Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Religion • Is it OK For Christians to Take a Drink?

First, let it be established that The Bible nowhere states that drinking will send you to hell. It might get you there sooner, but the act itself is not listed amongst the sins.

Indeed the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1 Timothy 5:23)

Those who enjoy bending the elbow rejoice over this chapter as they constantly battle stomach problems and other infirmities that need to be dealt with. It is for medicinal purposes dontcha know.

Furthermore there is another Scripture verse which says, “Give strong drink unto him that is…....and wine unto those that…..” This will be discussed and explained later so stay tuned.

The Bible states “Be thou moderate in all things.”  Does this mean the Christian can drink as long as it is moderate?  Current articles in Christianity Today on this subject has pulled the most reader responses to any story they have published.

Chaplains trained by this ministry are forbidden to drink even wine. There is no question that it can relax you and help you sleep. However, when you awaken, that sluggish feeling from the drinks the night before must be dealt with and restricts you from being your best at the awakening moment.

When a chaplain receives that call in the middle of the night, he or she must hop out of bed with full energy while reporting to the scene of the call. The chaplain lives by the motto, Stand Ready and Prayed Up. That means the vessel must be totally clear at all times to be able to give the best possible in all situations.

When serving as a Chaplain to the world of Show Business, I would be invited to opening night parties. At one of those, a star of the show said, “Come on Austin, have a drink….we know you’re sincere.”  My response startled him when this answer was given: “Thanks so much for offering, it might taste good and make me more comfortable, but I love you too much to accept the invitation.”

The star looked at me puzzled before it was explained. “You see, that drink might totally relax me, even make me sleepy, but one hour after taking that drink, you may find yourself in trouble and need me to pray for you and I would not have the full strength to put into that prayer for you because of that drink, and I cannot take that chance.” The star nodded his head as he understood what I was saying.

For ministers in all capacities, they must be part of this world yet separated from worldly things, meaning activities of the world which would weaken the respect that our position requires. Since the world drinks and abuses alcohol, for a Christian to to be seen having that social drink puts him or her on the same level as the world which should never be. We walk with a higher calling.

This does not mean in any way that it is OK to drink privately at home out of public view. Family members would be taken back by that hypocrisy which should never be a part of the Christian life. What you do in public you do at home. And God sees it all.

This does not mean you condemn those you see drinking. Yacht Clubs, like the Shriner Clubs, start and end their days with drinks. When approached at one of their functions, a member said, “Hey Chaplain, let me buy you a drink,” The response was simply, “Hey, thanks a lot for the offer, but I AM on an ecclesiastical diet.” People in the vicinity laughed with respect to what was said. They appreciated it.

Romans 14:21 states: “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended or made weak.”  Every soul we encounter each day is entrusted into our hands. How are we going to affect those persons by our conduct? This is another sacred trust that must be considered at all times.

We are not to even give the appearance of evil, actions that might be misunderstood. (I Thessalonians. 5:22.) When one sees a Christian drinking, [that] Christian becomes just like everyone else and the effectiveness of our calling and testimony takes a hit.

So what about the portion of Scripture above?  It is taken from Proverbs 31:6-7 which is preceded by instructions to kings on drinking: “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts;  Let him drink, and forget his poverty and remember his misery no more.”

Clear enough. Drinking is for those in misery and those who are losers. We must be above that.
       

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