On November 5, the residents of Simpson County will have the privilege of voting our consciences with respect to the sale of alcohol in our community. As a minister of the Gospel, I am heartened by the knowledge that Christians and sensible citizens throughout the county agree that alcohol abuse is a terrible thing. We are all too familiar with the tragedy of broken homes, battered women, abused children and completely unnecessary traffic fatalities caused by drunken fools who care only about themselves. No doubt, such considerations as these will move many voters to say no to selling liquor. By all means, let us vote our convictions.
Still, it seems to me that a strong case can be made for voting ‘yes’ to the sale of liquor. First, from a Scriptural perspective there can be no doubt that while the Bible firmly denounces excessive drinking, it also embraces the responsible use of alcohol. For example, in the Old Testament, Psalm 104:14-15, King David praises and glorifies God, saying, “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” In fact, wine ranks right up there with food as one of the many blessing that come from the hand of a bountiful God and for which we give Him thanks daily. Only the most closed-minded soul would try to argue that this text speaks of unfermented grape juice, for it gladdens the heart of man. I can just imagine one coming home after a miserable day at work and then rushing to the refrigerator for a glass of Welch’s grape juice, saying, ‘Ah, this is just what I needed.’ Of course not! One of the wonderful properties of wine in moderation is that it truly does gladden the heart of man, for which the godly may well give thanks to the One who created it.
Likewise, it seems plain that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of sinners drank wine and did so without sinning. One look at the Gospel of Matthew 11:18-19 demonstrates this. Jesus said, “For John came neither eating nor drinking and they say, ‘He has a demon,’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Surely, one must admit here, that according to Jesus, people saw Him drinking at times, and His enemies used this against him to accuse Him falsely of being a drunkard.
A second argument for voting in favor of the sale of liquor is philosophical. Simply put, I do not wish to live in the world of ‘no,’ where good things are prohibited for fear that some people will abuse their freedom. I believe people have the right to bear arms, provided that they use them responsibly. I believe people have the right to drive cars, provided they drive safely. I believe people have the right to drink, so long as they use common sense.
Most of all, I believe it is better to raise children to learn that irresponsibility is the enemy, and not a gun or a wine glass. If my grandson learns responsibility, abstinence will not be an issue. I believe that experience shows that an over-abundance of rules begs a child to rebel, while teaching responsibility builds character and opens doors. Galatians 5:22-23 teaches us nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, nine basic virtues that come from God. Abstinence is not one of them. Abstinence is not a virtue, but a choice. Self-control, however, is of God. Let us seek this divine gift, along with charity towards others, however we may vote November 5.
Sharon Presbyterian Church