday, August 23, 2007

Abstinence or Moderation in Alcohol?

This is for reference. This is a very interesting discussion on alcohol use. Currently, I fall into the "moderation" camp. Read the comments here to find out why. :)

http://guardian-ministries.blogspot.com/2006/07/dr-jerry-vines-article-on-abstinence.html

11 comments:

Luke said...

Out of curiosity, what would moderation be then? In other words, we know what abstinence is, none period. What is the extent of moderation? Is it limited to wine with a meal? or Is it one beer a day? or is it a social drink at another's house? Just curious.

Byroniac said...

Hi Luke. That's one of the problems that human minds struggle with coming out of legalism on issues (I know mine sure did). There is desire to focus on strictness, exactness, and precise definitions, without which it is very difficult or impossible to function. If it can't be precisely defined, it must be avoided at all costs.

Moderation in its purest form will be unique to the individual and under the control of the Holy Ghost. If He grants you liberty to drink, then avoid drunkenness. The same kind of thinking that requires a precise definition on this would happily take all the variables involved, such as body weight, alcohol availability, personal funding, and all that, throw it into some massively complex mathematical equation and crank out a customized answer calculated with brutal efficiency and beautiful precision for that unique individual. Real life, and being guided by the Spirit, simply isn't like that.

Luke said...

Rather than a focus on strictness, exactness, I would prefer to say a concern for personal holiness, witness and example. And for many, although the accusation is hurled against them that they are just trying to be a legalist, I would give many of the ones I know the benefit of the doubt that they truly are concerned about personal holiness, witness and example.

With alcohol, I do think giving the admonitions of the Scriptures about how sneaky it is, precisely knowing just how much one could handle would be the point. And if one is not aware of the boundaries or shirks their boundaries, they are destined to repeat the folly of many. And I think that you would agree that even just one foray into drunkenness to find your limit is one time too many.

Paul's instruction to Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach I believe demonstrates that the early church progressed into more of an abstinence than moderation practice concerning alcohol.

Another thought to toss around as well is that not all of their wine was the same percent of alcohol. New wine would have been less fermented and as such, it would have taken excess to bring on drunkenness thus the person would have purposely had to have over indulged to reach the point of inebriation.

All that being said, I do see the incongruity of one who is 100 pounds over weight pointing out the sin of alcoholism though I would quickly state, the effects of drunkenness usually affect more than just the individual in harmful ways more than overeating does.

Thanks again for the discussion. It has been helpful for me.

Luke said...

By the way, would you mind if I linked to your blog from mind?

Byroniac said...

Luke, I appreciate your comments. You provide much to chew on. And yes, please do link to my blog from yours. I might even get a readership out of the single digits one of these days. :)

Truthfully though, this blog only exists as a hobby for me. It's place for me to record my thoughts, mainly, which I do want people to read and interact with I admit. If I can find agreement and fellowship on mutual issues, or providing correction and refinement to my views (which I need much more than I admit) that's the icing on the cake.

Byroniac said...

There are two things in this alcohol abstinence debate that cannot be defined. One of them you have already stated, moderation. The other is drunkenness. Do we define it by the legal blood-alcohol level (determined by civil authorities)? Do we base it upon our subjective feelings on the matter ("I feel drunk")? Do we base it upon cultural and societal norms? This is one of the arguments against the moderation position, and on the surface level, it seems persuasive.

However, using these kinds of arguments usually means we are no longer dealing directly with what Scripture says on the matter. We have left the realm of the objective, Scripture (its entire treatment of the matter), and entered the realm of the subjective. Scripture, from my reading of it, does not introduce or defend an idea of a continuum of drunkenness as this argument proposes. Rather, all sin is transgression against the commandment of God. It is not about finding one's "limit" of personal drunkenness as much as it is walking in holiness and righteousness, following the explicit commands of Scripture and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and living well within the personal parameters of Christian liberty. I would say that if one is approaching one's "limit" that forms the edge of drunkenness, one has already progressed much too far. And for them, abstinence may not be just the best solution, but the only solution.

Luke said...

byroniac,
Your conclusion in your last paragraph draws a hearty amen and nod in agreement from myself. Not that you needed my approval but I wanted you to know that think you hit the target you aimed at precisely with that shot.

Off now I must go to mow and sweat and have some personal time of thinking while shrouded in the harmony of the motor of the lawnmower.

Hobster said...

"I would say that if one is approaching one's "limit" that forms the edge of drunkenness, one has already progressed much too far."

Gonna disagree there. When you're getting near one's limit is frequently another way of saying your heart's being made glad.

Byroniac said...

Hey Hobster!

Glad to see you drop by again.

I guess what my thought pattern is, is that I don't want people to begin to abuse or be tempted to abuse their liberty in Christ. I don't want them to lose control, in other words. Perhaps it's just me being overly cautious, or afraid, on this issue. I just want to make sure that whatever liberty I pursue that it is with self-control and moderation.

Luke said...

I find it quite humorous Byroniac that you are contending for moderation and even then, you are critiqued as being too conservative with your estimation. While I am quite certain that concerning moderation the Scriptures do not teach "to each his own", yet there must be a certain amount of freedom of conscience accommodated. I think in the end, whatever the choice, how it impacts my neighbor may be the deciding factor.

Hope you have a GREAT Lord's Day tomorrow.

Byroniac said...

Thanks, Luke, and I hope the same for you and Hobster. Hobster is a good friend of mine from another chat channel I am on, and sometimes he stops by (but I have not been very active in blogging at all). If you want to see an example of a good blog, check his out:

White Noise
http://hcnewton.blogspot.com/