Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Drugs & Alcohol”

October 16, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #364 “Like a River Glorious” & #366 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Testimonies – Who has a story of being weird and/or winsome with the world lately?

Teaching

Recap

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (1Pe. 4:3-4; NKJV). The world will think we’re strange, weird, that we don’t do what they do.

But there’s a weird that’s just plain weird, and there’s a weird that’s intriguing, curious… winsome. That’s what we’re going for.

How are Christians winsomely weird when it comes to authority?? How about purpose?? What about speech; how do we talk differently than the world in a way that’s not nails on a chalkboard, but catches attention? What makes us stand out with regard to our relationships and conflict?

Introduction

Tonight we’re going to talk about drugs and alcohol. The world has a way of thinking about drinking. We as Christians should too… and it can’t just be the world’s; we can’t uncritically go right along with the world’s practices when it comes to alcohol. The world around us also has a way of thinking about pot. How are we supposed to think about that? That’s where we’re going to.

First, I just want to set forth a series of questions we need to ask with regard to anything kind of substance that we take into our bodies. The world pretty much just asks one question – Does this make me feel good? Or maybe, Does this make me look cool? We have to go deeper. Here are 8 questions I thought of:

(1) Is it legal? Romans 13:1 tells us that our general attitude is to “be subject to the governing authorities.” If a government says a particular food or drug is not safe, we better have a good reason to disobey them. Is it legal?

(2) Is it necessary? Is this something I need to live, like food and water? The Bible assumes that there are basic necessities that we need. 1 Timothy 6:8 – “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Is it necessary?

(3) Is it good? Is this something I can ask God for and thank him for? Is this one of the good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Is it good?

(4) Is it healthy? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20). Our bodies are not inconsequential. Matter matters. And so we should be good stewards of our physical health. Is it healthy?

(5) Is it an addiction? We must ask ourselves when it comes to anything we put into our bodies – can I say No? Or has this thing become my master? 1 Corinthians 6:12 – the Corinthians were saying, “All things are lawful for me,” but Paul said, “but I will not be dominated/enslaved by anything.” Is it an addiction? We’re not supposed to be addicted to anything.

(6) Is it intoxicating? Does it impair your ability to think and change your personality and make you lose control of yourself? In other words, does it make you not you, transcribe you into a different state that you return back from later? Does it do something unnatural to me? Does it have “a psychoactive affect… [on] brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior?”[i] This concept comes from the Bible’s prolific treatment on alcohol, which we’ll look at in a second. Is it intoxicating?

(7) Is it an idol? Is your use of this created thing an escape from God? Are you turning to this thing instead of God for the things that you are supposed to look to God for?

(8) And then lastly there is the question – Is it wise? It may be legal, in the category of necessary, good, healthy, non-addictive, not intoxicating, and not an idol, but still not wise to partake of for different people in different situations.

Food

Okay, so let’s start by running food through these questions. Is food legal? Besides raw milk in certain states, I can’t really think of much that we would want to eat that was prohibited by law.

Is it necessary? Yes. Without food and water we will die. God made us to need it and so it’s not wrong to eat. In fact, it is right and good.

That’s the third question – is it good? In the New Covenant, there are no foods that are unclean (cf. Mk. 7:19). In 1 Timothy 4:4, talking about food, Paul says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” Jesus teaches us to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). You can eat and drink to the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Mt. 11:19). Food is good!

Is it healthy? This is where it starts to get tricky. Our understanding of health is regularly changing. But we generally know that an exclusive diet of sugar is bad for you. Proverbs 25:27 – “It is not good to eat much honey.” And to eat excessively (gluttony) is not good for you. But a well-balanced diet in moderation is healthy.

Which leads into the next question we have to ask when it comes to foods – Is it an addiction? Are we able to exercise self-control when it comes to eating? Can we go without sweats or meat for a while without being cranky and jittery? This is where fasting is helpful. Food is a necessity, so we need it in a sense, but do we neeeed it? “Is it an addiction?” is a helpful question to ask when you’re asking, “Should I eat this?”

Next, is food intoxicating? I suppose certain mushrooms might be psychedelic. But for the most part, food does not transform our character or radically alter our performance. I may be a little sleepy after eating a lot of turkey, but it’s not illegal to drive a car under the influence of turkey, and rightly so. I may run faster if I had a good breakfast, but the International Olympic Committee has not banned Nutrigrain bars? Food can make me feel better, but I’m still me after a meal.

Is food an idol? Not inherently. This gets to motivation. Philippians 3:19 talks about people for whom “their god is their belly.” Am I looking to ice cream to comfort me instead of the Lord? Or am I finding my righteousness in eating paleo? There are many ways our food consumption could be idolatrous.

And then there are endless other questions of wisdom. Do I need to become a foodie to win foodies (cf. 1Cor. 9:19-23)? Is shopping at Whole Foods the best use of my money? Is it unethical to eat chickens from farm factories? ??

Poison

Just for fun, let’s run arsenic through this. Is arsenic legal? Probably not; idk. It’s not necessary for survival, in fact the opposite: it kills. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. But here’s what it has going for it – it’s not addictive (as far as I know). I don’t know how to answer the intoxicating question. If it was taken in order to control one’s own death, I suppose you could say it was idolatrous. It’s safe to say that poison is not wise.

Alcohol

Okay, here we go. Alcohol: is it legal? Yes, for those 21 and older.

Is alcohol necessary? No. You can live a full life without ever tasting a drop of alcohol. One thinks of the Nazirite vows in the OT (cf. Nu. 6) and even Samson who was a Nazirite from birth (Jdgs. 13:2ff).

But are alcoholic drinks good? Yes, they are. Psalm 104 – “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Alcohol was used in OT worship celebrations (Dt. 14:26). Jesus provided wine for a wedding (Jn. 2:1ff) and used it in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Is alcohol consumption healthy? Well, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1Tim. 5:23). I’m not sure what the rationale was behind that. Alcohol has a germ killing quality and in some places it is healthier to drink than water. Some studies are showing certain medical benefits of moderate alcohol intake, such as reduced risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol use has a massive list of adverse health effects, including heart disease, cancer, liver damage…

That brings us to the question – is it an addiction? Alcohol has a powerful addictive potential, especially for certain people. Alcoholism is a very real problem that has destroyed many, many lives. It’s a cruel, cruel slave-master. The Bible is very clear that we are not to be drunkards (i.e. 1Cor. 6:10). If you have a drinking problem, you need to admit it and seek help. And if you are a recovering alcoholic you should stay far away from alcohol. And if you don’t have an issue now, you should be very careful that you don’t become addicted to alcohol.

Sixthly, is alcohol intoxicating? Yes, it has that chemical property. Unless you’re missing the enzyme to break down alcohol, you can have a drink (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1 shot of liquor) and still be in control of all of your faculties. But multiple drinks move you beyond enjoying the pairing of a nice red with a steak and get you into the realm of intoxication. You act different. Your hand-eye coordination and reflex times are significantly affected. This is clearly off-limits according to the Bible. There are stories of bad things happening when people are drunk (i.e. Gen. 19:30-38). And there are verses like Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Being influenced and controlled by alcohol is wrong. We should be under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, but one of the works of the flesh is drunkenness (Gal. 5:21). So never drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication is a clear way that Christians will be weird to much of the world.

Is it an idol? It can definitely be. Most people drink in order to forget their problems; that is looking to alcohol for something you should look to God for. We drink in order to lighten up and have pleasure instead of finding pleasure in God. It’s also a way to dull the conscience and do and say the sinful things that are in your heart without a filter: anger, sex…

Is it wise? It depends on your genetics. Your finances – I think if you look at Christians’ budgets the amount of money we give away is about equivalent to the world’s entertainment budget, a big part of which will be alcohol. Drinking water saves big time on eating out and groceries so you can spend that money elsewhere. Something to consider. It depends on your upbringing and who is watching. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Can you get drunk? No. Are you free to drink? Yes, but use your freedom wisely. If you don’t drink, don’t feel superior or self-righteous.

One thing I worry about is people who grew up in Christian contexts and for various reason are not that experienced with alcohol, going to another extreme in their 20s and making it an obsession. And why? I think it is largely because they are listening to the world tell them what is cool and desperately wanting to be cool. Magazines and movies portray drinking as cool, sophisticated, smart, fun… and too often Christians let the world tell them what is cool.

I went to a Christian college that required students to pledge not to drink alcohol. One summer I worked for a company selling books with several other students from our school. Some of us sold enough books to win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, over Spring Break. We showed up and there the legal drinking age was 18. It was an ethical quandary. Several students were excited by the opportunity. One night we went on a booze cruise and everyone was getting sloshed. To be in the world meant going to the party. To be not of the world meant not getting drunk. And in this case not even drinking, because we had given our word that we wouldn’t. That made people curious and opened up conversations about Jesus. But one student from our school was wasted and ended the night making out on top of a girl on the beach. People noticed that too. Brothers and sisters: let’s be wise and winsomely weird when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Tobacco

Let’s quickly walk through the 8 questions with tobacco… What do you think? Is it legal, necessary, good, healthy, addictive, intoxicating, idolatrous? What does wisdom say?

Caffeine

What do you think?

Marijuana

Legal: starting January 1 if over 21.

Necessary: no

Good: maybe CBD??

Healthy: maybe CBD??

Addictive: yes

Intoxicating: This is the real issue. There is almost no way to ingest or inhale THC without getting high. And there’s really no reason to do it apart from the experience of being stoned. It takes somewhere around four beers to get drunk. And some people like the taste of a beer. But nobody is eating cannabis brownies for the taste. And it takes only four puffs of a joint to get high (less than 7 mg of THC). So… what does the Bible’s prohibition against getting drunk mean for Mary Jane??

Idol: yes

Wise: no…  medical??

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment, Gender, Sexuality, & Family, Bioethics, Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Entertainment…

Prayer – Get in groups with those who live in your neighborhood: Tri-Taylor/Medical District, Little Italy/UIC, ABLA/University Village, East Pilsen, West Pilsen, outside the UIC Area…

Pray for forgiveness for ways we’ve sinned with food/alcohol/drugs and ask God’s help to change something you’ve been convicted by…

Pray for our church to be filled with the Spirit…

Pray for opportunities to witness to the superior pleasure of Christ to those who get drunk at the company Christmas party or high as marijuana is becoming legal…