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John 2 #3: The Preponderance of Evidence

Driving to a Galveston Bay restaurant for dinner one evening, Janie and I decided to take a chance (not!).  By the emaciated look of the few hacking patrons, meth and day-old fish was on the menu.  Then we saw the cook!  Resembling a Wookie in a nasty apron, he did not appear to have recently washed (anything).

Run-down outside and impossibly worse inside, the place lacked even charm.  Descriptions like dirty, dreary, dingy, smoky, sticky, and stinky add up to a preponderance of evidence.  They are not YELP! compliments. 

So we decided to stay away.

Can you blame us?

The John 2 Battleground

Ignoring the common sense of preponderance-of-evidence thinking, John 2 has become a port in the storm for brethren who are in favor of green-light drinking.  Their sophisticated "Moderation in All Things" sounds suspiciously like "Roll Out the Barrel."  They suspiciously see Jesus serving hard drinks to a party-hard crew at the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee. 

"But what about all those other passages?"  asked a recent convert when told that some members of the Churches of Christ find reason to drink (and drink, and drink) in John 2:1-11.  Sweetly innocent but perhaps spot on, she was simply restating as a question the "Preponderance of Evidence" argument in favor of very temperate caution in the use of alcohol.  She thinks that Christian behavior should reflect the Bible-wide bias against drinking.     

(Some of) The Preponderance of Evidence Against Alcohol

  • Noah made a fool out of himself in the Bible's first reference to drinking (Gen. 9:21) as did sinful Lot (Gen. 9:30-36).
  • In the Old Testament's legal books, God commanded priests not to drink so that they could tell the difference between the holy and the unholy (Lev. 10:9-11), and intoxicating wine was used as a figure of speech for "poison" influence (Deut. 32:33).
  • As recorder in the Old Testament's historical books, Nabal died drunk (I Sam. 25:32-38), as did Amnon  (II Sam. 13:28-29), Elah (I Kgs. 16:8-10) and Ben-Hadad and 32 other kings (I Ksg. 20:12-31). 
  • All of these warnings by example are nothing compared to the starker warnings of the Old Testament poets.  "Wine is a mocker; 'beer' (NIV) is raging, and whoever is fooled by them is not wise" (Prov. 20:1).  Alcohol causes poverty (Prov. 23:21) and also causes woe, sorrow, and etc. (Prov. 23:29-30).  Intoxicating drinks bite like a serpent, sting like an adder, and then their effects get worse (Prov. 23:31-35).    It is not for leaders to drink wine, and not for leaders to crave beer (Prov. 31:4).
  • "Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding" (Hos. 4:11).  Among other interesting pieces of preponderant prophetic evidence is Micah 2:11 in which God mocked Israel saying, "If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' that would be just the prophet for this people."  Restated in contemporary language Micah 2:11 becomes, "If a preacher today encouraged plenty of drinking, many church goers would say - 'That's the preacher for us.'"
  • Jesus warned against drunkenness (Lk. 12:45) and described drinking servants as unprepared for His return (Mt. 24:48-51).
  • The rest of the New Testament teaches Christians to "behave decently...not in carousing and drunkenness (Rom. 13:13) and not to associate with a brother whose life is characterized by drinking (I Cor. 5:11) because heavy drinkers will not inherit the Kingdom (I Cor. 6:9-11).  Drunkenness is sinful behavior (Gal. 5:21) that is contrary to spiritual behavior (Eph. 5:18).  The past life of drunkenness and carousing has no place in the new life (I Pet. 4:3-4).

Conclusion

But pro-drinking brethren ask, "What about Psalm 104:15, "Wine gladdens hearts?" (see also Judges 9:13).  It is to be acknowledged that this passage and the passages that focus primarily on drunkenness prevent the occasional glass of this or that from being classified as sin.  But do these isolated references add up to a preponderance of evidence?  Do these limited references condone more than yellow-light moderation?

On the preponderance of biblical evidence and on the equally preponderant social evidence, many brethren have decided to stay away from drinking.

Can you blame them?