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Monday, August 15, 2011 | Comments (83)

Looks like John MacArthur’s most recent article hit a nerve. He knew that before he wrote it—he knew it would offend some people—and yet he was still willing to write it.

I can hear some of you in the YRR crowd ask, “But why? Why would John risk alienating us, an enthusiastic group of young reformers?”

Simple. John thinks you’re worth it. He cares, and he’s willing to say the things you might not particularly like, at first blush anyway.

Of all the people who roam the vast fields of evangelicalism, you YRRers appreciate straight talk. You are right to be suspicious of those who pitch candy-coated messages in pretty packages. That’s not John. He’ll never tickle your ears, and we know that’s why you’re still listening.

Just in case you missed John’s point in the dust-up (not only in our comment thread, but in other playgrounds as well), here it is: It’s irresponsible and wrong for YRR leaders to make beer/wine-drinking one of the badges of the YRR movement. That’s it. So, if that shoe fits you, wear it; If it doesn’t, let it pass.

John clearly would like to persuade you of the wisdom of abstinence, but he's not interested in binding the conscience of the entire YRR movement by an artificial rule. And at the very least, he was calling the YRR leadership to exercise pastoral wisdom and compassion, knowing the devastation alcohol abuse brings in a beer-soaked culture. Here’s a quote: “The last thing I would ever want to do is be the cause of stumbling for one of” [those] “who have been delivered from alcohol addiction.”

John said, “It is puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants—especially in church-sponsored activities.” To illustrate his point, he then quoted a major leader in one sphere of the YRR movement, Darrin Patrick, who expressed a concordant level of dismay. Here’s what Patrick said:

As I coach and mentor church planters and pastors, I am shocked at the number of them who are either addicted or headed toward addiction to alcohol. Increasingly, the same is true with prescription drugs. One pastor I know could not relax without several beers after work and could not sleep without the aid of a sleeping pill. [Church Planter (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 51]

Can someone please help me understand how John is so terribly misguided with his concerns? He is expressing a perfectly legitimate pastoral concern, which is shared by Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, and many other faithful pastors.

But again, it’s the young pastors and church leaders who think John’s aim is to convert everyone into grumpy, fundamentalist teetotalers. It’s not about stealing joy; it’s about promoting pastoral wisdom and compassion for people. Church leaders must consider the consequences of what they approve and promote.

Paul’s version of contextualization led him to set aside his right (1 Corinthians 8-10); some of the YRR leaders indulge their rights and parade them before their people. “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). As a stronger brother in issues of conscience, Paul’s concern was to protect the conscience of the weak—he kept his liberties to himself.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. (Romans 14:20-22a)

If you are a YRRer, you lack the vantage point of age and experience—that’s one of the liabilities of being young. So, consider the wise counsel of those who have gone before you, those who are older and more seasoned than you. And as you look for leadership and direction, consider these words from Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Men like John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, and Russell Moore stand firm in that category.

Travis Allen
Director of Internet Ministry


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#1  Posted by Darren D.  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 7:34 PM

I praise God for Pastor John MacArthur and his willingness to put himself out there like this and exposed, to the public, the multitudes that do not seem to consider 1 Cor. 8-10. The YRR leaders and church's are becoming very prevelent and a force in our society church family. I have seen myself what this type of acceptance can do to our youth. As Travis so eloquently wrote....Our youth are VERY susceptible to drugs/alcohol of any type. To give the GREEN light to it, is basically giving them a green light to drink first ....maybe in moderation (but moderation is so subjective) that it EASILY become excess. It is SO MUCH Better to teach to be seperate from the worlds ways and take Pride in our Lord and Savior and be couter culture. Be in the world but NOT OF the World! To be filled instead with the HOLY Spirit ...not alcohol of any kind. Its just to addictive and its like playing with fire. Thank you "Grace to You" and Pastor John MacA for not hiding from this issue as so many pastors and churches do. As they are afraid to rock the boat on an issue like this. They know that many many of the congregation drink, and would cause alot of trouble to bring it up. I thank God for "Grace to You"!!

#2  Posted by Darren D.  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Thank you John MacArthur and "Grace to You" for bringing this out in the open. It is hard sometimes to speak the truth in Love. But when it becomes increasinly hard to differentiate those in Christ with those of the World. We have a huge problem, and are most likely NOT walking with the Lord and Savior (seperate from the Ways of this World)......We should be "in the World....but not OF the World" The youth of today or yesterday...cannot handle that type of freedom. Our youth are increasingly becoming addicts, alcoholics with many of them claiming to be Born again Christians. We need to be better examples at Christ has commanded us. Alcohol is a Drug and is very Addictive....better to stay away from it and Preach being filled with the Holy Spirit instead of beer and Wine. God Bless you Pastor John MacArthur and Travis Allen!

#3  Posted by Dominic Bonasio  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Awesome articles. Thank you Pastor MacArthur for not compromising. It is amazing how some people lack such discernment.

#4  Posted by Jeremy Notchick  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Totally agree Travis. Great points in what you wrote. I totally agreed with why Pastor John wrote the article in the first place and had not one quarrel with the reasoning behind it. I too have a big problem with alcohol being promoted in the church. Such things should not be promoted and that is why I do not drink a beer anywhere but the comfort of my home. If doing that would make one of my brothers or sisters stumble than I would gladly give it up. You see, beer is a nice cold beverage to have once in a while, or a glass of wine, but I will never tell a brother or sister they must accept that. In fact I would say the opposite, I would chose to not talk about it or do it in front of them.

Too many people in my young generation are being led astray. It's the age old saying, "look, you can still have fun and be a christian." It's like saying, "look, you can still commit adultery and be a christian, you can still get wasted and party hard and be a christian, you can still do drugs and be a christian and you can still have a foul mouth and be a christian." We simply know this is not true, we are called to live holy and because of that we must not encourage drinking, but instead discourage it. At the same time, because Pastor John's point was not that drinking at all was a sin, but rather it should not be the face of the YRR movement, I think the discussion got out of hand and led to many people being hurt, including myself simply because of my tattoos. I can see why it got out of hand, because people are very passionate about this issue, but I think if we take a little more time to reflect on the scripture which is above the submit button, Proverbs 17:9, than there would be more love and less bashing.

That being said, the only thing I had a problem with in Pastor John's article was that the wine was different back then. All I wanted was an answer to both A) What has caused Pastor John to make this conclusion and B) The historical support and references for his conclusion.

By asking this I was one step short of being called a heretic for question this. I have the utmost respect for Pastor John and his dedication to bringing forth the uncompromising unadulterated Word of God.

So with that being said, I would love an answer to those question as it would really help me dig deeper into what Pastor John was saying in the article. Thanks everyone and God Bless.

#5  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Thanks for the post Travis, I have really enjoyed this series!!

#6  Posted by Darren D.  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 9:15 PM

@Jeremy #4 - You asked, "That being said, the only thing I had a problem with in Pastor John's article was that the wine was different back then. All I wanted was an answer to both A) What has caused Pastor John to make this conclusion and B) The historical support and references for his conclusion" Pastor John did an extensive research and Historical study on Wine in the New Testament times. If you listen to his Audio Series, "Be not drunk on Wine" Parts 1-3.....he goes into great detail on this and clearly explains how historically speaking the Wine of Jesus times and our times is quite different. They did regularly mix wine with their water and by today's standards would be considered non-alcoholic in thier content. The wine we drink today has not been mixed and was considered back then to be a barbaric drink, due to its high alcohol content. Check it out...its really good stuff. Don't know if you know this, but Pastor John, also believes that Jesus most definately created the universes best Wine (grape juice) ever known and or tasted by man...when he performed his miracle in Cana! Wish I could have tried some of that!

#7  Posted by Brian Henson  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 9:18 PM

I am always amazed at the lengths many Christians go to just to defend their drinking -- all in the name of Christian liberty. I am a YRR'r and I've learned that the best thing I can do as a young pastor is to keep my mouth closed and learn from those who are much wiser and more seasoned (and both come with age) than I am.

That would be my advice for anyone offended by J. MacArthur's comments on the YRR movement.

#8  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, August 15, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Jeremy (#4),

I'd encourage you to listen to the audio of Mohler and Moore that Travis linked you. Dr. Mohler doesn't provide his sources, but he also makes similar statements regarding the difference between wine in biblical times and modern alcohol.

That audio is worth listening to for anyone wanting to defend their right to drink. It may not convince you, but at least you'll see that MacArthur is in line with scores of other Christians around the country and one of the largest seminaries in the country. He's not out in left field as some YRR would have you believe!

#9  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 4:15 AM

#4 Jeremy

Google this : 6375-wine-bible-times-same-what-we-call-wine-today

#10  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 6:37 AM

The article was solid. And worth asking the question, primarily in terms of motivation for, and appropriate displays of freedom.

As with Jeremy, Paragraph 9 lost me, however. I think Dr. M made his argument quite well without a need to explain away Paul's command to Timothy (which would seem rather unnecessary if the 'barely alcohol' interpretation were fully accurate).

I recognize that sincere scholars do hold this view, and that extensive historical study gives it some credence, but most who hold to this view are ironically opposed to the historical Jesus that very similar studies produce, and for good reason.

That said, my main problem with the inclusion was that it hurt the flow of his argument, which was not on the morality of drinking moderately, but on the propriety of making alcohol a modern day icon.

#11  Posted by Victoria Lynch  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 6:47 AM

Thank you for this-I thought it was very clarifying for some who may have misunderstood the tone and point of Dr. MacArthur's original post.

#14  Posted by Justin Hatfield  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 8:34 AM

I personally found the articles to be spot on. Thanks John and your Pastoral Leadership team for keeping it real.

In my opinion, the only reason that people would get upset about something like this is because they have something to lose. And I have to ask, what do you have to lose...?? (really.....drink a coke)

I enjoy a cold beverage on occassion, but I'm very very careful around who I do it around. My preference is in the comfort of my own home and in very limited quantities. (not in excess). I do this not to hide it from others, but for the simple fact that I don't want to be on point for causing someone else to stumble. I don't want that on my shoulders.

The fact is alcohol can impare your judgement in any quantity. How can we serve and witness to others if we are in an impared state of mind.

To Travis' point, I think was directed more to the acceptance and promotion of alcohol by church leaders. I would expect more from my church leaders, and if they started promoting it, I would question their discernment. I applaud John for his original post and holding them accountable.

We all have probably seen some effect of alchol in our personal is what the Bible warns with regard to alcohol use.

Isaiah 28:7-8 (hallucinations, bad decisions, sickness, filth)

Proverbs 4:17 (violence)

Proverbs 20:1 (lack of wisdom)

Proverbs 21:17 (monetarily/spiritually poor)

Acts 2:13 (humiliation)

Ephesians 5:18 (debauchery)

Galatians 5:19-21 (sinful, separation from God)

I Corinthians 6:9-10 (deceit, separation from God)

Revelation 14:8 (destruction)

Some of you may say that this is extreme and not what we promote, but I ague that it starts with acceptance and lack of discernment and discipline.

Thanks for lettting me voice my opinions.

#16  Posted by Mark Lamprecht  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Concerning the two wine theory do a web search for -> Wine and the Bible Origin of the "Two Wine Theory" <- which will give reference to debunking the two essays, "Bacchus" and "Anti-Bacchus" which promoted abstinence and are thought to be the origin of said theory. The web search should being you to Godofcomfort . com that has much research on the subject. However, note Plato's comment below.

"It is true that the Greeks called those who drank undiluted wine "Barbarians". Homosexuality is regarded as shameful by barbarians and by those who live under despotic governments just as philosophy is regarded as shameful by them, because it is apparently not in the interest of such rulers to have great ideas engendered in their subjects, or powerful friendships or passionate love-all of which homosexuality is particularly apt to produce."

Also note what did with the diluted wine.

"Another common form of homosexuality in classical Greece originated in the symposion, an aristocratic male drinking group. Guests reclined on couches in front of low tables laid with light snacks and a mildly alcoholic water-wine mixture.

The wine was poured by young male or female slaves, often chosen for their beauty. There were games, entertainments performed by the slaves, speeches, and conversations. The evening often ended with a drunken riot through the streets."(Emphasis added)

#17  Posted by Mark Cooper  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Travis: Thank you for your article. You did a lot of clarification and it helps tremendously! The replies to the last blog got WAY off track.

Pastor John: Thank you for being straightforward and for feeding the flock. I love you brother.

#18  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 9:19 AM

I have gotten two reoccurring arguments from this series about those that support moderate drinking (like Darren D alluded to...whatever that means?).

One, rights. Drinkers have rights. I agree. Two. Jesus made & drank wine. I agree. Jesus did make wine BUT I do not support the argument that it was the wine we are familiar with today. And after careful research the last few days and researching the research others have done...yes, outside John MacArthur's research, I'm convinced Jesus made nothing less or more than really fresh grape juice loaded with anti-oxidants! The best grapes, the best juice, "right off the vine", so to speak.

About rights. Please indulge again with my personal experience of raising ten teenagers. That was my mission field for years. Like clockwork, one after the other hit around 13 years old & they discovered....dun dun dun dunnnn, ....they had RIGHTS!

I mean, folks, their rights blinded them to the rights of others as well as the care & safety of others. And some, not all but some, accused me of trying so spoil their fun. My oldest daughter called me years later when dealing with her own teenage daughter & upon answering the phone, immediately went into, "Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am for thinking all those times you were crazy!" I felt like the MasterCard commercial..."Priceless"!

I worked so hard trying to instill into my children, " Think carefully about what you are saying. Do you want what you want with no regard to others comfort or safety and security?" The answer was a non answer. "I still don't see why or what's wrong with.......?" Why did they answer like that? It had to do with pretty much what this series has pointed out. They lacked the maturity needed to be a person of discernment. They just didn't have it....yet. And they were blind. Ephesians 4:18. Just clueless and couldn't be reasoned with.

Another thing I noticed about the immature and how they protested and demanded their rights. There was little if, any, talk about their responsibility should they be allowed to exercise their rights and it backfired on them. But that would be thinking it through. That would require them to exercise their minds. Obviously, they were not ready for any kind of leadership responsibilities. Successful, qualified leaders consider others first.

Know what else they were passionate about? JUSTICE! For themselves, of course. If another person, while exercising his/her rights caused any inconvenience to their rights, "Off with their heads!" They wanted justice and expected it to be swift!

Thank you Jesus, they grew up and I can still speak in complete sentences! I just don't ever know where I parked my car?

Yes, this series can really "separate the men from the boys". Thanks GTY. You've made me do my homework and that's a very good thing! As one bible scholar suggested, too many read about Jesus & wine through the eyes of this culture. It's too hard for them to see it any other way.

#19  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Thank you Travis for the article and the link to Mohler and Moore's conversation. In light of that conversation, I think I can safely say that some people have more of a personal disagreement with Pastor MacArthur than rather a biblical disagreement. The disagreements of this kind come, however, wrapped in biblical disagreement, and often push the conversation to issues that have nothing to do with what it's been discussed. I almost smiled when I heard Dr. Mohler use words like "immature" and "adolescent" when referring to the young Christian generation of leaders who approve of alcohol (the topic was clearly titled Alcohol and Ministry).

# 10, Taylor, indeed the main point of the entire series has not been the morality of drinking moderately, but if you have followed the series since the beginning (including comments) you will see that was what people were trying to argue for. Hence I don't see how Travis' article hurts the argument of the series.

Also Taylor, I'd like to ask you to explain this statement:

"most who hold to this view are ironically opposed to the historical Jesus that very similar studies produce, and for good reason. " Thanks

"We should, for the glory of God, remove this temptation, and remove this snare from the lives of families and churches because it is a small thing for us to remove this awful snare, and it would be a dangerous thing for us to allow it in place." Albert Mohler

#20  Posted by Greg Moering, Jr.  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Once again, I'm not one who drinks alcohol and I don't particularly if someone does, but I must concur with what Pastor MacArthur has been presenting. It's not so much the brew itself as much as it is defining Christian liberty as the consumption, production, etc. of the brew. These articles have got me thinking, "Am I letting something other than Jesus define me as a Christian?" I like Christian rock-n-roll, metal, contemporary and praise music and music in general is big for me, but am letting those things define me rather than Jesus? I think that these articles are really hitting at is something much deeper than beer. These articles, as much, if not all, of Pastor MacArthur's ministry does, are asking, "Who or what is Lord of your life?" Is Jesus the definition of Christian liberty or is things that will perish in the end? That is what I must ask myself. Is Jesus the one who defines me? Is Jesus the one that I find myself? When someone meets me and gets to know me are they coming in contact with the risen Christ or are they hearing about my interests? This is what these articles have spoken to me. Is it me or Jesus? At 25 I don't understand why anyone who names the name of Christ, myself included, would seek liberty or identity in anyone or anything but Jesus.

May God continue to bless this ministry as it proclaims the truth of the Word. It is the preaching of the Word that has continually developed my understanding and the way I live over these past 9 years as a Christian and I am thankful to God Almighty for His Word.

In Christ,


#21  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 12:06 PM

# 20, Greg, you say:

"At 25 I don't understand why anyone who names the name of Christ, myself included, would seek liberty or identity in anyone or anything but Jesus. "

Exactly! And there's is where leadership comes in question. If a leader teaches that Jesus kicked-off His ministry as a bartender, guess how many yet-immature-studying-to-be-leaders will believe that nonsense?

#22  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#23  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 1:09 PM

# 20 Greg - Very well said. Please read these excerpts from the lesson Regeneration, Justification and Sanctification by Lehman Strauss. It makes me think of you, dear brother. Very exciting!

Strauss says:Regeneration is the implantation of a new life. The New Birth results in a new standard of righteousness. Child of God, the Holy Spirit is in you. He has set you apart for a definite purpose, and that purpose is God’s perfect will for your life. And be very certain that He has a plan for you. The fact that He is in you is the plain teaching of Scripture. The Christian assembly at Corinth was an assembly of saints, saved persons, set-apart persons, but not all of the saints were saintly in their behavior. There were disputes and divisions among the brethren. Covetousness and carnality had crept in among them. And yet they were instructed that each believer in the assembly was indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit dwells in the Church corporately as well as in each member individually and personally."

Our standard of living, viewed from the financial and material side, has risen to an all time high, but our standard of living, viewed from the spiritual side, has dropped to an all time low. Christians have time for sports, entertainment, travel, and socializing, but little or no time for communion with God in prayer and the study of His Word. The marvels of saving grace call for a life corresponding to our exalted position in Christ. The grace of God which brings Salvation also teaches Sanctification (Titus 2:11, 12).

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15, 16). “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5). “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (II Peter 3:11). “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1). These Scriptures do not promise an eradication of the sin nature nor a state of perfection of this life, but they do exhort the believer to self-dedication and surrender to God.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Practical Sanctification involves the surrender of the will.

#24  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 4:02 PM

It isn't just the "YRR" crowd that disagrees with Pastor Macarthur on the drinking issue, but other Christians as well. Guess this will just be a point I will disagree with Pastor Macarthur on. I have witnessed many Godly Christians, as well as Pastors who use alcohol responsibly, the responsible shouldn't be villified/castigated because of the irresponsible.

#25  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Vilified? Castigated? That's a little dramatic claim for those that simply disagree, isn't it?

#26  Posted by Darren D.  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 4:29 PM

@ Chris #24 - Alcohol is a DRUG ...and very addictive. I'm wondering if you are also okay with using other Drugs (of course in moderation and responsibly) ....Or is Alcohol the only DRUG okay to use...since its Gods choice Drug? Any thoughts on that and other drugs, (Pot, crack, cocaine, glue sniffing, Bath salts, ect)?

Thanks for any input you can give on this.

#27  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#28  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 7:14 PM

I have to disagree, Chris. For a pastor, must have a clear mind and as a shepherd has to watch over his flock. If a shepherd drinks and be idle then wolves can come in to steal the flock. If John MacArthur says so and I believe him. Pastors are not to drink wine for pleasure and during his mission to preach.

#29  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Elaine (#19),

I'm sorry, I meant to agree with the article Travis wrote, and mention that In Dr. M's article, his paragraph on the barbarism of modern wine didn't fit with the drive of his argument.

The reason I would avoid doing that is because it introduces room to debate the issue of alcohol rather than the issue of using liberty (or legality) as a badge of Christianity. The issue is too important to sidetrack unnecessarily.

^On historical Jesus vs historical wine, I made the mistake of doing the same thing; entering the argument about alcohol rather than the issue of its inappropriate use as a symbol of liberty. It's easy to sidetrack the issue at hand. Sorry. If you are interested in my reasoning, I'd be happy to explain offline, feel free to ask Travis for my email, I think he can provide it as a moderator.

#30  Posted by Darren D.  |  Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Taylor #29 - Hi, though I agree with you in that one should not us liberty as a badge of Christianity. I DO believe that Pastor John is right on in telling it like it is. Alcohol is a DRUG and cannot be sugar coated. It is what it is and todays WINE alcohoic content is and was seen as Barbaric (drank by barbarian types and drunks).

It is way too easy to promote anything, drink, smoke, chew, swear, sexual situations and on an on and use the Banner of Christian liberties as a means to the end and still maintain your Christianity.

The bottom line is the Lord said to be INSTEAD filled with the Holy Spirit. Once the Drug is in you...not matter if its to a small degree...inhibitions down, or are under the influence of a DRUG and not the Lord // Holy Spirit.

Don't mean to sound like I'm attacking you..I'm not. Just responding to your input with mine. Thanks for listening

#31  Posted by Brandon Van Deinse  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:03 AM

As a tattooed, pierced, tragically hip young Calvinist, please count me among the first to renounce all this filth surrounding the YRR movement. I am especially repulsed by the prevalence--reverence--of alcohol among this crowd.

Moreover, the attacks against MacArthur are unconscionable. He is our elder, and leveling harsh words against him is dangerous territory.

I am dismayed over the state of young Christians. Pray for us. Rebuke us, even.

And for those of us escaping from this perversion--still bearing the marks, the tattoos and such--please be patient and forgiving with us. Your wisdom is valued, and many of us will heed your rebukes.

Thank you, John MacArthur, for caring to address the death-spiral of the YRR movement.

#32  Posted by Darren D.  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:37 AM

Wow....what a breath of Fresh Air.....Thank you Brandon #31 for the post and words. VERY encouraging to hear. God Bless you my brother!

#33  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:46 AM


May your tribe increase, brother. Thanks for your encouraging comment.

#34  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 2:37 AM


Thanks for your kind words. In keeping with the tone of the original article, I'll only respond to one point. Specifically Paragraph 2. I entirely agree that Christian liberty should not be promoted as a sort of consolation prize for conversion. I also entirely agree that sin should not ever be excused or justified by Christian anything.

I simply think it is a wise tactic for an author to deal specifically with the argument at hand. Otherwise you end up with two separate controversies, both of which deserve careful attention. The problem results when the issues become blurred and neither gets the attention it deserves.

So, please understand that I am not responding to the legality of wine with a meal, because I believe it needs its own discussion, not because I am devaluing your opinion.

As I said earlier, if you want to have that discussion, I'd be happy to dialogue, but I'd prefer to do it via email so that the focus here remains the inappropriate uses of freedom for evangelistic purposes.

Thanks again!

#35  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:00 AM

As I've stated on a previous blog, I'm not quite young or restless, and not reformed (if by that you also mean accepting a Calvinist theology). I like listening to JM and following GTY blogs because it challenges me. My iron needs a little sharpening now and then.

To get it out of the way, I agree 100% that alcohol consumption as a badge is wrong. Like a previous comment said, our identity is in Christ, nothing else.

That being said, on the previous blog, I was pretty steadfast in my defense of moderate drinking. My main hang up is the "IF" your actions will cause a brother to stumble and the "not all things are beneficial." Those are highly subjective terms.

Coming from a predominantly southern baptist area I see more likelihood that my brothers fall in to legalism than alcoholism. So, as the recovering alcoholic is more inclined to teach total abstinence, as a recovering pharisee, I am more likely to focus more on freedom.

However, I seemed to have let myself get into an academic debate and not a view of real life. As providence would have it, we went over Romans 14 in Sunday school this week (and I'm the teacher). While I still hold that the "if" and "beneficial" statements allow some latitude on this issue, Romans 14 is clear that our priority is our responsibility to the brethren and not our personal freedom.

As a related issue, how do you reconcile the idea of sacrificing your freedom for the sake of another and the times Jesus and His disciples seems to exercise their freedom and cause trouble?

In Matthew 2 He doesn't tell them to not pick wheat because it might offend or hurt their witness to the Jews.

In John 9 He doesn't tell the blind man he has to wait until tomorrow to be healed because someone might get the idea it's ok to work on the sabbath and hence break a commandment.

There are many other times that by His healing or acting, He stirs up trouble, offends people and could conceivably be teaching what would otherwise be a faithful person to toss the commandments aside and do whatever they want.

With the theological brainpower which tends to be present on these comment threads, surely someone can help straighten this out?

#36  Posted by Jeff Everett  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:26 AM

Greg - #29

It is great to see that your desire is to have your identity in Christ rather than anything else.


#37  Posted by Patrick Mitchell  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 6:30 AM

So when the New Testament says 'Do not be drunk on wine,' is that heavily diluted grape juice? If it's so heavily diluted and simply fermented to the point of killing some bacteria, why the warning against drunkenness on 'wine'?

Per those who are chiding Christians for going to such great lengths to justify drinking, it's the notion of lording one's conscience over another. Mohler and Moore, in their audio, say they can't make a biblical case for abstinence as THE way to view alcohol. They can point to practical and spiritual dangers, yes. But when the Scriptures don't make an absolute statement about something, like alcohol, and a pastor does--there's bound to be push back, even if it's done poorly.

So let's not discount those who are sincerely pressing for biblical honesty and integrity here as simply trying to justify hedonistic indulgence (not in the Piper sense). I hope we can all be kind to one another in this, as the conversation is sure to continue.

I'm sure everyone's heart in this is for the glory of God and the exultation of Christ.

#38  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 6:36 AM

Brandon #31

Not only may your tribe increase as Tommy suggested, but may your fruit increase unto perfection, as well.

The sin of disrespecting our elders is just as serious as the abuse of harmful substances. And I would add, especially elders who have a proven track record of fruit unto perfection like JM.

Oddly enough, this entire conversation has had an added benefit to it, one that is of particular importance to me. That benefit is an increased awareness of the honor that is due our elders, who have LABORED in the Word (like 40 plus years), and if one strongly disagrees, and finds it painfully difficult to at least do it with a modicum amount of respect, then hold your tongue, bow your head, and ask God to give you some much needed humility.

God bless you,


#39  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 7:45 AM

#31 (Brandon)

Thanks for your comment! I have been villified for making the same comments, probably with nobody realizing that I have a sibling in your same situation, bearing the marks and shame of such a life, which happened AFTER true salvation, bearing a resemblance to the unfortunate situation of 1 Peter 4:15. My sibling is much better now, having repented and returned to their first love long ago, and is now a very ardent opposer of tattooing, piercing, drinking and drugs.

I think we can all learn from persons like yourself, who have had the personal conviction brought upon by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 5:14). Perhaps the reason some people have such convictions for abstinence from all such behavior are the ones whose lives have been affected by them.

Thanks again for your encouraging testimony!

#40  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:59 AM

#18 (Rebecca)

AMEN!!! This is by far one of the best posts on this subject. I am 29, so my teenage years are not so far behind me that I can't remember this attitude in myself and my siblings. Absolutely correct and I think exactly the picture of immaturity I think the writer of Hebrews had in mind in Hebrews 5: 13, 14, and Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11

#41  Posted by Kerry Halpin  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 9:25 AM

#35 (Mark)

The answer to your questions are in the remaining text of Matthew 12, and also in Luke 6:7-9. The rules that were in place at the time were far beyond the dictates of the law. The Jews of the time could no longer read Hebrew and only the Pharisees and other religious leaders had training to read the Hewbrew law. This lead to more rules and regulations decreed by the pharisees that were meant to further restrict and oppress the Jewish people and exalt their own standings in the community.

Mark 7:6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 describes precisely what was the scenario of that time.

Jesus did not do anything to counter the law (Matthew 5:17). Your statement "There are many other times that by His healing or acting, He stirs up trouble, offends people and could conceivably be teaching what would otherwise be a faithful person to toss the commandments aside and do whatever they want." seems to insinuate that Jesus pushed the limits, or indeed broke the law.

However, I do not think you really meant this and I do see the question you intended to ask, which I am attempting to answer. Jesus did nothing that would have countered the law, but much of what He did countered the traditions of men and their false understandings of both the law, and the underpinning of the law which is Romans 13:8,9,10 and Mark 7:20,21,22,23.

#42  Posted by Darren D.  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

@ Patrick #37

You made a couple of statements I'd like to address one. You say, "But when the Scriptures don't make an absolute statement about something, like alcohol, and a pastor does--there's bound to be push back,..."

True the scriptures do not make absolute statements about drinking alcohol....but neither are there absolute statements that say we cannot smoke pot, sniff glue and other things that are bad for us. In some cases, we must use

commone sense based on scripture to see what the Lord would have us to and stay away from. The bible has alot good things to say about WINE and alot of BAD things to say about WINE. How can this be? I believe if we read the scriptures our answers are right there.

The word WINE is not always the same in scriptures and can often be referring to grape juice on the vine, mixed wine with water and unmixed alcoholic barbaric wine. The word and what it encompasses then verses now is not the same as it was translated and as we read it. Today when you hear the word WINE...its almost 99% thought of as being Alcholic

As Pastor John pointed out in his teachings and audios "Be not drunk on WINE" was and IS possible to get drunk on diluted WINE/ grape juice. So there did have to be a warning. In order to do'd have to

drink it heavily. There are plenty of scriptures that WARN of the BARBARIC WINE (the wine that is commonly drank now)...unmixed. Proverbs 23:31 Another...Proverbs 20:1 - Wine is a mocker... There is plenty in the bible to

indicate we should not drink the Barbaric stuff...we should stay away from the DRUG. But yes....that is why the warning against drunkenness on Wine.

#43  Posted by Mike Finnerty  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM

I have a brother and father and mother who love to drink beer. They have never made the claim that they are born again Christians. What is understandably true about the YRR Movement is that they love to drink. It really grieves my hear that I have been told by my parents and sibling who drink that I am taking my religion too seriously and I am sure that they would love it if I joined them one night in their drinking. I would love it if my parents and brother made a committment to follow Christ, but more than that I would love it if they committed to follow Him even if it meant giving up alchohol. My granfather died of an alchohol disease, but what is worse than that he died without knowing the God who created Him. My hearts desire for the YRRers is that they would see that there is a time in our lives when we all make the committment to forsake sin, by repentence and belief in the Saviour. It is unmistakable that you guys have a thirst for theology, but would you consider making the greatest sacrifice? Realize that drunkeness is a sin, and to live that kind of life where you are saying that 'booze is ok', God wont send us to hell, we know our bible theology well enough that christians have liberty to drink, I want to tell you that there is nothing that compares to knowing that God through Jesus Christ can deliever anyone from any vice. I am a forgiven former-homosexual, and I can't even imagine going back to living that kind of life. That is the kind of freedom God offers to everyone. Even YRRers.

#44  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 10:30 AM

#41 (Kerry)

I do understand the context and reasons of Jesus' actions. Jesus was correcting man-made religious traditions, the teaching and observance of which reduced people's relationship with God to legalism.

We have our own social rules and religious traditions regarding alcohol that are not biblical law. I have heard all my life in church and from several comments in this blog series (using verses like Romans 14), that a major reason why a christian shouldn't drink is because to do so (even in private and in moderation) could be misconstrued as an endorsement of more unwise drinking both causing problems for believers' consciences and harming potential witness towards onlooking unbelievers.

No, I do not believe Jesus violated any commandments, but by the above mentioned way of thinking, Jesus was in the wrong because He would have been doing with the sabbath what others claim simply having a drink does with alcohol.

Paul implores us to take the "consider others" approach ignoring man-made hang-ups for the other person's sake while Jesus addressed the man-made hang-ups.

So which do we do? Or is it a case by case situation, depending on the need and maturity of the people involved? Or am I missing something else?

#45  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM

#37 Patrick, good question. What do we not know in regards to any mentioned of drunkenness in scriptures? We know some did get drunk, some were at the risk of getting drunk. But how might that have happened? If you do an Internet search, you can find a wealth of info about how in those ancient days, some believe they did indeed have a way to preserve wine so that it did not become fermented.

So what happened? How did Noah get drunk? Did he and his family not preserve the grape juice properly? I wonder too, if he was going to get drunk, why not while on the ark? Seems maybe he'd have a better excuse there where the condition for bacterial growth was more than ideal?

And what about the happy heart scriptures? Like Psalm 104:15? I don't know. I don't know if we are reading any of these scriptures in context? I don't know if we are equipped to fully understand the circumstances or to fully understand the word used? Were there times "wine" was used in a generic sense? Did wine as we understand wine always mean wine? Are we splitting hairs? If so, will we always split hairs?

On the other side: I still have not heard an answer as to why, other than for medicinal purposes, the reasons some think alcohol was permitted or recommended or perhaps, required in biblical times? And what about today? Why do some drink today? To make the heart glad? Can you make your heart glad with one drink? As with becoming inebriated, does the amount it takes to become glad have to do with weight? One is glad with one drink and another needs four to be glad? Before the teetotalers snicker and the drinkers scoff, I'm being serious. And do you drinkers drink while studying God's Word? I'm curious about how convicted you are about God being favorable to alcoholic beverages of today, how confident?

I think there is no end to this discussion about the use of wine/alcohol in the Bible. So many contexts to consider. So many characters to consider. So much symbolism to consider. So many parables. And then there is the tone. There is the one speaking. There is the setting.

So I can't explain away much. I must go with what I do know. I know the nature and character of Christ. That is the only one true, sure thing that can guide me in this matter of wine as with all things. It has to fit His character for me to follow or accept anything that is not made plain and clear to me whether I be young and restless or old and dragging. On Christ. That is where my eye falls. And if I keep Christ in focus, I will make Godly choices. And if I truly love Him, I will consider all I am called to sacrifice, all I am called to do. I will consider it easy, I will consider it all joy. James 1:2. I will make a point of being glad to surrender my desires for the desires of Christ. Proverbs 15:13. And there will be a peace and a calm that is not available from a bottle. Romans 14:17. That much I know, I think we all know.

#46  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 10:45 AM

#9, Rudi, I really liked the format used there to explain the wine then and the wine now. It was really easy to understand and not too long! Thanks for posting it!

#47  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 11:55 AM

#43 Mike Finnerty - Mike, you humble me. Thank you for your courage to speak out. Your perspective about your grandfather is a song many of us are singing. Such a loss. It's a reminder that we must continue to pray that eyes and ears will be opened and that hearts of stone will be softened to the Gospel! Matthew 11:5, Ezekiel 11:19. Mike, never ever give up praying for your family! I pray too, that you will realize your dream of your parents and brother making Jesus their Lord and Savior and one day you all will be able to rejoice in the Lord, together, as a family!

#48  Posted by John Linak  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:16 PM

#44 (Marc),

You do both in love and humility.

1. You challenge and confront those who cling to worthless human traditions in order that they may attain or maintain their salvation thru human achievement.

2. You yield your personal liberty at times when it comes to matters of the conscience or personal preference -- ie. non-Biblical mandates.

You really need to study Paul's confrontational approach to the churches in Galatia as they reverted in their walk when they were influenced by and listened to the works-based Judaizers.

Also, in chapter 2 of Galatians, you will benefit from reading Paul's confrontation of Peter regarding his no longer eating pork chops with the Gentiles in Antioch.

Your comparison/contrast of Jesus vs. Paul (in post #44) is apples & oranges in terms of the application of truth. Paul walked according to his Lord's example. Jesus was the supreme example of considering others better than yourself (Phil 2:3-5).

#49  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 12:42 PM

#44 Marc Lambert - Worthy and sincere question. I appreciate that.

#48 John Linak - Respectable mature answer. I appreciate that too.

#50  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 1:29 PM

There is an old Hank Williams Jr song called Family Tradition. One of the stanzas goes like this:

So don't ask me Hank

why do you drink?

(Hank) why do you roll smoke?

Why must you live out the songs you wrote?

Stop and think it over

Try and put yourself in my unique position

If I get stoned and sing all night long

It's a family tradition!

Tradition can be a hard thing to break because often there are memories attached that aren't all that bad. I like traditions. I have a son that is nuts about traditions. Traditions can seem like habits to others but to us are, in fact, traditions.

Having a few beers after work with a family member, especially with Dad and talking over the day and how work went while watching the game at your favorite sports bar is hard to break. "Remember that time we were there and the Cowboys or Packers or Raiders were playing Monday Night Football? Remember that game" What most recall is the time with each other and not really the beer. They go for the relationship. I believe when we think of giving up the beer, our brain associates that with giving up the time, the game, maybe even the relationship. The beer, the pub, the regular table, the game, the talk, the all is part of a sum. And when we think of doing away with any of it, it feels not right. Even changing places or time can feel wrong.

We live in a world of constant change and we desire to hold onto one thing we can count silly little thing. That's why when a man in a group of single guys that meets regularly gets married and doesn't a no show at the Same Place, Same Time Bar, the others get a little freaky. "What's with that? Just cause he gets married, he's does a no show?" Oh, how they hate change. It's as if Mr Newly Married is being immoral and of course, we know he is doing the right thing, staying at home with his bride. So how do we get past that?

I think we have to first acknowledge that it is a tradition that might hold some unfavorable least in part. That's where it starts. This little tradition may be controlling us just a little too much. I wonder how many really support their right to drink in order to not lose some sort of tradition? I actually understand it. If you think about it, almost everyone you know has some sort of tradition. And as a people, we really hold fast to our traditions. If we get emotional about letting them go at all, we even need to consider that perhaps they have now become a god to us?

We have to be intelligent enough to know that new traditions just as satisfying but not compromising can be learned and take the place of the old. It takes a willingness to make the effort. You have to be intentional about it. Using the game metaphor, you might have to pick a whole new place to meet and visit and watch the game. The old place might tempt you and draw you back into old way.

Question: Are some of us confusing the desire for beer or wine with a desire to maintain a tradition?

#51  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 1:43 PM

I think Paul’s concluding admonition in Romans 14 concerning how Christians are to practice their liberty often gets eclipsed .

He concludes his instructions to the “strong” in 14:13-23 with the following command. He tells those who can eat meat and drink wine “in faith,” to “keep that conviction between themselves and God.”

Here’s how that very important command in verse 22 gets eclipsed. People conclude:

A I am able to drink wine in faith—without condemning myself

B I have the God-given freedom to exercise that Christian liberty

C Nobody has the right to judge me for that choice

Although true, those conclusions are incomplete. They miss an important point Paul makes—maybe his most most important point as it concerns this series.

He argues like this: (I’m framing this argument with a modern hypothetical, since Paul’s concern with wine probably stemmed from different cultural concerns than ours)

You want to drink alcohol in moderation? Fine. You claim you’re able to practice that liberty without violating your conscience? Fine. You’re free. In fact, you’re blessed to exercise that liberty without self-condemnation. However, don’t flaunt your freedom. Keep it between yourself and God.

I rarely hear Paul’s admonition steering conversations about Christian liberty in a safe direction. I don’t think it’s a hard interpretation. The application is what steps on our toes. I believe Paul is advocating the safe and appropriate practice of Christian liberty. If we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we’ll take him serious. After all, it is a command.

And as a point of application, I don’t think it’s wise for “strong” Christians who drink alcohol in moderation to broadcast that in a blog post. After all, you never know who may be reading your comments—right? Lots of “weak” Christians frequent their favorite blog sites. Maybe some of them attend your church, or your Bible study. Better to “keep it between yourself and God.” The second you begin your commenet with “I drink alcohol in the privacy of my own home in moderation…” you may have just turned that verse on its head.

Just sayin…

#52  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Oh, Tommy, wished I had said that! Really good. So many good points. It's all about being sensitive to others and never about our rights or bragging about our own abilities. To love one another as Christ loved the church. John 13:34-35. It was a new command! To love sacrificially. John 15:12

#53  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 2:04 PM

Don't ever forget God lays a stumbling block before you. If you stumble over it, it will be the stone that crush you! Don't cause a brother to sin!

That is a Pharisee. Without love, other than for himself.

Look at Revelation 2. Jesus condems eating of meat offered to idols.

Is Paul out of sync with Jesus? No, so the only conclusion must be, that they chose NOT to love their weaker brother, by their "liberty".

How can God have mercy on someone who show no mercy?

#54  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 2:33 PM

#53 Excellent points, Rudi. We can't understand the lesson without looking at the whole story, the context.

Some say abstaining from alcohol is legalistic. No it isn't. Insisting another abstain is legalistic.

Listening to an elder tell you that it is best for you and others to abstain is wisdom.

#55  Posted by Andrew Hampton  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM

I wish MacArthur would have kept to his own flock. Here is a simple truth for those in the holy huddle,

There are two types of people against drinking: Those who have done it improperly and those who have not done it.

I also think it is important to consider which preacher will present the Gospel to the most non-Christian Americans over the next 12 months.

#56  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 3:24 PM

#55 Andrew - You're the perfect person for me to ask. I assume that the persons not against drinking would be those that drink responsibly? So, can you tell me why they drink at all? No one has been able to tell me that.

I don't understand this statement. "I also think it is important to consider which preacher will present the Gospel to the most non-Christian Americans over the next 12 months."

Can you explain what you mean? Thanks!

#57  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:13 PM

#28 Dan

And I disagree with you, your statement doesn't have a Biblical basis. Scripture admonishes moderation, not abstinence, in regards to alcohol usage. Unless one has taken a Nazirite vow, there is no such scripture that commands abstinence, its our beauty of Liberty in Jesus Christ, much to the chagrin of the temperance movement. Plenty of Godly men and women, and even Pastors who responsibly use alcohol. With regards to the article, I do agree that the YRR shouldn't openly promote alcohol usage so freely because so many have a problem using it responsibly.

#58  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 5:41 PM

#26 Darren D.

I am going to keep this simple, because it is almost not even worth addressing your argument.

I don't use illegal drugs, so that is a moot point. In regards to alcohol usage, I follow what God's Word says on the matter, and it isn't confusing. Unfortunately, Men love to twist the Bible, and even add or subtract any content that isn't there, the comments on this Blog is proof of that. Fortunately I know and follow what the Bible has to say on the matter, and not what Man says. Man lies, the Bible does not.

#59  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Praying for you, Rudi. Thanks for sharing. God bless.


In the sciptures says that a pastor is not to drink wine heavly. I am sure some in this blog are trying to help. Will pray for you. God bless.

I read it in the scriptures, show you from 2 Timothy 3:3 about the overseer. Please read the blog.

#60  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 7:07 PM

As I was saying, Chris.. , did you read the blog?? Jesus did'nt say to pastors ok to drink beer or wine.. Sorry, I read post #51 and it makes sense. God bless. If I was a drunkard, I won't enter heaven.

#61  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Again, I don't know what Bible you read Dan, but scripture does admonish Pastors to not be drunkards, that much is true. But I must have missed the verse saying that Pastors are absolutely not to drink whatsoever, care to bring up the verse that commands abstinence?

#62  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 7:56 PM

Just to clarify, I agree with the Blog post, I agree with Pastor John Macarthur that YRR Pastors shouldn't wear drinking as a badge to promote. Where my disagreement is with others is that the Bible does not prohibit abstinence nor usage, but moderation, discernment, temperance, and if alcohol can't be used responsibly by the person, then it is wisdom for them to not drink.

#63  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:03 PM


I like your posts, for it's so positive. God bless.

#64  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:09 PM

#62 Chris Lemi - Will you do me a favor? I have asked this several times now here and on other threads and I can't get an answer. Maybe you will be able to tell me.

Why do responsible drinkers drink at all? What is it all about? What am I missing?

#66  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 8:46 PM

Rebecca, why do you like to eat a nice meal, or watch the sun rise, or play sports...

#67  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 7:51 AM

#66 Chris Lemi - In my pre Christian days, I drank a glass of wine here and there. Each time my blood sugar dropped and all I wanted to do was sleep. So even before being a Christian, I and my husband failed to see what the Brouhaha was all about?

So in what ways are you equating the pleasures of alcohol with a nice meal, a sunrise and sports? Can you be a more specific in helping some of us understand what and how it is pleasurable?

A good meal should not just be tasty but nutritious as well. Sports satisfy competitive people and physical people alike. A sunrise......ah, a sunrise, for me, displays God's glory. So alcohol satisfies the drinker that it is tasty and nutritious as well as encourages physical activity and lastly, it glorifies God? Or it might help me better see God's glory?

I'm really wanting a direct answer. What does the drinker get out of it? And if the drinker chose to no longer drink, how might the quality of his life be affected? If I ate nothing but whole foods chocked full of nutrients, I would get stronger not weaker. Add more exercise and my whole physiology changes...for the better. My immune system, my digestive system, my thought process changes, I'm more alert, my heart strengthens and my bad cholesterol goes down and the good goes up and on and on.

Do drinkers agree with the following statement? That alcohol is highly addictive? That alcohol has a very destructive history? That the alcohol industry, just like the tobacco industry, benefits hugely because these products are addictive? Do drinkers believe that the alcohol industry has a dog in this fight? And if they believe all the above, will they conclude that across the board, alcohol has fewer benefits than dangers? In fact, will they go so far as to admit that the dangers far outweigh the benefits? Will they conceded to that?

If I can't get a more direct answer than this, I'm dropping the question and assuming that no drinker wants to respond for reasons they can't explain. I come on strong. I know that. But I don't think I have thrown anything out there that hasn't already been documented for years. I expect anyone pro alcohol to be able to reverse such documentation rather than give a non answer that I am simply self righteous or legalistic. This is not just about the right to drink, the freedom to drink. It's a little more complex than that. It's about the freedom to drink something that has all the earmarks of poison and addiction that can lead to anything but glorifying God. In my opinion, I think it's tweaking the scriptures for the drinkers benefit. The pro drinker is willfully ignoring scriptural context and history of biblical wine and the wealth of information about today's alcoholic beverages and all the research that JM has thoughtfully done for me.

By the way, have you ever heard the saying, "have a conversation with someone that is drinking and you're talking to the alcohol, not the person."?

#68  Posted by Jeremy Ireland  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 10:51 AM

I probably shouldn't be sucked into responding here because it seems that everyone (myself included) has made up their minds, which will not be changed by what I say.

I think Chris Lemi fairly answered the question about why people drink, but I'll try to spell out my views a bit as well. I drink alcohol for the same reason I drink lemonade or root beer - because I enjoy it. Alcohol also has an added benefit of having (in moderation) health benefits, but this is not why I make a decision to drink alcohol. I decide, for example, to have a beer on a hot Saturday afternoon because I think it would taste good and cool me down. Sometimes I think lemonade would be better, so I choose that instead.

I generally agree that alcohol can be addictive to some people, although I don't know that I would call it "highly addictive." Most of the people I know who drink alcohol are not alcoholics. I recognize that alcohol causes problems for some people and that there are people who are addicted to alcohol, and this can be a good reason to decide not to drink. No doubt the alcohol industry has made money from people who are addicted, and has caused problems for people. That said, without digging much deeper, I don't know that we can really say whether the benefits outweigh the dangers or vice versa. I think we would have to consider far too many factors (e.g., health benefits, health detriments, harm caused to self or others by drinking, enjoyment received from drinking, etc.) to be able to really make any kind of definitive conclusion.

Finally,I'm not convinced that wine in the Bible was weaker than what we drink today (there seem to be people on both sides of this issue who are smarter than I am). But, assuming, for the sake of argument, that this view is accurate, what does it prove? Apparently drinking alcohol is still OK under this interpretation, it just becomes an issue of drawing the line at percent of alcohol by volume of each drink. I can still drink wine as long as I add water first?

#69  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#70  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 12:06 PM

#68 Jeremy Ireland - Thank you for being so thorough in my most serious questions. I really appreciate the thought you put into it. I have a few questions & you can tell me if you believe your previous comments are representative of others that choose to drink in moderation.

"I generally agree that alcohol can be addictive to some people, although I don't know that I would call it "highly addictive." Most of the people I know who drink alcohol are not alcoholics. I recognize that alcohol causes problems for some people & that there are people who are addicted to alcohol, & this can be a good reason to decide not to drink. No doubt the alcohol industry has made money from people who are addicted, & has caused problems for people. That said, without digging much deeper, I don't know that we can really say whether the benefits outweigh the dangers or vice versa. I think we would have to consider far too many factors (e.g., health benefits, health detriments, harm caused to self or others by drinking, enjoyment received from drinking, etc.) to be able to really make any kind of definitive conclusion."

So is it fair to say that the moderate drinkers, maybe most especially the younger generation, are not convinced of the studies done on alcohol? That it is to say, they believe the rest of us are over reacting and perhaps it is conservatives that have been on a campaign to unfairly discredit alcohol more than the alcohol industry has been on a self-serving campaign marketing it to the youth, marketing it as sex appeal and marketing it's appeal and use by very influential, successful people? Is that a fair statement?

And is it a fair statement to say that many YRR's that drink alcohol do believe not only that the content of the research is faulty but that there simply is not enough data, enough research that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is highly addictive and of epidemic proportions?

So is it a fair statement to say that the YRR's believe that the alarm, the warning against alcohol has sounded prematurely? This country is in it's infancy stage and it's too soon to know the effects of an alcohol drinking culture?

"I can still drink wine as long as I add water first?" With your Christian liberty, you can do whatever you want. But if you're asking my opinion, if you must drink, yes, I'd water it down at least 3 to 1. But I wouldn't take that to mean you can drink yourself silly and still glorify God.

By the way, have you ever heard of a high functioning alcoholic? Most have the ability to provide their families with a very nice standard of living. They pay their bills and keep the grass mowed. They don't wreck their cars. They don't fall down. They don't miss work. The down side is their children usually reveal that when dad or mom was at home, whomever is the alcoholic, he/she was usually checked out. Not much depth to his/her personal relationships. They tell you that most discussions with such a parent are superficial at best.

#71  Posted by Jeremy Ireland  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

I really don't know if my comments are representative of others who choose to drink in moderation. It's not something I've discussed with other people. For that reason, I can't speak for anyone else, let alone a group of people who I don't know.

For me, however, I am not familiar with the details of studies done on alcohol. I know only the headlines and blurbs I've come across and the anecdotal evidence from people I know who drink. I recognize that there are studies describing the dangers of excessive alcohol use, but I don't think that this proves that drinking alcohol in moderation is a problem. To the extent that people use the dangers of irresponsible alcohol use to argue that drinking in moderation should be avoided, I do think that this is overreaction. On the other hand, I agree that alcohol companies (and clothing companies and soft drink companies and car companies, etc., etc. etc.) have self-serving marketing campaigns using all manner of persuasion to target young and old alike. I don't think that these marketing campaigns make the products (alcohol or otherwise) any better or worse to consume (they may make me think twice about which specific companies I'm supporting, though I think this is a different issue altogether).

As to the amount of data available, I assume it is scientifically proven that alcohol is addictive. Again, I haven't looked at the studies. I just know that most people I know who drink alcohol are not addicted. Without doing any real research, I would guess that it is a very low percentage of people who have consumed alcohol who are addicted to it. I recognize that there are high functioning alcoholics, but there are also many people who drink in moderation who are not addicted to alcohol.

I would argue not that the alarm against alcohol has sounded prematurely, but that it has sounded against the wrong thing. To the extent that the alarm is against drinking to excess or otherwise abusing alcohol, I think it is perfectly appropriate and there is evidence to support this alarm (Biblically, historically, culturally, and scientifically). To the extent the alarm is against alcohol at all, I don't think there's evidence to support it, and people in all cultures have been drinking alcohol for thousands of years, yet I am not aware of any indication that alcohol in moderation is a problem.

Finally, I agree that regardless of the alcohol content of a drink, you cannot drink it to excess and glorify God. I only meant to say by my last paragraph that I don't see the purpose of arguing over whether wine was diluted or not in the Bible. In either case, the examples are still to drinking alcohol and the only change is how strong it is.

#72  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

#71 Jeremy Ireland - Good enough, young man. I appreciate your willingness to have this dialogue with me. We'll just have to wait and see who is willing to say your opinion does or does not represent YRR's. Wait, I think they have voted. I think the majority agrees with you. You just said it nicer.

~Thanks again

#73  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Rebecca, whats it to you whether a Christian drinks or not? I mean really.. the tone of your posts are accusatory and condemning, far more Roman Catholic than Christian, very much more Pharisee like rather than a woman who truly knows the Lord Jesus Christ. You paint everyone who drinks as an automatic Alcoholic! (facepalm) I mean really, if you ever read the entire Bible, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees much more severely than he ever did drunkards. Pharisee like self righteousness is far worse than alcoholism, people can recover from alcoholism a lot faster than they can from being a professed Christian who only knows "religion".

#74  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Thank you, Rebecca for your great posts. I am glad to read them. God bless.

#75  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:24 PM


Only God knows our hearts and mind.


#76  Posted by Darren D.  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:43 PM

First off....thank you Rebecca Schwen for your great posts and wonderful insight, scripture references and logic behind what you write. You are truly a Blessing and a breath of FRESH air in an area that smells more and more like a brewery these days. Don't back down...and STAND FIRM. It seems nowadays that to oppose the use of Alcohol in any form is like trying to stop a Semi-Truck bearing down on you.

@Chris Lemi (#73)


"Rebecca, what's it to you whether a Christian drinks or not? I mean really"

>>Chris...its actually a GREAT question. As a Christian I'd think you'd want to be absolutely sure...1000% that you are doing something that is in the Will of our Lord and Savior" We are told to go to our brother and sisters if we see them doing something that is not Christ like and talk to them, reason with them and present scriptures. That is all Rebecca is doing. You should actually be happy she's doing that and doing it in Love and HIS name.

I do not SEE say that she is accusatory and condemning. Haven't seen that AT all. Sometimes when trying to reason and give an opposing view...people tend to perceive that as being aggressive or accusatory and attacking. From my vantage...she's been as gentle and respectful as possible.


"Jesus rebuked the Pharisees much more severely than he ever did drunkards."

>>Actually it was not more severe......the Word of the Lord actually says in 1 Cor 6:9-11 That Drunkards will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. That's about as severe as you can get my friend!

How can you NOT see the terrible results that Alcohol and the Alcohol industry has brought upon our country, the people and this world? I for one... don't Want a watered down Christianity no more then all the Beer swigging, Wine guzzling, whiskey loving Christians want their alcohol watered down. I Personally WANT to get DRUNK on the PURE, 100 proof, supernatural DRUG of the HOLY SPIRIT and nothing else. Anybody in???? Why mix that kind of HIGH with the inferior drug, mind altering, intoxicating Drink of Alcohol???

Why anyone would mess with that stuff I will never understand!!! The total Blight it has brought to humans and society is comparable to no other DRUG on the planet. Certainly ALL the illegal drugs put together. There really is NO Defense for that DRUG.

#77  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 4:55 PM

#73 Chris Lemi - I am interested in what people think. I'm a tell me why, tell me how, tell me when, give me examples kind of gal. I have always been fascinated with others. I am interested in how their thinking has shaped their views and less interested in what they think about me. Just naturally curious, I guess. Some like that I am interested in them. They like an opportunity to express their views and they know if you ask questions, you must be really interested and willing to listen. Most aren't threatened by the questions which is good cause I learn a lot from others. Like right now, while you were exercising your Christian liberty and freedom with your last comment, I learned a lot about you.

# 74 Dan Wilson - Thank you, Dan. You are always such a gentleman.

#78  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:18 PM

#76 - Darren - Thanks for having my back. I don't take such things personally. When someone else's integrity is question like John Mac Arthur, then I might get a wee bit riled up!

Sometimes a truth hits a nerve...just like this article. It's even good sometimes that some get angry at what I have written. It means they are being stirred. I always say, better to be fired up than lukewarm. Better that he get involved than avoid the topic as if it is something to be avoided. Besides, a critical eye strengthens me. It stretches me. Romans 5:3, James 1:2

I know to whom I belong.Romans 8:15

#79  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Thanks and the Lord is good! Amen..

#80  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:32 PM


That's right, the Bible condemns "drunkards", not people who have an occasional drink of wine. Your standards simply are NOT in scripture. Were you formerly Alcoholic? If so, I can understand your hostility towards alcohol, but fortunately, many people do not share your alcoholism (if you were alcoholic). So, I have no problem with condemning alcoholism, but that simply doesn't apply to the many Christians out there who do exercise their liberty in Christ.

#81  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I don't mean any disrespect to anyone, my point of contention is with people who add/subtract, what is not/what is in the Bible.

#82  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:51 PM

Darren, I don't believe in getting "drunk in the Spirit". You must be Charismatic/Pentecostal. And as for what I am sure about in Scripture, I am completely sure about what Scripture says about alcohol usage, it isn't prohibited, but drunkenness is. Alcoholism is horrible, yes. But so are so many other addictions, ie. gambling, shopping, eating..

#83  Posted by Darren D.  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Hi Chris (#82)

My statement and point with getting "drunk in the Spirit" , is that I was attempting to try and reason with you and all that support the drinking of alcohol in the name of "Liberty in Christ" to understand that to be FILLED INSTEAD with the HOLY SPIRIT as we are instructed to do. The Holy Spirit is 1 BILLION times a Billion times more fulfilling then a BEER or glass of WINE could EVER help take the tension off, to relax, to wind down, to feel comfortable and on and on. YOU do know and understand that is why people LIKE to drink alcoholic beverages right??.....for the feeling that the DRUG gives back? The Buzz? The HIGH? I mean; otherwise if NOT......the drinkers would just seek out any of the MILLIONS of other non alcoholic drinks available. Once again.....ITS a Drug, that's the purpose of using a drug recreationally and socially! And for the record I'm not Pentecostal...I'm a Born Again Christian and follower of the Savior Jesus Christ.

If being able to DRINK and do DRUGS (You do know that alcohol is a DRUG.....right?);...... is my right as a "Liberty in Christ".....Then I DON'T want that liberty. It Seems like Christians today and with this new movement among the Young up and coming preachers and youth today, want to do whatever they want. To do whatever sin they desire by minimizing it in the name of FREEDOM and Christian Liberty (that's right.....You will hear them saying and writting......."EVERYTHING is PERMISSABLE with our NEW FREEDOM" And when scriptures and reason and logic don't work for them; they are explained away by perverting the scriptures, and then of course.....there's always the "LIBERTY and FREEDOM in Christ FLAG that they throw out.

The mantra is always the same.... "As long as its done in moderation, a clear coconscious and of long as you don't make a brother stumble! Of course there is a work around for not wanting to make your "bother stumbling " One must then just do it in the PRIVACY where its between you and your God" All I have to say about that is Poppycock! That is just plane ridiculous and is actually leading people and the Youth of America (both Christian and the non Christian youth); away from a HOLY, PURE and righteous Lord and Savior.

Liquor // Alcohol has a trail of destruction that is DEADLY. Its highly Destructive and has a Stench that follows it wherever it goes. I'm not an alcoholic, (mainly because I don't drink....guess what? I never will be). But of course (like so many others and I'd venture to say...... EVERYONE!); can look into their families and friends that you are in contact with and recount how one way or another Alcohol has affected mine and their lives in a NEGATIVE and DESTRUCTIVE way. Kind of HIGH odds for something that so many want to down play its effects and side with the alcohol industry. Why in OUR Sweet God's NAME would anyone want to support THAT industry in any way.... is to me JUST mind boggling.

#85  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:26 PM

Darren... sigh. You simply aren't thinking Biblically, but EMOTIONALLY. Alcohol alone doesn't kill anyone, it is how they use it. Actions have consequences, and irresponsible actions have negative consequences.

Your emotional rant doesn't bring up anything new that we haven't heard already, and there are thousands of responsible, Godly Men and Women of God that would disagree with your view of alcohol. Its as terrible as the people who choose to use it irresponsibly, much like driving a car or a motorcycle.

You're a legalist happy in his legalism, but you don't have any Biblical backing, or any rational arguments, just Emotionalism.

#86  Posted by Darren D.  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:29 PM

@Chris #81 >

"I don't mean any disrespect to anyone, my point of contention is with people who add/subtract, what is not/what is in the Bible."

No disrespect taken..I understand and agree we should not add or subtract from the bible and Gods Word.

My only contention is that I believe like John MacArthur , David Wilkerson, Jerry Vines, Billy Sunday and many other great men of God that the Wine that Jesus and his followers drank was only alcoholic to the point that it almost negligible. Mostly done for the sake of the water they drank. But YES, to drink for the taste also; for the WINE, that is the (new Wine), freshly squeezed, or reconstituted with water from a syrup or paste that came from boiling the WINE so that it would NOT ferment and become rotten and alcoholic. And of course.....the foundation for all christian drinking and excuse to party with alcohol.......the Miracle at Cana. There can be NO DOUBT that Jesus made the VERY Best Wine (NEW WINE-grape juice)...the FRESHEST best ever made. And the best thing about it is that it was NON-Alcoholic!! Jesus would never tempt us, after the people had been drinking all day..come on folks!!

#87  Posted by Chris Lemi  |  Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 9:43 PM

Show me the verse in the Bible where it clearly prohibits drinking of any sort for the Christian Darren.

The Bible has verses that praise wine, and condemn drunkenness. Is God the Author of confusion, because he has both kinds of verses in the Bible. It isn't confusing to me, but people want to make it confusing by their own accord.

There simply is no Biblical mandate for abstention of alcohol, (unless you're a Nazirite).

As for alcohol ruining lives, no it doesn't. IRRESPONSIBLE Alcohol usage ruins lives. You have to use alcohol irresponsibly for that to happen.

#88  Posted by Erin L.  |  Friday, August 19, 2011 at 9:25 AM

I'd like to add a little personal experience if it might help someone reading the comments and discussions concerning this blog. I was raised a teetotaler in a Christian home, I never touched alcohol until well past my college years but once I discovered it's "miraculous" ability to lower my inhibitions and help me socially interact, I was hooked. It works wonders on depression as well, which I was always prone to. One drink is all it takes, the first bit of alcohol reaching the bloodstream will begin it's effects on the human brain and your defenses will be lowered. You will loosen up, mentally, emotionally, and physically. So why stop there? Pour the next one and the effect becomes intensified. Then do what I did, hang out in a bar and have a co-worker see you. Said co-worker who is probably not a Christian then whispered to another co-worker that I was hanging out with, "I thought she was a good Christian?" My heart sank. I immediately remembered the words of Paul in Romans 14, "Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble." Even this did not stop me, the pull of the alcohol and the effects it produced were very powerful. It has taken me to depths that I could never have imagined. Is the alcohol to blame? No. I am. I know it is wrong to drink but the temptation is so great because of the power it has to affect my emotions. The flesh is very weak, Satan knows this and he often uses alcohol and other drugs (yes, alcohol is a drug and it is sometimes a gateway drug to even worse things) to help you fall into sin, sometimes grievous sin. My witness is ruined and I feel like a fraud. How could I do this to my Lord and Savior? I wake up in the morning after a night of drinking, in misery with guilt and conviction as I beg God to forgive me, hoping I won't drink again but knowing I probably will, all the while doubting my salvation. The unsaved world is always watching us, those of us who profess to belong to Christ. The elect are always watching as well. Should we be the cause of their stumbling? We can argue whether wine in Jesus' day was the same as wine today but does it really matter? Does it matter to you who are Christians if a new believer in Christ sees you with a beer in your hand? Perhaps someone who is not a believer sees you with that glass of wine in a bar, is their immediate thought, "wow, there's a follower of Christ"? Perhaps it's better to hide it at home and drink there, like I do? You still have to buy it at the store and how often do your neighbors and co-workers run into you at the check-out line? I wish I had never taken the first drink. I pray the Holy Spirit will give me His strength to overcome the flesh. I pray my neighbors and co-workers won't stumble because of my sin.