“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” ESV Colossians 3:1-2
Alcohol. It’s the subject of much discussion in my hometown of Russellville as the citizens wrestle with the merits of legalizing its sale. It’s a subject for which many display an intense passion so I hope these words are received with the graciousness of their intent (Ephesians 4:29) by everyone.
Try as I may, I cannot find a strict biblical prohibition against alcohol and many of the scriptures commonly used for its condemnation are equally applicable to the food we eat. Yes, even eating is detrimental to our bodies, and unbiblical, in excess. But at least let us all agree that alcohol, along with many other things, is sinful when consumed to excess (Proverbs 23:20-21).
Having said that, let me point out that drunkenness is condemned by scripture in many, many places; I Corinthians 6:10, Galatians 5:21 and Ephesians 5:18 to name just a few. And Proverbs tells us that it is unwise for kings and rulers to consume strong drinks because it could affect their judgment (Proverbs 31:4-5) and hence their legacy.
The Apostle Paul observed once that not everything he was permitted to do was necessarily beneficial (I Corinthians 6:12) for him to do. And, in the same passage, he states his resolve to not be “enslaved” or addicted to anything. As we weigh the question before us I think it is both wise and prudent to consider Paul’s convictions.
One of the arguments commonly associated in favor of legalizing alcohol is that it would increase our tax revenues and attract nice restaurants; thereby increasing our quality of life. Yet a casual observation of other communities that have adopted legal alcohol sales in recent years doesn’t convince me that they are demonstrably “better off” than we are today. Argue to the contrary if you desire, but when all things are considered, regulations, inspections, enforcement, etcetera, it is very much like pouring water into a leaking bucket.
Some of the rhetoric surrounding the issue is so temporal and self-serving at times that I fear a view of eternity is too often lost entirely. Yet, at the end of the day Christians are called to set their “minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth (Colossians 3:2).” Christians are always supposed to keep eternity in view.
To quote the Apostle Paul once more, “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).” Whatever you do, including when you vote your convictions on this issue, I encourage you to do so with eternity view and with the intent of glorifying God.