Shane Idleman, founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, tackles the controversial argument that has plagued the modern church for years: Should Christians participate in the consumption of alcohol, or is drinking considered a sin?
Many Christians who are advocates of drinking alcoholic beverages use Scripture about freedom from the law to justify their side of the argument.
“The person who consumes alcohol walks a very fine line between freedom and sin, responsibility and carelessness, liberty and abuse—over-indulgence can even disqualify a person from leadership (see 1 Tim. 3). This discussion is not about a glass of wine or beer now and then, it’s about abuse,” writes Idleman in his CharismaNews article.
According to Idleman, “Alcohol is a dangerous liberty.” He recalls a time when he would have an occasional glass of wine or a beer. In light of what he calls an addiction to alcohol in his youth, this was not a wise choice for him.
“It took an embarrassing situation for me to realize that my supposed ‘liberty’ was really an opportunity to awaken a dormant addiction. I apologized to those I affected. I also told my wife and a few trusted friends that I could no longer exercise this liberty; it was too easy to digress beyond the boundaries of responsibility,” he shares.
When it comes to gratifying the flesh, Idleman says that Christians must be on “high alert.” Because the line can be thin or become blurred, it is easy to cross over into sin. Idleman believes that abstinence is the best course when it comes to drinking, especially for people in leadership positions.
“Alcohol abuse has created a sad commentary on the spiritual condition of the church. We often flaunt liberty and laugh in the face of God’s grace. We use the opportunity to post our favorite beer brands on Facebook and feature our favorite wines, all under the guise of ‘exercising liberty,’” he points out.
“Social media influences on a broad scale. In Jesus’ day, society was much more isolated—no Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. We have no idea how many people are affected by social media. We can foster temptation by the things we post,” Idleman informs readers.
“In our freedom, we can become a liability to ourselves, others and the message of the gospel,” he says. “It’s often not ‘if’ alcohol consumption causes damage but ‘when’ it causes it. ‘Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise’ (Eph. 5:15,NIV).”