Teetotaling

prohibitionThe fundamentalist world was rocked recently when a scholar from a prestigious fundamentalist university opined in a book that maybe people in the Bible really did drink fermented wine after all. Now from all reports he still wasn’t advocating that people are allowed to drink in moderation today — after all, baptists do follow in the holiness tradition of being total abstainers when it comes to alcohol — but even this slight allowance has caused the likes of the Sword of the Lord to spill barrels of ink denouncing the scholar, the university, the book, and all their friends, relations, chattels, and livestock.

Regardless of the fact that history shows total abstinence from alcohol has been held mainly by heretics and some sects of Roman Catholic monks, fundies embrace it as dogma to the point of  writing it into their church constitutions and/or church covenants.

If we are to take the rule that no alcohol may ever pass ones lips literally, however, there are a few points which may need some clarification.

– How long may one gargle with Listerine® (26.9% alcohol) without sin?
– If one uses hand sanitizer and then proceeds to licks their fingers, is this too a matter for church discipline?
– Is taking NyQuil (25%), Ambesol(70%), Formula 44D(20%), or Contrex (20%) a transgression? And if it’s ok to take those, is it also ok to sip a few teaspoons of whiskey (50% alcohol) as long as you’ve got a cold?

First medicinal wine from a teaspoon then beer from a bottle. Oh, we got trouble…

59 thoughts on “Teetotaling”

  1. “Regardless of the fact that history shows total abstinence from alcohol has been held mainly by heretics and Roman Catholic monks, fundies embrace it as dogma to the point of writing it into their church constitutions.”

    Ha!

    “baptists do follow in the holiness tradition of being total abstainers when it comes to alcohol”

    Baptists of the Reformed persuasion tend to be the exception to this rule. Granted, they’re typically not IFBs either…

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that this post will get some rather, uh, interesting, comments.

  2. Here, let me get this out of the way. Ahem (clears throat)

    Why, you no good liberal heretic!! You’re just trying to lead others down a life of sin, you and your namby-pamby, liquor licking, alcohell drinking, booze binging friends.

    (How’d I do? 🙂 )

  3. imo the prohibition rule in IFBism came about because they refused to dump an archaic law in the church covenant that was valid only during Prohibition (to honor the authorities).

    Remembered in my previous IFB church someone said, “is there any NON-alcoholic tiramisu?” He emphasized the word NON as he spoke.

  4. Oh btw, many Roman Catholic monks don’t abstain from alcohol – they even make it! The Trappist monks for example make good quality beer. So I guess that leaves only the cults plus the fundies who ENFORCE abstinence… nothing wrong with personal abstinence but something is, when you make that a requirement for membership.

  5. the prohibition rule in IFBism came about because they refused to dump an archaic law in the church covenant that was valid only during Prohibition (to honor the authorities).

    This doesn’t account for the rule existing in church constitutions or covenants written well after Prohibition had ended.

  6. No “amen”s, no “bless God”s, and no caps lock to indicate shouting. Pretty poor, I’d say. Work on your delivery. 😀

    Doh! Good pint, I mean point.

  7. I tracked down the discussion Darrell’s referring to here: http://www.sharperiron.org/forum/thread-sword-of-lord-blasts-new-bju-press-book-alcohol. Interesting reading…

    I actually have story of a “conversion” to moderate enjoyment of alcholic drinks. I’ve posted a few big posts, with big discussions in the commetns on this very subject:

    “Wine to Gladden the Heart of Man”: Thoughts on God’s Good Gift of Wine

    Welch’s Grape Juice, Worldly Wisdom and Wine

    Will You Be Having Some Wine? (which shares my conversion story)

    Interesting post, and amazing picture!

    In Christ,

    Bob Hayton

  8. So what would they say about Jesus turning water into wine? Eating and drinking with sinners? Paul’s adminition to Timothy to drink a little wine?

    Ignorance run amuck. Gosh, no wonder people think fundies are legalistic Pharisees.

    1. They teach that the word translated “wine” means unfermented juice. I sat in a Baptist Bible College class where the professor (held a masters or a doctorate in Psychology and a doctorate in theology and doctorate in Greek not sure about Hebrew but he probably had a masters in that too) took an entire class period to demonstrate through scripture how wine, in the bible, meant juice, unless it was bad-mouthing it then it meant wine (like in proverbs). 😳

  9. I have said that you have not left Fundamentalism until you have had your first beer.

    The question to pose to all KJVO, AV1611 advocates is “Where in the Bible does it prohibit the use of recreational drugs?” Is it near the passage that says God sends “wine that maketh glad the heart of man”?

    To date the best book I have read is G.I. Williamson’s Wine in the Bible and the Church. But what do you expect, Williamson is a Presbyterian. By the way, anyone have a light?

  10. Randy, I’ll second that one! It took me nearly two years after I had left fundamentalism before I could even walk down that aisle of the grocery store, never mind actually buy and drink the stuff! And that was long after I’d theologically came to the place where I saw it, not as a sin, but as a gift of God to be enjoyed in moderation! Of all my post-fundy theological and preferential hang-ups, this was probably my hardest to get over (and this tends to be pretty common for ex-fundies), but when I did, I knew that my leaving fundamentalism was finally official.

  11. “Is it near the passage that says God sends “wine that maketh glad the heart of man”?”

    Perhaps it’s somewhere near Deuteronomy 14:26, “and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”

  12. “you have not left Fundamentalism until you have had your first beer.”

    Curious. I don’t drink but I’m virtually Catholic now. Somehow I doubt the fundies would have me back.

    Speaking of Catholicism, buggy’s right–it was also Franciscan monks who invented, albeit by accident, champagne. Some orders actually had a bad reputation during the Middle Ages as hopeless drunks–that’s where the legendary Friar Tuck comes from.

  13. I don’t know. . .i’ve always hesitated to use the Nyquil and hand sanitizer for this very reason! I want to be sure to “abstain from all appearance of evil”, just like I always heard preached growing up. 😉

  14. So am i sinning by gargling with Listerine every night? haha
    This article is actually almost irrelevant to me…because i’m underage. Too bad for me! Oh well. Still a good post. I’ve actually come to this “knowledge” thanks to my sister (see above).
    Just try not to chug the Nyquil before the next post… 🙂

  15. Seems like this site and others as mentioned in previous posts is promoting drinking by Christians. I thought I world add a few statistics to “Sober” things up. I know you will say; “just a little wine or beer won’t hurt”. How many others have said this and have ended up as one of the statistics below?

    Alcohol-related crashes kill every 22 minutes. One of every 50 drivers is drunk. This number increases to one out of 10 on weekend nights.

    According to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, there are 105,000 annual alcohol-related deaths due to drunk drivers and related injuries or diseases.

    Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of deaths among young people.

    The damage caused by alcohol impaired drivers compares to a Boeing 747 with more than 500 passengers crashing every eight days killing everyone on board.

    Drunk drivers are responsible for 50% of highway fatalities.

  16. I believe drowsy driving and driving w/ cell phones cause quite a few car crashes also. Perhaps churches should add a clause in the constitution making it a sin to own a cell-phone (after all, new technology may be of the devil anyway) or to be tired.

    Point being, anything can be misused or taken to an extreme. I don’t think the arguments here were in favor of out-and-out drunkenness. One can consume and enjoy alcohol in moderation in one’s home without being a raging drunk. LOL.

  17. “Seems like this site and others as mentioned in previous posts is promoting drinking by Christians. “

    I love how your mind works. If I point out the silliness of someone’s position on drink then I am “promoting drinking” Oy vey.

    Here’s a bit of disclosure: I’m in the strange position of being a teetotaler who has no interest in enforcing that stance on anybody else. Let each person be convinced in his own mind.

    Drinking was never part of the tradition of my upbringing. Further, there’s nothing in my life that I’m missing that i feel like it would provide me. So I don’t do it. And my wallet thanks me.

    I also do not know if my temperament is such that I would be tempted to excess — but I simply have no reason to find out. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. It simply doesn’t matter to me enough to expend the effort to try it.

    I also don’t care if others do so long as they do it in moderation. Eat and drink to the glory of God. I will not surpass the Scripture to condemn you.

    Charles, you are guilty of an abuse of the slippery slope technique. “If you drink a little then you will drink a lot” is neither logical nor true.

    1. I wouldn’t be completely teetotal, but I do limit the amount that I would imbibe. In moments of stupidity in the past I did take more than was good for me, and found it doesn’t do anything for me that is remotely positive. 2 or 3 units of alcohol – one pint of beer, or a couple of glasses of wine – malks me feel very mellow, but any more than that sends me into depressed mode. It also messes up my stomach. I can enjoy myself without getting plastered.

  18. Darrell, I am in the same “strange position” as you, but I can’t help but agree with Charles on at least a modified “slippery slope.” I’ve known a lot of people who started with “moderation” and ended up with DUIs, accidents, or worse, lost jobs and friendships. Suffice it to say that, not only have I come by my teetotalling the same way you have, I have the negative examples of friends to keep me dry.

    I know you’re not promoting drinking, but I think Charles has a point that some of the comments seem to point that way in a bragadocious, immature way. Sentiments like “you have not left Fundamentalism until you’ve had your first beer” are immature, reverse dogmatism. Someone else compared drinking to cellphones–the problem is that cellphones are not physically addictive (at least not literally 😉 ).

  19. Jordan, as someone who agreed with the “you have not left Fundamentalism until you’ve had your first beer” statement, let me attempt to clarify my position.

    First of all, I have absolutely NO problem with an abstentionist position. None. I’ve held it myself, both in the “drinking is sinful” form, as well as in the “drinking is ok, but I don’t think it’s wise” form. My problem is with the former, not with the latter. If you think it could potentially lead to problems for you, or you just don’t want to spend money on something you find unnecessary and/or unappetizing, then by all means don’t! “Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him…Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14). If you choose to abstain, then abstain to the glory of God. If you choose to drink (in moderation), then drink to the glory of God. Neither position is wrong.

    Secondly, were we to meet, I would neither offer you a drink, nor consume one in front of you, just as I would refrain from offering my Mormon friends coffee or asking my Muslim friends to go out for lunch during Ramadan. It’s needlessly creating an offense over something that that isn’t an essential of the faith either biblically (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) or historically (e.g., the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds), and frankly is NOT something worth separating over. Again, do as your conscience dictates.

    Finally, I think that most of us who’ve left fundamentalism have had moments that cemented the decision for us, times when we KNEW that we’d passed the “point of no return.” For some of us that was having our first beer or glass of wine. For others, it was buying their first non-KJV Bible. For others, it was visiting (or joining!) a non-IFB church. For still others, it was going to the movies, or buying a rock CD, or wearing pants, or “forgetting” to wear a tie to church…you get the idea. When I voiced my agreement to the above-mentioned statement, that was the sense in which I meant it – for me, that was one of my moments. I apologize if I appeared to mean otherwise.

  20. I understand those sentiments. My point was that establishing a particular attitude about a particular superficial standard of fundamentalism as a standard of NON-fundamentalism–especially proclaimed in such a childish way–is rather foolish.

    By way of personal example, I dated for a time a girl who was raised in a very, very strict fundy home. She has spent most of her adult life trying to correct her wildly oscillating moral gyroscope as a result of the way legalistic ultra-fundy standards warped her childhood. She spent a lot of time in college doing things for the simple reason that they were the opposite of what she’d been taught. I once told her that, even if you’re living the way you want, if you’ve got a chip on your shoulder about the rules you’re still allowing fundamentalism to dictate your behavior by rebelling against those rules.

    You mention epiphanies, and I agree that that’s a more mature way to frame one’s distance from fundamentalism. I realized at some point growing up that not all Catholics were going to hell, that offerings weren’t necessary, that women didn’t have to wear pants, and all that good nostalgic stuff that Darrell has been so perfectly satirizing. But getting over fundamentalism is more than just wearing pants, drinking, listening to rock, and converting to Catholicism or whatever. As in the case of my ex-girlfriend, rejecting superficial standards is no more a heart change than adopting superficial standards–and I think we’ve all known fundies who were nothing but superficial.

    Jeez–didn’t mean to get so serious. 😀

  21. “My point was that establishing a particular attitude about a particular superficial standard of fundamentalism as a standard of NON-fundamentalism–especially proclaimed in such a childish way–is rather foolish.”

    I think you and I agree more than we realize (though I apparently communicated that rather poorly – really gotta work on those communication skills!). I would totally agree that fundamentalism is WAY deeper than the externals. I would say that someone can have a beer every now and then, wear jeans to church, read from the Message, smoke the occasional cigar, and go to every PG-13 and R-rated movie playing in theaters, and still be EVERY BIT as much a fundamentalist as the ones satirized on this blog. In fact, that’s the beef I have with some of the “big names” (and little names) in the circles I run in now – while they may look very different, they can be every bit as fundy in attitude as those in the churches I grew up in!

    I would also agree that those of us (I’m including myself here) who leave fundamentalism do fall into the very real danger of entering the “cage stage,” where we take our new-found liberty to the extreme of rubbing it in fundamentalists’ faces (hence the name “the cage stage” – those in it ought to be locked up in a cage and not let out until the newness has worn off and they have learned some grace, humility, and love!). While I have managed to avoid the cage stage for some areas, it definitely remains a temptation, and I admit that I’ve probably entered it – or at least come dangerously close – in some areas. By the grace of God, I will continue to learn and grow in that area.

    One more caveat: while some of my epiphanies DID deal with the externals, they actually had nothing to do with my leaving fundamentalism, nor did I leave with the intention of leaving – but that’s a whole other story and I’ve already written enough in these last couple comments as it is! I also did not have them IN ORDER TO rebel, but rather as the result of searching the Scriptures to see what was true and coming to different conclusions than those I had been taught. I didn’t have my first drink or visit my first non-IFB churches in order to rebel against my childhood, but rather because I’d done some serious studying of what the Bible says, had come to different conclusions, and, having become fully persuaded in mind, acted accordingly.

    All that to say: I would agree with your point that fundamentalism runs both ways (even if that didn’t come across in my comments very well).

  22. Just ran across an article that is pertinent here (different context, but same issue):

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/why-some-reformed-people-are-such-jerks/

    “This same thing often happens to folk when they first adopt the Reformed doctrine of predestination or discover the Reformation doctrine of Christian liberty. They over react to their Arminian or fundamentalist past or they’re so intoxicated with what they’ve learned that they believe that everyone one else must come to share their new found passions and freedom as quickly and intensely as they. Usually folks get over it, but there is a period where maybe our young convert to predestination and Christian liberty is still in his Arminian and/or fundamentalist congregation. The stage is set for a culture clash.”

  23. Great sentiments, Amanda. I attest that I went through a reactionary phase, at first. We have to be so careful not to write off people, especially since we once thought the same way and God didn’t give up on us. And it really isn’t about us anyway….

    I had to chuckle about your list of fundamentalist epiphanies, almost every taboo you listed gave me the same feelings. Like, wow, I really just went to church without a tie…. But these things weren’t done on a whim or in a desire to just rebel or anything. It is a careful and slow process of thinking through things Biblically with a new found objective liberty.

  24. I like this site, it brings back many memories of things i have encounted in 30 years of being an ifb.

    i may get in trouble for this, i dont drink, i dont advocate drinking, but the photo of the ladies with the sign that says, that lips that touch liquor wont touch thiers.

    it should read, no mans lips will be able to bring his lips near ours, until they had quite a few first ….lol

    or it could say, ” we are the reason paper sacks were invented.”

  25. “Do fundies who shun alcohol drink caffeine?”

    In my experience, fundies not only drink caffeine, they’re also quite addicted to it, to put it mildly. Somehow drinking and smoking are taboo, but overindulgence of caffeine and food is perfectly ok. Never did get that one.

  26. Oh, it was only BJU? They were liberal already!

    And what about cooking wine? Very sticky topic…

    And, I think I still remember all the IFB answers to the questions raised here…. Thats kind of sad. lol

  27. Well… I’m gonna have to turn in my IFB card and my IFB-KJVO secret decoder ring now… I went out with a couple of Presbyterian friends this evening… and now I’ll never git a kiss from those beautiful ladies pictured above. I skipped the medicinal wine in the teaspoon and went straight for the beer. Funny how the Social gospel of the Tenperance movement has had such a lasting effect on Biblle-belt traditionalism. It truly is one of the last icons to fall in the de-programming of an IFB/IFBX Stepford-ite. I will say it is only by the Grace of God that I am no longer an IFB-KJV acolyte.

  28. If I’m not mistaken I think Shelton Smith actually met with Jaggelli and talked with him before denouncing the book. At least I think that’s the way it was written in SOTL.

  29. Oh for the love of MARY! Come on now! Not everyone who has a little taste every now and then (including yours truly who loves a good chocolate martini every once in a while) is going to become a full-blown alcoholic. Grant it, there are some that are more susceptible, but not all. And, if you are one that is susceptible, then you might want to abstain, for your own sake.

    My belief if that when the Bible says wine, it means wine. Therefore, in moderation, it is fine. I think the Bible is pretty cut and dry on this issue, frankly.

      1. Oooh, let me me tell you, it’s my absolute favorite.

        Now, the way I make it is TECHNICALLY not a chocolate martini like most places make. I make mine at home and use less alcohol. I just make chocolate milk and put a shot of chocolate liqueur in it. And then, shaken not stirred.

        1. But, most places make it with half and half, chocolate liquor, and vodka, but I don’t like the taste of vodka.

    1. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
      And vegetation for the labor of man,
      So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
      And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
      So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
      And food which sustains man’s heart.

      Psalm 104: 14-15

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