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The Appearance of Evil

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Doing anything to excess is bad for you. If you eat too much it’s bad for you, because you’re going to get fat. Obviously gluttony could be a sin.

But we don’t say eating is a sin. We don’t say, “Hey, you can’t eat.” So why do churches say you can’t drink?

There’s a rule among the churches that if you’re on the church staff, drinking alcohol is not allowed. I don’t personally agree with that. You’re saying that if I’m a pastor, or a youth pastor, or somehow on staff, then I’m not allowed to sit at the dinner table and have a glass of wine with my wife. Why not? Why do you think anyone should be reprimanded for that? Because of what it represents?

I’m not misrepresenting the church. Are you saying Jesus misrepresented God when He drank wine? No!

People talk a lot about avoiding the appearance of evil. But why is it evil to have a glass of wine at dinner with my wife? There’s no “appearance of evil” in that. The “appearance of evil” is if I’m drinking wine and standing on the table acting like a hoodlum. There it is. There’s your sin.

But enjoying an alcoholic beverage with my wife? You’re going to tell me that that’s an appearance of evil?  No, that’s your judgment.  And that is not appropriate, because I’m doing nothing wrong.

This is just my personal opinion, but I think that when the churches make this rule against drinking, they are living because of fear of man.

I feel like the churches are too afraid of their reputations. They’re afraid people are going to think badly of them. They’re afraid if someone on staff has a glass of wine, people won’t think they’re good. Why?  Why aren’t they going to think you’re good?  You’re not doing anything wrong.

Well, they say, the nonbeliever will think that you’re sinning. Why? Why would a nonbeliever try to hold judgment over me on something they don’t even believe in? Suppose a nonbeliever sees me having a beer and asks, “Aren’t you sinning?” I would ask, “Well, do you think it’s a sin to drink?” And when they answer “No,” I would say, “Then why do you think I’m sinning?”

There’s no reason! That’s a judgment. If you’re doing nothing wrong, if you’re not living in sin at the time of your alcoholic beverage, then you’re not giving any kind of appearance of evil.

Of course if there’s a pastor out there just slurring like crazy, and rambling, and falling over, then his church is going to take some flak. And as James says, he’ll to be held to a higher standard. But the standard is not drinking. The standard is Jesus. Jesus, who drank wine. He is the highest standard there is, the King of Kings, God in human flesh!

His appearance is the appearance we should reflect.

Next I want to tell you a bit about an exciting idea CNN has about fighting human trafficking.  See you Tuesday.

5 thoughts on “The Appearance of Evil

  1. I don’t think that drinking in moderation is a sin. Honestly, I don’t even think that drinking alcohoicially is a “sin”; rather a disease called alcohoism, declared so by the AMA in the 1950’s. So, a husband and wife should be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company with wine. My pastor does not drink at all, not because he is a pastor, rather, because alcoholism runs in his family and he wants to avoid that trouble. Now, I am an ACA, so I should probably avoid it too, but I know from years of experience, I can handle it. I can barely finish a beer and frankly prefer red wine. I am always moderate. Now, keep me away from plastic… credit cards…..

    Whether it is shopaholism, alcoholism or whatever addiction, we are only trying to fill the God hole in our hearts w/ the wrong stuff. It won’t work anyway, so why not choose Jesus instead. The church needs to be human enough to allow other’s their basic humanity. Husbands and wives like to mellow out together with wine and a few dresses or shoes isn’t going to break the bank. ….. Joie de vivre, I say!

  2. This puts me in mind of the interview 60 Minutes did with Albert Pujols. The reporter said in his narration that Pujols is a devout Christian. Cutting to interview footage, the reporter asked Pujols, “Do you drink?” Pujols said no, and no to drugs and cursing as well. There! 60 Minutes offered its proof of the man’s Christian character.

    From this, I conclude that there is a wide section of the populace that measures devotion by such outward appearances as drinking, taking drugs, or swearing. I guess this really is the standard by which Christians are measured. I don’t agree. I think the outward sign of devotion should be our concern for the well-being and dignity of others. I think the standard should be, do we live our lives in the service of others? Do we live according to God’s rules?

    Your series here on alcohol, and the 60 Minutes feature on Pujols, say to me that for many people, Christians and non-Christians, the proof of our devotion is sadly and depressingly limited to some pretty superficial tests.

    But like you Jeremy, Pujols spends a lot of his time living in the service of others. He shows deep concern for the well-being and dignity of others. Continuing with the 60 Minutes piece, I was really moved to see Pujols and his wife down in the slums of the Dominican Republic, in people’s homes (not anything most Americans would recognize as a home), finding out what they need, and then getting it for them. That’s beautiful. To me, that’s what we, the lovers of Jesus, are called to do.

    If Pujols had a drink with one of those people, would that be the appearance of evil? That’s just laughable. I lost patience with Christians a long time ago, and it’s because of this. If you’re so busy worrying about whether your pastor had a drink, it’s because you have too much time on your hands. You should be too busy protecting and uplifting the least among us to care. Alcohol is only a problem if it makes the drinker cruel or dangerous, or makes him neglect his family. As I think you have said here, that’s the sin.

    Sorry to sound harsh, but I’m getting older and I want to see things get better before I go.

  3. I understand what you are saying, but it can be looked at from a different perspective. The bible also talks about not doing things that may cause a brother to stumble. So while it is not wrong for you to have a glass of wine in a restaurant with your wife, what if (assuming that you are a pastor or leader in your church) a member of your congregation who is dealing with alcoholism sees you drinking that glass of wine? As a result, he decides to have a glass as well. As a leader in the church, you are held to a higher standard and are an example to others, whether you like it or not.

    Also, say you are out with some friends from the church and you order a glass of wine with your meal. What if one of those friends is struggling with an alcohol addiction that you are not aware of, and he is not strong enough to resist ordering a glass of wine for himself? If you turn it around and look at it from the point of an addict or recovering addict that is looking for the pastors of the church to lead by example, then it changes things.

  4. I appreciate Holly’s comment. It is a real act of love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ and self denial to not have that glass of wine. Each of us have to examine ourselves and yes, we do have a liberty in the Lord, however it is a liberty to do what’s right in the sight of the Lord, not a liberty to see what we can get away with and abuse the grace Jesus has extended to us. Ultimately we have to answer to Him and we are held to a higher standard. I want to be a wise and faithful servant to the Lord. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required, and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 14:48
    Christ has made us kings and priests to God our Father so we need to be an example to lead others in a way that will bring Him honor and glory. It’s unfortunate that the enemy of our soul uses this issue to sidetrack so many in so many ways. Let’s pray for wisdom and discernment. To God be the glory!

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