Slavery and Alcohol

Seemingly two disparate topics, no? I don’t know of a direct connection, but I’d like to examine current Christian reactions to both. This post is prompted by remarks made by D. A. Carson at the EFCA Theology Conference and transcribed for us here. In these comments, Carson notes the difference between the American slave trade and slavery in the ancient Roman empire. The American slave trade was basically ‘men-stealing’ (Ex 21.16; 1 Tim 1.10), whereas the Roman system functioned in many ways as a social safety net for the insolvent (men-stealing was also involved, but was not the primary source of Roman slaves).

Is there anyone today who would argue that Christianity allows for any legitimacy to slavery at all? We don’t deny that Christians, sadly, have made such arguments. It’s more than sad, its an embarrassment that otherwise respected Christians of the past could not see the evil of the slave trade.

What is the Christian argument against slavery?

We agree that slavery is an evil. We stand together against it. On what basis do we take this stand?

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alcohol, aging and cancer

See this article for an interesting report of a little known study.


why drink?

Jesus said, “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Lk 16.8)

An article by an admitted drinker demonstrates how often this is true. He asks and answers my question this way:

Why drink?

Oh, I know the stock answers as well as anyone. Because of the taste. Because of the camaraderie it encourages. Because it helps me relax. All of which are true, up to a point, and all of which bring to mind government ads of young, attractive twenty-somethings responsibly enjoying a single glass of wine over a candle-lit dinner (rather than binge-drinking, which is what they normally do).

The truth, in my experience, can be more ragged and dark. We drink because at the end of the day we feel like we have a wolverine sitting on our chests and a drink is the only thing that helps us breathe. We drink because our jobs suck. We drink because we want to be someone else. We drink to feel attractive. We drink because we sometimes feel the need to be bad. We drink because we fear the future. We drink because the world is sobering enough as it is.

Why is it that Christians who drink want to claim the fairy-tale view of the wine ads?

By the way, if you read the whole article, you will see that the author is no supporter of my views. He is arguing against further taxation of alcohol in our province, saying that increasing costs are very unlikely to have any effect on reducing problem drinking. I tend to agree with him on that conclusion, but I don’t have any problem sticking it to the drinkers.


four posts on alcohol

I’d like to recommend four posts on alcohol by Jeff Straub. Jeff and I tend to tangle online. We have widely different opinions in some areas. But I have to say these four articles are extremely well done and worth your time:

  1. The Christian and Alcohol: Does the Bible Permit Drinking in Moderation?
  2. Popping the Cork on a Can of Worms?
  3. Choosing to Abstain
  4. One Final Word on Alcohol

Regular readers will know that I don’t subscribe to the two-wine theory, but that I totally oppose the use of alcohol as a beverage for Christians at any time. I actually oppose the use of beverage alcohol for anyone, but my position is very unlikely to gain a hearing in the world at large. My hope is that Christians will get serious about alcohol and totally abstain. There is no good reason for any believer in Christ to ever participate in its use.


so is gluttony a sin?

A common line given by the pro-alcohol crowd is “well, gluttony is a sin too, why don’t you preach on that?”

Well, what is the Biblical foundation for this statement?

Search and you will find exactly 4 verses that use the words ‘gluttonous’ or ‘glutton’ in the KJV. The NAU adds three more references.

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pre-prohibition like current drug war?

An assertion was made on a post at SI, in a thread entitled “Some thoughts on beverage alcohol” that I think is just not true:

From what I have observed over the years, the liquor industry and culture Sunday, Jones, et al. faced bares little resemblance to the same industry we face today. If we were to look for a modern parallel, the modern equivalent might be the hard drug market. It was in this milieu the evangelists of old thundered forth against liquor for close to a hundred years and continued on after the repeal of Prohibition.

The first sentence is true enough as far as it goes. Things are different now. But that’s where the accuracy of the statement ends.

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does temperance = moderation?

The debate over the use of alcohol continues to rage over at Sharper Iron, being the most talked about topic in recent days involving a number of threads. I would refer you to my recent post on drunkenness for a biblical argument for abstinence.

One recent comment on SI included this paragraph:

To your initial question, I would respond that self control is a fruit of the Spirit and those who do not yield to Him can find themselves where you and your family found yourselves [a reference to a previous commenter’s personal testimony]. Nevertheless, it is clear from Church history and Christian circles where moderation is practiced today that this isn’t as mysterious as we sometimes pretend it is. Those who imbibe in moderation don’t drink wine as though it were Gatorade after a long run. They have it in small quantities with dinner or a beer after work. I’ve often wondered at the large wine glasses and small quantities that they pour. This is apparently not just to enhance the wine’s bouquet but the practice of moderation.

This comment sparked some thinking. Notice the first line: “self control is a fruit of the Spirit”. This appears to be a reference to Gal 5.23 where ‘egkrateia’ is translated by the NAS and ESV as “self-control” (KJV = “temperance”).

Notice that later in the paragraph the idea of self-control is equated with ‘moderation’. “Those who imbibe in moderation…” and “… the practice of moderation.”

Now, we wonders, does temperance = moderation?

A look at the words involved seems to indicate something quite the contrary.

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what about drunkenness?

On another blog, I made this comment regarding my stance against alcohol use:

I am not saying that our culture is now so corrupt that alcohol is a worldly device. I am saying that there are good and sufficient reasons for Christians today to totally abstain from alcohol use. We can make the arguments on the basis of wisdom, on the basis of changes in alcohol content and production in modern times, on the basis of clear scriptural warnings, and, I think, on the basis of the prohibition on drunkenness.

I may need to revise my statement on culture in that first sentence at some point, but my purpose here is to develop an argument against alcohol use on the basis of the prohibition on drunkenness.

The first thing we need to establish is this: What do we mean when we talk about the prohibition of drunkenness?

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