Guest Blogger: Some Wise Guy

July 18, 2012

I’m on vacation from home, work, and the blog July 16 – 27.  But today, I’ve got a sweet guest post from K.C. Procter, who blogs at ‘Some Wise Guy.’  K.C.’s been a good blog friend to me for a long time, and I’m really happy to feature him here today.  Leave K.C. some comment love, and then visit his blog and Twitter.  Regular programming will resume Monday, July 30.

superflyHi. My name is KC and I’m an alcoholic.

And I’m a Christian.
And I drank one beer with dinner last night.
And I’m still going to Heaven.

To be more accurate I’m prone to alcoholism. I have a family background in depression, ADD, substance abuse and have a tendency toward obsessive/impulsive behavior. Based on my family history (and what I understand of biology) my brain has a chemical imbalance that causes me to be inclined to drink too much.

But I don’t. Why?

Wine Cooler Christians

Christians have this weird polarized view of alcohol. You’ve got the Mark Driscoll’s on one side drinking Guinness while watching UFC (who, on this one topic I tend to agree with) and the abolitionists on the other decrying anyone who does drink as guilty of making others stumble.

The favorite argument of those passionately opposed to alcohol consumption by Christians is the good ol’ stumble two-step.

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:9

That’s talking about eating meat sacrificed to false gods. Paul explains that people should feel no guilt in eating this kind of meat because by definition false gods have no power over the food and basically a steak is a steak. However, he also points out that if you do feel guilty then don’t partake for the sake of your own conscience. Sounds reasonable.  I refrain from drinking too much because I love my family more than beer, I want to set a good example, and the Bible tells me not to.  But I do occassionally because I’m free to do so, beer goes great with pizza and barbecue, and I have people who love me enough to hold me accountable.

Stop Tripping Each Other

I think that most people who use/abuse the “stumble two-step” don’t really care all that much about the well-being of their neighbors.

For starters, look at who is quoting the stumbling verse. It’s never someone who is actually struggling with alcohol.  It’s nearly always some busybody with boundary issues or a control freak with their knickers in a twist.  Secondly, the verse doesn’t talk about alcohol, but that seems to be the only scenario where it is ever applied. What if something else you did caused a brother to stumble?

Later in the same passage Paul says

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

You could substitute “meat” in that sentence for anything else. Would you be willing to give up chocolate, bacon, movies or music if it made your brother/sister stumble?  If we lived by other peoples’ shortcomings, we wouldn’t be allowed to do anything!

Besides, we aren’t supposed to be using our weaknesses to control others.

And there is a big difference between “making someone stumble” and “someone taking offense” because of your actions.

What Would Jesus Drink?

Maybe you think it’s a cop-out argument, but if Jesus was so vehemently opposed to drinking, do you really think His very first recorded miracle would’ve been transforming water into fine wine at a wedding party? Given the size and duration of wedding celebrations in that day I would bet good money there was at least one alcoholic present and more than one attendee had to call for a mule ride home.

Personally, I would love to sit down with Jesus in an Irish pub and order two pints of Guinness. An intimate conversation with my Savior about real life and stories from His time on the road with the disciples over ice cold brews sounds like Heaven to me.

How about you? What’s your take on alcohol? Should Christians drink at all? Would you be willing to give up something if it made your brother/sister stumble? If you had a beer with Jesus what would you order?

31 responses to Guest Blogger: Some Wise Guy

  1. Love this post. I agree a couple of pints of Guinness with Jesus would be brilliant. As a teacher I come across a lot of people who look forward to their drink after work. I like a drink, but I try not to make a big thing about it.

    I think the bigger question of whether or not we are willing to give something up if it causes a brother/sister to stumble is an important one and one worth remembering. If I’m honest it’s not something that I think about much, so thank you for your post. May I not do anything willingly to cause another to stumble.

    Be blessed.

  2. “There is a big difference between “making someone stumble” and “someone taking offense” because of your actions.”

    Great insight, KC!

    • Thank you, Tony. This was a bit of a stretch for me and I’m grateful to Matt for the opportunity.

      Congrats on being a staff writer for Prodigal Magazine by the way. :)

  3. Couldn’t disagree with you more…or maybe I’m just a busybody. Not using alcohol is simply the choice of the wise (check out those several passages in proverbs). Alcohol is involved in more violence, divorce, crime, death, stupid decisions than just about anything else. I am a police chaplain and just the other day I asked an officer what part alcohol played in most of his arrests; he thought 95%. Alcohol has so many dangers attached to it that I hate it and I hate what it does. At least bacon doesn’t alter a personality, drop inhibitions and make people do dumb things otherwise beer pong would be traded in for a frying pan. The part alcohol plays in this nation, how it is advertised, what it costs us is shameful. AND Jesus would not play a part in someone getting drunk, a great sin, he would not provide the means to do that. You cannot impose western / modern alcohol use on first century Jewish customs. We make fun of snake handlers but Proverbs equates snake handling to alcohol handling. And why would you, knowing your family history and your proneness to addiction even put that thing in your hand???? Or maybe I’m a busybody……

    • Hey Brian, I don’t think you’re a busybody. First off, thank you for serving as a police chaplain. I have family members in the force and I’m grateful for all you do to keep us safe.

      I agree that alcohol plays an unfortunate role and is often abused, but I don’t think partaking of it is a sin. Is it better to avoid it altogether? Yes. I can’t argue with you there.

      Also, I don’t think I’m “impos[ing] western / modern alcohol use on first century Jewish customs”. The first recorded act of drunkenness was Noah which was WAY before Jesus. I think we are all sinful creatures across human history and given the opportunity are prone to abuse whatever substance is available (alcohol, bacon, chocolate).

  4. Good post. there’s another issue here too, that of responsibility. I have a coworker who recently turned 21 and actually waited until then to start drinking. He asks me what’s good, and I recommended Guiness. I said it’s great on tap, and he asked me what bars are good.Wouldn’t know, so I told him many restaurants have it. I find that when I do talk about drinking it reveals the fact that I have standards attached to it. I also give myself rules. (For example, never drink because you’re upset or need to calm down. Drinking to medicate is asking for trouble.) Moderation seems to be a dirty word in our society, and that is the real problem.

    • Great perspective, Matt. I know it’s usually mentioned at the end of a suggestive TV ad, but it’s still true: Drink responsibly.

  5. Well, as a recovering or recovered alcoholic, I don’t really think the debate is about whether or not it’s OK to have a pint of Guinness.

    If we want to be clearly biblical, it is drunkenness that is a sin, not drinking. I once worked at a Baptist high school that said drinking of any sort was a sin. I think they were wrong. Of course the other side of things is the tremendous damage alcohol and alcoholism causes as listed by another commenter – sin or not sin?

    The most important thing to me is the part about others stumbling. That verse is a perfect example of the things that Christians do that MAY cause another to sin. Like most things Jesus, it’s about the heart, not the letter of the law. I don’t think is only about meat; that was a good example for what Paul was saying at the moment.

    My Christian friends over the years know that I once was a raging alcoholic. Although some even believe that I can be healed, I am not taking any chances in case they are wrong. They are loving enough to ask if I mind when they have a drink in my presence – or they tell me that alcohol is being served at an event if I am going. That is what stumbling is about. They don’t want me to drink because of their actions. It is out of love and consideration, not some legalistic view of holiness.

    My pastor once said, drunkenness is a sin and alcoholism is a disease, let’s not lead others into temptation.

    “Would you be willing to give up chocolate, bacon, movies or music if it made your brother/sister stumble? If we lived by other peoples’ shortcomings, we wouldn’t be allowed to do anything!”

    Great logic, but the flaw is in loving others. I abstain from whatever makes another feel loved. My kid doesn’t like the sight of lobsters on the dinner table, so we have them at a restaurant. We don’t watch R movies in the presence of our children, but on occasion we have watched one. My wife does not drink because she loves me and I don’t drink. Her family comes for Thanksgiving dinner, and I buy a 6 pack for them. We need to be sensitive to the needs of others. Self-righteous anything is never Kingdom building.

    So have a beer, it doesn’t matter to me. Have men’s group at a bar, but please don’t sin or delude those with alcohol problems that your theology is more important than loving them by abstaining in their presence if required.

    • Amen, David.

      I want to clear up one thing because I don’t think I wrote it well. Given the same circumstance I would copy the behavior of your Christians friends. If I know someone has a problem with alcohol (addiction, recovery, etc) then I will happily abstain out of love for that person. Their friendship and supporting them is so much more important.

      You’re right. It comes down to the heart. Thank you.

  6. I think one verse that goes overlooked in this discussion is the episode where Jesus says “John came neither eating nor drinking, and you said he was demon possessed. I came eating and drinking, and you called me a glutton and a drunkard.” Given that context, it seems abundantly clear to me–not some circuitous logical stretch–that Jesus’s use of the word “drinking” refers to alcoholic beverages, given that it would have made no sense to use “drunkard” in the second half of the sentence unless “drinking” in the first half referred to alcohol. Which means…if alcohol is sinful…and Jesus seems to say that he drank alcohol…and Jesus lived sinlessly….we have a seriously unresolved tension.

    This line of reasoning makes many people extremely uncomfortable. Be warned.

    • they said a lot of things about Jesus that were exaggerations or simply not true. They also called him the devil! You cannot take this slam against Jesus (which he used as a point against the truth haters) and make it a decisive statement about Jesus using alcohol. This kind of Bible interpretation is what makes me uncomfortable. If he did use it it wasn’t the same as the usage of it in America today.

      • …but the point wasn’t about what they said, but about Jesus’s own words: I came drinking, and you called me a drunk. I maintain that’s not a haphazard interpretation, but a fairly common-sensical understanding of the sentence. In short, I don’t think it’s me “making a decisive statement,” but him.

        • Again, if you want to take the statement in that way then John didn’t eat or drink…but we know that he did both. It was a political attack against Jesus that he couldn’t win in their eyes no matter what he said. They were haters and misconstrued both John and Jesus actions. Did Jesus admit to drinking alcohol? Hardly. He was pointing out the fallacy of their judgement. Did Jesus drink alcohol? Was it the same as our alcohol? Was he condoning alcohol? I hardly think that what happened in 1st century Judaism can be compared to alcohol in 2013 America.

  7. I thought you said on facebook you were writing a controversial post. Looks like you just brought truth to me. :)

  8. I could not agree with you more. I am amazed to listen to people claiming to drink a single drink is sin. Gluttony is a sin, so does that make eating a sin? Should we not bring food in the house from fear someone might over-eat?

    Kudos on your selection of Guiness. If you can see thru it, it isn’t worth drinking :-)

  9. I consider my father was an alcoholic so I have a very strong aversion to beer just because he abused it all throughout my childhood. From that abuse I was abused verbally and that habit stood in the way of any kind of healthy marital relationship between him and my mother. I believe it’s okay for Christians to drink as long as it’s done in moderation. I don’t consume alcoholic beverages most of the time for the reasons stated, although if I’m at a fancy restaurant I will get some wine or champagne. And that’s okay. I would totally be willing to give up something if it made someone stumble.

    • Thank you for being transparent, Thomas. I had a militant aversion to it, but have come to appreciate it in moderation.

      Like Brian comments above, alcohol plays an unfortunate role and is often abused. I’m glad to hear you’ve come through it.

      Godspeed.

  10. I don’t like beer. never couldn’t get a taste for it…i tried…you know, with the whole lemon and salt added to it and what not….blah! yuuk!…BUT THATS OK! THAT’S ME!

    I totaly ok with anyone around me drinking beer…i don’t care. as long as I don’t have to drag you home….we cool…drunkeness is serious. i think something about not getting into heaven.

    oh…but i’d have a margarita or pina colada or sangria any day….that stuff is pretty good…

  11. Great Post KC! One of the things that seems to be an indicator to me whether something is an issue in my life is the motive behind my impulse. If I’m stressed and run to a glass of wine every time and not God, that is an issue. Likewise, if I’m stressed and run to a glass of pepsi every time and not God, that is the same issue. If I find that I get drunk when I drink wine, problem. If I find that I only ever drink pepsi and haven’t seen the bottom of a glass of water in as long as I can remember, problem. I know that there are all sorts of issues that come from alcoholism/ drug abuse, I’ve witnessed and experienced it first hand, but alcohol consumption must be addressed on an individual level. With reference to the stumble two-step, that is always used in context of being in the presence of the affected party. How come no one brings that up! Let’s all agree that we don’t toss back a couple fo cold ones with friends that are actively recovering from alcoholism. I think that’s reasonable.

    • Good insights, Brina. I agree that it is a heart issue and comes down to motivation. I a beer now and then with dinner, but as a “solution” to problem or stress when I should be confiding in my wife or relying on God.

      Great encouragement to consider others. Thank you.

  12. I work for “Dad” in the Middle East.

    I also love love love me some beer. But alcohol is shameful in the dominant religion here. So I don’t drink when I’m in-country because of the message it sends and the notches of progress I could lose with devout religious friends. But you better believe when I get out of country that I enjoy myself a good beer. I’m from the Pacific Northwest. We have good beer.

    Also, bacon is a completely relevant topic. Bacon (pork as a whole) is also forbidden here. I don’t eat bacon here for the same reason. But I sure as heck get a bacon cheeseburger when I get back State-side.

    All this to say — moderation (as commented on above) is the keyword. Drunkenness = bad, but even Solomon talks about wine being good for the heart. In Ecclesiastes 8, he says: 15 “So I commend the enjoyment of life , because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” <– you really think he's not talking about alcoholic drink here? He talks about joy accompanying you in your toil.

    Let's take the kid gloves off. Lot's daughters got Dad drunk so they could get prego by him. Shameful, yeah? But awful was that he gave his daughters over to the licentious crowd in town to be raped in the first place. That meant that they'd never get married after that awful night. But God still didn't destroy them. But the girls didn't exactly have to coerce Dad to drink. The booze was already there. They just gave him more than normal.

    Navigate wisely through the gray-er areas: abuse of alcohol is bad; but, worse yet is the criminalization of alcohol. When we make it forbidden, we make it desirable. Look at what Paul says about the law in Romans.

    With Jesus? He and I'd be tossing horseshoes drinkin' IPAs from Deschutes Brewery.

    • Scott, when you get back stateside we’ll have to grab a few cold ones.

      “Navigate wisely through the gray-er areas”. Solid words indeed.

      And Deschutes is one of my father-in-law’s favorite breweries. I’m a Redhook fan. :)

  13. I think there’s a difference between living so that you couldn’t possibly cause _anyone_ to stumble, and living a life of service to those who are actually around you. If my eating bacon caused my husband to sin/stumble, it’d be tough, but we’d have a bacon-free home. If my eating bacon caused an unknown 7th Day Adventist to stumble…well…I’m not even sure how I’d know about it. Since it doesn’t cause those actually in my life to stumble, we eat bacon in our home.

    Alcohol is just an easy line to draw in the sand. Personally, I don’t like the taste, so I don’t partake usually (except when people insist they have a drink that I won’t taste it in, then I politely drink their drink, taste their alcohol, and continue not liking it). I don’t think that the Bible says drinking is wrong, but it’s one of those things that has so few positives associated with it (especially since I don’t even like the taste) that it’s just easier at times to just not drink.

    A little history lesson though….(Southern) Baptists (known for their typically anti-alcohol stance) started as a denomination about the time that the US was beginning to take shape. There were two primary types of people coming to the “New World” at that time – religious folk, and folks that were in it for the money/opportunity. Those who were not religious tended to have looser morals than the religious folks – they went to bars where there was dancing (with hookers), gambling (usually card games), and drinking (alcohol). So to show that they were different (“not of this world, etc.”), Southern Baptist tradition (not official theology) said “no dancing,” “no playing cards,” and “no drinking.” In my lifetime (I just turned 36), a lot of those cultural norms within the SB church have started changing, but it’s hard to change your ways after hundreds of years of tradition. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know their church history anymore and just know the “rules” that have been passed down through tradition.

  14. Thank you for calling out the application of being aware of those you actually associate with.

    I think it’s important to note that there is a difference between “stumble” and someone just disagreeing with you. A staunch Southern-Baptist might believe drinking is a sin, but I’m not necessarily making them stumble by drinking. Now, if I had a good friend who had a real problem with it I wouldn’t drink in front of him, but that doesn’t mean I’m pouring it down the drain.

    Also, interesting history lesson. Kind of helps provide some perspective. And yes, traditions are hard to change. Sometimes it’s good they don’t, though. :)

    P.S. I’m glad you don’t have to be a bacon-free home.

  15. Great post, KC. I am with the band of people who believe that alcohol is not sinful, just our hearts. Jesus said it best when he said that it isn’t what goes into the body that makes you sin, it (very roughly paraphrased here) is what goes into the body. My hubby and I occasionally drink a beer on the weekends. I totally respect anybody who abstains from alcohol because they see it’s effects or because they have family history of alcoholism. My grandparents who led me to Christ were good Southern Baptists and didn’t touch alcohol. One time, when we were vacationing together when I was an adult, I was wanting to try a local beer with dinner. I told them of my intention and made sure it wouldn’t make them uncomfortable. They were so gracious and basically said, “To each his own.”. Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy the beer, either because it tasted really bad or because I knew I was doing something that they really didn’t approve. Or maybe my grandma was praying that I wouldn’t enjoy it and God answered her prayers :-).

  16. “Personally, I would love to sit down with Jesus in an Irish pub and order two pints of Guinness.”

    Me too brother, me too. Well said.

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