This post is for a Biblical response to an article written by Jamie Morgan on the Charisma News website. Jamie Morgan is a woman lead pastor for the Assemblies of God, Life Church in Williamstown, NJ. The article linked above was posted on Dec 29th, 2015. My intention with writing this article is not to become an apologist for a drinking Christian community but for the purpose of addressing some of the blatantly unBiblical and logical errors that occur in this article. Another point that I want to make clear from the outset is that I have no problem at all with any Christian that has a personal conviction of abstinence when it comes to drinking. I would encourage them in their conviction of this whether they had a personal history of alcohol abuse or not. This is a Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16 issue, let each be convinced in his own mind.
My concern is with the complete lack of discernment that I see with Christians sharing this article all over social media. According to the article itself at the time of the writing of this post it has been shared 630,000 times. There seems to be zero recognition by many who should know better that the first concern would be that the author is a woman pastor. The Bible is abundantly clear on whether woman should be in the position of pastoring a church (1 Tim 2:12-14, 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 3:12, Tit 1:6). I am not going to go into a long treatise on this topic but the Bible is so clear on this subject it does not require much dialogue. For more on women as pastors and elders read the CARM article linked here: (https://carm.org/should-women-be-pastors-and-elders). I am not going to just dismiss the entire article because it was written by a woman pastor that would be a genetic fallacy but I will deal with her points and arguments.
The first thing that should be recognized by discerning Christians when reading any article written by a woman pastor is the author will likely have little respect for the Word of God and will be basing most arguments on pragmatic experience and an arbitrarily assumed morality instead of a clear exegesis of the text of Scripture. This can be seen in this article from the outset when Jamie states “This article is not a theological defense on the topic of Christians and alcohol (another article for another time), but it is a heartfelt plea.” Notice that Jamie is being directly upfront that in her first published article on the subject that she does not began with the Word of God but starts instead with a heartfelt plea. Her authority is not God and His Word (that is something she says she might do later) but this is what she believes in her heart. Our convictions should always begin with the Word of God instead of the heart. Jamie seems to have the cart before the horse by starting with her heart and hence the conspicuous absence of a single Bible verse in the article. Now if this was simply Jamie’s personal conviction that for her drinking was not an option and her desire was for others to see her concerns then I would have no issue with this article. The problem is that Jamie makes repeated declarative statements that imply that Christians that drink are contradicting the Bible, hindering their walk with God, tarnishing their testimony, are not sober minded, are sending the message Jesus is not enough, etc. etc.
Jamie says that the article is not a theological defense about Christians and alcohol but then continues on to make about 50 theological statements about Christians and alcohol. She would have been more accurate in stating that this article is not a “Biblical” defense about Christians and alcohol. I would definitely concur with that. The statement smacks of someone saying “I am not going to say anything about what automobile you should buy but you’re stupid if you don’t buy a Ford.”
The most fundamental error the author is making in the article is that she equates any drinking at all to drunkenness. She does not make any distinction that the Bible itself makes between drinking and drunkenness. She assumes that to have any drink at all results in a person not being sober minded. The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a gross sin and that no Christian should ever go to that state (Rom 13:13, Gal 5:21). Paul encourages Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to have a little wine to help him with his stomach ailments, deacons are instructed to not be addicted to “much” wine (1 Tim 3:8). Jesus himself drank sour wine on the cross (Jn 19:30, Lk 23:36, Mr 15:36). Jesus used wine at the last supper (Mr 14:23-25, Mt 26:27-29). In Lk 7:33-34 Jesus contrasts himself with John the Baptist who under a Nazarite vow (Nu 6:1-4) did not drink wine but Jesus says that he did drink wine. In Lk 7:34 Jesus says the Pharisees were accusing him of being a drunkard; they could not have made the accusation had Jesus not drank wine at all. In the context we see that Jesus says that John the Baptist did not drink wine but that he himself did. In his first recorded miracle Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (Jn 2:10-11). Jesus drank wine but as the perfectly sinless man (Heb 4:15) he was never drunk. In Jesus himself we see the distinction between drinking wine and drunkenness. The author assumes that any use of alcohol is drunkenness, this is the same error as to assume that any eating is gluttony. Gluttony is a sin but eating in moderation to provide sustenance for oneself is not gluttony.
Jamie says in the article before she gets to her 50 reasons “You have come too late to tell me it’s God’s best for a Christian to drink.” Who exactly is saying that it is God’s best for a Christian to drink? Eating pork is not a sin but I would never say it is God’s best for us to eat pork. What does this even mean?
In reason 42, Jamie say “Moderate drinking? How about moderate pornography or moderate heroin use or moderate lying or moderate adultery?” My response would be “category error much?” See what she did there, she placed moderate drinking into the category of the sin of drunkenness with no justification for the category conflation. In doing this she made Jesus, himself a sinner. Jesus drank in moderation so was he also engaging in a sin in the same category as moderate porn and heroin use? Was Paul encouraging Timothy to engage in a sin equal to moderate lying and adultery? Was Paul saying that someone could be qualified as a deacon as long as he was only a moderate viewer of pornography; as long as he did not engage in “much” pornography?
In reason 7, Jamie states “What I do in moderation, my children will do in excess.” Prove it, what justification can you provide that this statement is true? I know many fine Christians that drink in moderation and their children do not drink in excess.
I am going to refrain from addressing any more of the points but most are begging the question by assuming that any drinking at all is drunkenness. Jamie does make a few points that we should take into consideration with this topic however shouldn’t we be getting our instruction from teachers that are more sound in the Word of God? We as Christians should approach this topic sincerely and with an open heart to what God has for us as an individual and be willing to change our habits if God so presses it upon our hearts. We should however refrain from passing judgement upon others or accepting judgement from others when it comes to food or drink (Col 2:16). Good solid Christian teachers can Biblically make a case for why Christians should consider refraining from drinking but this article is not one of them. My prayer is that Christians would become more discerning when it comes to the sophistry and drivel that is coming out of the world of evangelical Christianity today and examine it and hold it up to the mirror of the unchanging and ever true Word of God.