Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Times When a Christian MUST Drink Alcohol (2)

[See introduction HERE.]

A Christian MUST drink alcohol when medical wisdom dictates alcohol should be ingested to prevent/cure certain ailments.

No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments (1 Tim 5:23 ESV)
Apparently Timothy had been refraining from drinking wine. Paul commands Timothy to stop this total abstinence policy in regards to wine because the wine would help his upset stomach and other [related] ailments. (One likely reason that wine would help Timothy's ailments is because the fermentation process helped to purify the drink, as I noted that Dr. Mohler mentioned in his talk about alcohol at Southern Seminary.) It seems that Timothy's decision to refrain from drinking wine in itself received no rebuke from Paul: it seems that Timothy was free to abstain. However, refraining from wine was no absolute necessity for Timothy, and when medical wisdom dictated that he should drink wine to prevent/cure his specific sickness, then it would have been foolish for him to practice total abstinence.

Christians in general should have no issue of conscience over taking medicine with an alcohol content when it is needed. (This seems obvious, but one occasionally hears snide remarks about NyQuil, etc., in fundamentalist circles.) In most cases involving stomach troubles or other ailments, we now have better medicines available that preclude the need for drinking wine or other beverage alcohol, but on the mission field (for example) a Christian may find him-/herself with alcoholic drink as the best medical option. The Christian MUST drink alcohol in this case, but he or she must do so neither getting drunk nor using medical necessity as an excuse for foolish or worldly behavior.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Andrew,

A few observations:

-- I find it interesting that Mohler says: "Timothy's decision to refrain from drinking wine in itself received no rebuke from Paul". While Paul didn't rebuke Timothy, he certainly encouraged him to 'violate' his conviction/decision to abstain (and note: we don't know why Timothy abstained, whether it was from religious conviction or not. Perhaps he just didn't want to pay for expensive wine??). It appears to me that most abstainers now days get quite offended when others encourage them to drink, and many see that encouragement as violating the 'weaker brother' principle.

-- You said: "...the fermentation process helped to purify the drink". I'm glad to see you recognize that first century wine was alcoholic. There is a popular argument now days that first century wine was very diluted and was only mixed with water. But fermentation, the very process that purifies the drink, is what creates the alcohol in the drink. Thus, without a substantial amount of alcohol there is no purification. This is why, in your last post, I argued that even a normal serving of first century wine was more than capable of bringing on an alcoholic 'buzz'. If it's not substantially alcoholic then it cannot purify.

-- When talking about the medicinal use, I think it's helpful to consider the health benefits of wine. Of course, modern research has shown that one glass of red wine per day is incredibly healthy for the human heart. Not only is the grape juice itself healthy, but the alcoholic effect is healthy as well. That is, the number one killer in America today is heart disease. It kills more than cancer, drunk driving, diabetes, and everything else combined. And a chief factor in heart disease is stress. Americans are incredibly stressed-out. Wine, however, in how it "gladdens the heart" according to the Psalmist, naturally lowers stress very significantly. Thus, the nutrients in the grape juice and the calming effect the alcohol has on our senses makes beverage wine a very healthy lifestyle choice. Can this be considered medicinal? I certainly think so. Charles Spurgeon loved to smoke cigars on Sunday evenings after preaching because that was the only way he could wind down and relax after a stressful Lord's Day in the pulpit. And in the same way, I believe that the scripture in Psalm 104:15 presents the effects of alcohol as both a sign of God's favor and a means to strengthening and sustaining man in how it's so healthy for the body.

-- You said: "The Christian MUST drink alcohol in this case, but he or she must do so neither getting drunk nor using medical necessity as an excuse for foolish or worldly behavior."

Personally, I disagree with how you've used the idea of worldliness in this discussion (and perhaps I am misunderstanding your use of it). Worldliness is a mindset, a philosophy, a worldview, a doctrine, and it isn't found in things we can taste, touch, handle. I would thus affirm that there can be no instance where alcohol is to blame for a Christian engaging in worldly behavior. That is, if they are using alcohol "as an excuse for foolish or worldly behavior", then the sin is their foolish worldly behavior; the alcohol in this case is just a means to that end. So blaming the alcohol here would be like blaming the ownership of a gun in the case of a murder. Sure, the gun was misused, but even hinting that the ownership of the gun is part of the problem misses the heart issues at hand and will thus lead to a false remedy.

10:42 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Re: "I find it interesting that Mohler says..."

-I apologize that I failed to adequately delineate where my summary of Dr. Mohler began and ended. The section you quote was my own. The point from Dr. Mohler was actually the statement regarding the fermentation process helping to purify the drink.

11:04 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Nate:

I have to say that I disagree somewhat with your broadening out of the term medicinal to include the idea of wine having some health benefits. Especially for the reason that it is my purpose in this particular series of posts to explore times in which it would actually be a SIN of some sort for a Christian to refrain from drinking alcohol. I don't think that these are the only times in which some Christians may choose to drink alcohol in moderation.

-Andrew

10:39 PM  
Blogger Nathan White said...

Andrew,

Pardon me for not clarifying. I was not broadening out the term medicinal and then extending your argument that Christians 'must' drink alcohol for the health benefits. It goes without saying that people have every right to abstain just as they please.

My argument was this: medicinal can include beverage drinking, even when it's not absolutely necessary (medicinal is obviously very subjective).

10:27 AM  

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