Growing up in the evangelical tradition, the question of what was acceptable and what was not acceptable food and drink for “real Christians” was high on the list of topics that were regularly worked around. My denominational upbringing was teetotal by definition. My experiences with others from similar backgrounds was that the drinking of alcohol, in any form, while not necessarily written into their doctrinal/governing documents was considered strictly forbidden.
I was in my mid-twenties before I ever had a beverage that had alcohol in it. The church I was attending at the time had sponsored some refugees from Eritrea and when one of them got married, the wedding reception included wine and a traditional Eritrean honey beverage. By this time I was more accepting of the idea that alcohol and the Christian life were not mutually exclusive, but hadn’t done anything to try a drink.
Food and Drink:
That being said, I am aware of the arguments against drinking any beverage that contains alcohol(I’m also aware of the arguments against including wine as an alcoholic beverage). I also realize that there are real dangers in the over-consumption of alcohol. The effects of this are visible on a daily basis among those who use the Holy Trinity lunch program.
People will often say that pleasant, relaxing conversations can be had over a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea, and this is true. However, wine, beer and spirits are also enjoyable and they open up the possibility for greater interactions with individuals, especially when we are on their turf. While I can appreciate that there is a certain benefit derived from being able to demonstrate an ability to enjoy an event without the benefit of alcohol, there is still a certain sense in which that attitude brings to any event a sense of moral superiority.
Although, this appears to be an insignificant issue for many people, there are still questions that should be raised. The first is, as a minister, do you know your limits? The second is, how is your behaviour affected when you drink? Do you go from a perfect gentleman to one who can’t keep his hands to himself? Are you a reasoned woman who suddenly becomes a ranter on politics, offering opinions that are guaranteed to offend any and all present.
Sharing Beverages, and Meals
Those are some of the more important personal questions. You also need to know if your drinking will have an adverse effect on the people you are with. If you are serving alcohol at an event, are you aware of who might have problems with it, both philosophically and practically. Also, if the event is BYOB, what about those who may not be able to afford to provide their own? Are you willing to share?
These may be non-issues for most, but we need to make sure that we are looking out for “the least of these” in all situations.
Again, I welcome any comments. You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @anglibubs.