Rebuking Huckabee 12/30/14 – Special Edition: Response to Huckabee’s Fake Bible Quotes

Since Huckabee’s show this past week was an interview with millennials rather than his usual monologue, I decided to do a special post rebuking Huckabee’s post on his website blog called, “Obama’s Version of the Bible.” Apparently, Obama made a gaffe in saying, “The Good Book says don’t throw stones at glass houses,” which, of course, is not in the Bible, and it’s not the correct wording of the quote. Huckabee took advantage of this as an opportunity to make up fake Bible quotes intended to make fun of Obama, but that actually serve the purpose of leading them astray. (You can see the whole post at http://www.mikehuckabee.com/mike-huckabee-news?ID=43f29d89-811e-41f9-9f31-2e0b591d51eb ). Here’s my response to the governor that I posted on his blog (Of course, a few hours after I posted it, a hacker took down my web site access page and then disabled my video software. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it seems strange that this never happened until right after I started posting weekly on Huckabee’s site, and that it was only my means of getting the message out that was attacked):

Gov. Huckabee,

That was quite a creative endeavor that you embarked on, twisting all of those Bible verses. You must have a lot of experience at that. I do, however, have a few corrections to make on some things in this post, so that hopefully you will be better informed next time you try something like this.

1) As for your quote that, “The actual saying goes like this: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Democrats never seem to get the wisdom of this advice, because they love to accuse others of doing the very things they blatantly do.”….. I love the layers of irony in your statement, since your accusation against them is true of yourself and your party. For example, Republicans such as yourself accuse the Democrats of out-of-control spending, while any examination of a year-by-year chart of total federal outlays shows that Reagan increased spending an average of 6.5% per year, Bush 41 increased it 5.5% per year, Clinton only 3.5%, Bush 43 a whopping 7.5%, and Obama less than 4% per year. Looks like you’ve got a lot of glass to clean up, Governor!

2) You stated: “Incidentally, this isn’t the first time the President has tried to use the Bible to support his political ends. But he’s always gotten it wrong. Here are some examples:”
“Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God…well, just give it all to Caesar.”…. Actually, Obama doesn’t even want anyone to give half to Caesar, he just realizes that taxes must be high enough to pay the nation’s bills so we don’t reach debt doomsday, when the nation can no longer borrow money and have to hyper-inflate its currency. Since Bush and his Republican Congresses of six years increased spending at an average rate of 6.58% per year while cutting taxes (our debt grew 102% during Bush’s tenure), it’s going to take tax money to cover that, and it makes the most sense to tax the rich who needlessly receive all of those loopholes and subsidies from the Republicans that run up the debt.

3) You stated: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was mine, and the Last Word is my executive order.” Did you ever notice how recent executive orders are numbered in the 14,000s? That’s because over 14,000 of them have been issued since Lincoln. Obama is on pace to issue about 250 of them. There are 22 presidents who have issued more executive orders on a monthly basis. Perhaps you might want to educate your audience on history instead of making accusations unsupported by history.

4) You stated: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No man receiveth health care coverage except by Me.”….This quote would be better attributed to the corporations. Without Obamacare, millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions have no choice but to be enslaved to corporations if they want healthcare, and the corporations can get away with giving them low pay, since they have no other choice but to accept low pay in exchange for healthcare. Obamacare care gives those people the freedom to become self-employed, work for small businesses who don’t offer healthcare, or retire early. Corporations don’t want that, because then they have to offer better pay to compete for workers.

5) You stated: “And ye shall be kept from the truth, and the ignorance will make you free.”….The throwing of stones in glass houses couldn’t apply more than it does here. For example, on your show this past week, you mentioned Warren’s frustration over the spending bill, saying she wanted to “break the banks,” but failed to educate your audience of the Republican lifting of the ban on tax payer funded bailouts for risky derivative speculation that Warren was really mad about. Keeping your audience ignorant and distracted seems to be the whole purpose of your show!

6) And finally, you stated: ““I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, sayeth Me, which is and which was, and which is to come, at least until Iran gets The Bomb.”…That one is really pretty weak, but it scares me about what will happen when if you, or any Republican, becomes president. You’re already making the case for war with Iran, a country whose only reason to hate us is that we overthrew their government, installed a puppet dictator who served our interest and oppressed his people, and then when they rebelled, we armed Saddam Hussein so his invasion of them would be successful. Now Republicans are making the case for another invasion. Three trillion dollars and 50,000 dead Americans later, Iran’s oil fields will belong to the oil companies, just as they now do in Iraq. Worse than Iran getting the bomb, however, is North Korea getting it because they are run by a crazy… wait! They already obtained nukes in 2006! And Bush did nothing to stop them, because they don’t have oil! And yet we are all still here! Is Republican Mideast policy serving God or money? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Why the Republican “Obamacare Funds Abortion” lie should not deceive Christians

As the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress while simultaneously bringing yet another anti-Obamacare case before the Supreme Court, conservative Christians are regaining their enthusiasm for abolishing the Affordable Care Act. And the leading cry in their cause is that “Obamacare Funds Abortions.” The Republican pundits and politicians have pounded into Christian minds for a few years now that a vote for national healthcare is a vote to kill babies.

This confusion can be resolved with one very simple solution: reading the law. If you go to pages 65-67 of the Affordable Care Act (sec. 1303 & 1304), you’ll see that it goes to great length to make it clear to everyone that the ACA is abortion neutral. It says that states are free to make laws that prohibit insurance companies from covering abortion. It says that the ACA does not require any insurance company to cover abortion. And it says that it has no effect on state and local laws that address abortion. Yet, despite all of these facts, the Republican politicians and pundits have convinced millions of Christians that Obamacare funds abortions.

What many ACA opponents fail to realize is that there is no such insurance company or entity as Obamacare. Rather, insurance companies like Blue Cross and Aetna offer insurance plans that meet the criteria required by the ACA, which do not include abortion coverage. For example, my Obamacare card says “Independence Blue Cross” on it. Blue Cross provides the insurance as they always did. But now I am able to be self-employed and have insurance that I could not otherwise get due to pre-existing conditions.

Republicans feel they can technically get away with saying that the ACA funds abortion, because some insurance companies who now offer insurance that meets ACA guidelines have been covering abortion services as a part of their plan all along. They covered it before the ACA was passed, and they continue to cover it, because the ACA is abortion neutral and has not barred any insurance company from covering it, nor has it encouraged or required any insurance companies to cover it.

What anti-Obamacare abortion opponents fail to realize is that many of them were personally funding abortion before the ACA was passed. For example, if an employee had an insurance company through their employer, and they had to pay 25% of the premium, and that insurance company covered abortions under some of their plans, then that employee funded abortions through their premiums paid to the insurance companies. This was something that their employer was effectively forcing them to do (unless they chose not to accept the benefit of health insurance, which few people do), not the government. As I like to say, Republicanism is the idea that tyranny imposed by government is evil, while tyranny imposed by corporations is freedom. The Religious Right was fine with the fact that Christians were personally funding abortions through their insurance companies, as long as there was no government funding involved. But now that the government is helping some people pay for their health insurance, suddenly the Religious Right is in an uproar about it. This is because it’s the corporate wealthy who control the Republican politicians and pundits.

So the next time a Christian tells you that Obamacare must be abolished because of abortion, you may just want to get their email address and send them a link to this article.

How the Republican Party has Removed “Turn the other cheek” from Christianity

Many people today forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, the leader of the peaceful resistance civil rights movement of the 1960s, had another title to his name: “Reverend.” His call to non-violent protest in the face of sometimes violent opposition wasn’t just a political tactic; it was a religious conviction that can be found at the heart of Christianity. It’s rooted in Jesus’ statement, “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”

I believe there are reasons that Jesus gave us this instruction other than that it is simply the right thing to do. One of those reasons is that it prevents the escalation of conflict in which each side feels it must seek revenge for the opposing side’s most recent attack. The other reason is that turning the other cheek leads others to embrace the faith. When people remain peaceful in the face of violent opposition, onlookers see the non-violent victims as righteous and those who impose violence on others as evil. This is how the persecution of non-violent Christians grew the faith in Ancient Rome and in 1800’s Africa. But if both sides trade violence back and forth, pretty soon the world forgets who started it and struggles to see either side as being righteous. This is what has happened to the United States in the War on Terror.

I know that conservatives will be quick to say that it’s impractical for us not to defend ourselves, and I agree. I agree that our only answer to Pearl Harbor was to force Japanese surrender, because Japan would otherwise have continued to expand its power and attack us again. I believe that when the Taliban harbored Al Qaeda, that it was right for us to defeat them and fight back against Al Qaeda. They declared war on us, so we have no choice but to fight that war. But the invasion of Iraq and the torture of Al Qaeda detainees goes beyond defense of a nation; both are examples of all out revenge and one-ups-man-ship.

When Al Qaeda destroyed the World Trade Center, the world’s heart went out to the United States. All of the other countries who were preparing bids for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games vowed to drop their bids in favor of New York City if NYC submitted one. They changed their minds when the U. S. invaded Iraq. Most of the world understood that, for once, we were the invaders, not the victims. And now with the torture of detainees, we have shown again that we are not merely content to defend ourselves, but that we insist on brutalizing those have or might have harmed us, not just for a day, but for months and years on end. It’s as if, in both cases, the Bush Administration wanted to show that if you mess with us, we won’t just defend ourselves, but we will pay you back with 100 times the anger and fury.

Unfortunately, Evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republican these days, have been taught by the Republican Party that vengeful one-ups-man-ship is synonymous with Christianity. And this doesn’t just pertain to opinions on foreign policy, but it also pertains to guns.

I recently learned of a church in my area in which the staff and many of the members carry handguns to church. As a person who has been active in some pretty conservative denominations over the last 25 years, I was shocked to hear this. I have never in all of those years gone to a church where people brought guns to Sunday service. But that was before the Republican pundits and politicians convinced Christian Republicans that the president was going to take away all of their guns (even though neither the president nor any Democratic Party leaders have proposed such a thing). When I asked why so many people bring their guns to church, I was told it was because “Something might happen.” Well, I agree that anything is possible, and I can see how the increase in school shootings in recent years might increase paranoia, but I wonder whether such an action is Christian.

This brings us back to Martin Luther King. He led a movement of unarmed people who KNEW they were likely to be hurt or even killed, yet they chose to be unarmed. They employed peaceful resistance, were therefore seen by society as the righteous victims, and the nation rallied to their cause. Likewise, if we were to enter an age in which those who hated Christianity started to open fire in church services, Christians would be seen as the victims, and America would rally to their cause. But if Christians get gun happy and are not attacked, but instead use their guns to shoot others in church with whom they have a dispute (maybe over Obama), or they shoot someone they think is dangerous but is actually unarmed, then the word will get out to the world that the church is a dangerous place, and onlookers will see Christians as violent and will reject the faith, staying away from churches out of fear of being shot. Then Jesus’ quote from Matthew 26:52, “for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword,” will become “all churches who live by the gun will die by the gun,” not literally, of course, but figuratively in that churches will be seen as violent rather than as peaceful and will fall even more out of public favor than they already are.

I know what I’m about to say may be difficult for the causal Christian to grasp, but devout students of the Bible and church history know that thousands upon thousands of Christians have been put to death for their faith over the years. This includes Jesus himself. He did not try to kill those who came for him and he instructed those who wanted to violently resist not to do so. In fact, the book of Acts says that those who suffered beatings for their faith rejoiced that they suffered as Christ did. Suffering at the hands of those who hate Christians has been at the core of the faith for 2000 years. If someone enters your church and kills you because you’re a Christian (which would most likely be the reason they are entering a church with the intent of killing people), you have the honor of joining the ranks of thousands of saints, including Jesus’ own apostles, who were killed for their faith. Everyone must die, but to die as a result of religious persecution is something that the Bible honors in the book of Revelations. This is not the same as Muslims dying in Jihad, because they die while trying to kill others in war, not by refusing to kill or hurt those who might kill them. So to bring guns to kill anyone who might threaten you or your congregation is out of step with the history of Christianity.

Of course, I know deep inside that the increase in the number of gun-toting churchgoers really has little to do with the fear of a mass murderer entering the church with guns-a-blazin’. It has more to do with making the political statements that “You can’t take away my gun, because my possession means more to me than anything else” (an attitude rooted in greed) and, “You can’t tell me that I can’t take my gun anywhere I want,” (an attitude rooted in pride) that’s really all about forcefully imposing your will on others to show that no one had better mess with you, or you’ll show them! That’s pretty much how Republican politicians, from Ronald Reagan to Chris Christie, lead. And that’s the very opposite of turning the other cheek.

Rebuking Huckabee 12/14/14

Good morning Gov. Huckabee,

You started your show by criticizing the spending bill just passed by the house. You said Republicans were mad because it was a lot of money, but then you said the Democrats, namely Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi, were upset that the spending bill “didn’t crush the banks”. And then you said that “breaking the banks doesn’t grow the economy or create jobs.” And then, surprisingly, that’s about all you had to say on the matter.

Your response is quite a distortion of the truth as well as a massive omission of the truth. Elizabeth Warren did not say in her speech that she wanted to “crush the banks”; she said she felt that Dodd-Frank fell short, because it should have broken the banks into pieces. She then made a reference to Teddy Roosevelt, the famous trust-buster. She wanted to break the big banks up like the government broke up AT&T in the 1980s, not destroy them. In other words, she doesn’t want the banks to be so large that we have no choice but to bail them out to save the economy as a result of them controlling so much of the economy and the government that we have no choice. Citigroup writing this part of this legislation is proof of how much power the banks have over our government.

And that brings us to an even more important point, which is how you completely failed to tell your audience that Citigroup used the Republican Party to include a last minute repeal of the part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that made it illegal for big banks to receive tax payer funded bailouts if they use their depositors’ money to speculate in risky derivatives investments that make their owners rich in the short-term, but are bound to go bust eventually, causing them to lose their depositors’ money and threaten to destroy the economy as their banks career toward collapse. In other words, the Republicans just moved to set our economy on course for another bailout of the banks and possible economic collapse. This is further proof (as if I needed any more proof) that the Republicans don’t GOVERN America; they EXPLOIT America for the sake of the corporate predators they serve. You omitted this, and I’ve noticed that other Fox News programs have done the same. This really shows how UNFAIR and UNBALANCED you and your network are and how you serve money rather than God. (Jesus made it clear you cannot serve both).

As for your complaint that the Democrat-led CIA torture investigation cost tens of millions of dollars and was politically motivated, well…now you know how Democrats felt about Benghazi. The difference between the two is that the CIA investigation yielded hundreds of startling revelations while the Benghazi witch hunt yielded absolutely nothing.

Having one of the culprits, retired CIA man Gary Bernstein, on your show didn’t help. His demeanor was very intense and aggressive, like someone who would use brutal force on other humans without flinching. He was also quite defensive and agitated, like he was under the heat lamp himself. He couldn’t have conducted himself in more of a guilty manner. You would think a CIA guy would be better at pulling something like that off. Yes, he was disappointed that investigators didn’t interview those in the CIA who were guilty of torture. So it was like a trial when the accused takes the 5th. But it’s not like those being interviewed were going to tell the truth about their own evil deeds, anyway. It’s not like the CIA has ever been known for its honesty or accuracy (Iraq WMD’s ring a bell?)

Also, you made the excuse in favor of torture that our being scared after 9/11/2001 justified it. I disagree. There’s a reason Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, and I think that reason is that non-aggressive behavior shows the world who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. When we use the excuse that our enemies attacked us on a single day to torture and abuse them for months on end, we prove ourselves to be as bad as our enemies. Yes, maybe their tactics differ from ours, both qualify as vengeful brutality, not as self- defense. And it’s that kind of vengeance that Jesus prohibited for us Christians.

Why we need a strong federal government to protect us from local government tyranny.

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time discussing politics with conservatives, you’ve been told that we need to beware of the tyranny of the federal government, and that we must transfer their power to state and local governments in order to avoid such tyranny. As the gun debate has heated up in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Republicans have told me that the reason we need to keep an abundance of assault weapons that can kill 15 people in 15 seconds legal is because we may need them someday to fight off a tyrannical federal government.

Apparently, many Republicans envision a future in which the Democrats will embark on an apocalyptic invasion of the American people that resembles a scene from Schindler’s List. This notion has become especially popular since Barack Obama has been elected as our first black president with a Muslim name. However, such an invasion hasn’t happened in any well-established, democratic nation that possesses a system of checks and balances, not here, and not in Europe either. The U.S. Government invading its own people is pretty far-fetched.

What is not far-fetched, however, is the tyranny of local and state governments. And we have seen this tyranny rise up again in recent weeks. Republicans tend to think that because the federal government is large that it is therefore more tyrannical. The truth is that local government leaders and law enforcers can kill you or falsely imprison you just as easily as the federal government can, and our history shows that they do it far more frequently. Over the past few weeks, we have seen that cops can kill unarmed, non-threatening black men and not even be tried for a crime. For those who have been around for a long time or who know their history (which is, sadly, few people) this was the norm in the American South for nearly two centuries; it is nothing new.

In Cleveland, and possibly in New York, the federal government will now step in and try to straighten out the situation if it’s not already too late. This situation reminds me of the Freedom Riders who, in 1961, were victims of a conspiracy by the KKK, the Birmingham city government, and the Birmingham police department to attack and even kill these civil rights demonstrators as they passed through the city on a bus on the way to a rally in New Orleans. The KKK attacked them on multiple occasions, while the police looked the other way, before JFK threatened to unleash federal troops on Alabama if the state didn’t put a stop to the situation. The KKK was powerful enough to corrupt the city and state governments of the South, but not big enough to corrupt the federal government.

It turns out that local and even state governments are more easily controlled by special interests and corporations than the federal government is (although they are not immune, as corporate power has grown more powerful than the federal government in some cases). In fact, it was the coal companies who influenced the Luzerne County (PA) sheriff’s department to slaughter 19 unarmed, non-threatening strikers in the Latimer Massacre of 1897 and who influenced the Colorado state government to slaughter 25 family members of striking miners in the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. And these are just the human rights examples. I haven’t even begun to give examples of how big business has corrupted legislation to make small government work for them and against the interests those struggling to survive. I detail those examples a bit more in my book, “Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason.”

Nonetheless, our history is clear: Tyranny is worst when democracy fails to carry out the will of the voters. And that is usually the result of wealthy, powerful people manipulating small government to their advantage. They want government to be small, so they can overpower it. But they need you to vote for those who hate and want to destroy government in order for that to happen. Sometimes, the only safeguard “we the people” have against such tyranny is appealing to a strong federal government that is too large to be controlled by local and regional powers. Of course, this federal government can become just as dangerous if we vote for politicians who are servants of large corporate power. But otherwise, we have no reason to fear a strong, powerful democracy unless that democracy is controlled by non-democratic forces.

Rebuking Huckabee 12/6/14

[Every week, Fox News host and former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee invites those who have viewed his weekly program, “Huckabee,” to comment on his most recent episode on his web site. I love to oblige and give him some reading material. Since I have a blog, I figured why not share these comments with my readers. So I’ve created a category on my blog called “Rebuking Huckabee.” Since Mike Huckabee is a former pastor, many Christians see him as the truly Christian candidate and therefore embrace his politics as being one-and-the-same as Christianity. I believe that Huckabee uses his position to lead more Christians astray than anyone else in the world, and that’s why I go out of my way to refute his deceptions.]

[What I have posted below is simply my response to his show as I’ve directed toward Mike Huckabee. To get more of a background on what I am talking about, you would have to watch the show, which is fine with me, because I always support people listening to both sides of an argument. Nonetheless, the average reader should have little trouble figuring out what kind of statements I’m replying to in each point I make.]

12/6/14

Nonsense right from the top of the show. China being the largest economy isn’t so alarming when you consider that they have four times our population. Anyone with the most basic understanding of economics would take this into consideration. On a per capita basis, they are nowhere near as large as us.

As for you blaming debt on Obama and saying he created debt that’s nearly “double what it took the first 43 presidents to create”, the truth is the debt under him is on pace for an 83% increase over his 8 budget years compared to 102% for Bush and 189% for Reagan (the all-time high). Again, if you go by total dollars instead of percentage of increase, the most recent president will always have the highest debt numbers and spending numbers due to population, inflation, and production growth. You’re preying upon people who have absolutely no economic common sense and are leading them to erroneous conclusions.

You lied about Obama wanting to have the highest corporate tax rate. He has stated that he wants to lower it to 25%. Why doesn’t Congress call his bluff and pass it all by itself with no strings attached? Because they don’t want him to get the credit for it. By the way, the corporate tax under Eisenhower was 55%, and the economy did quite well.

The business owner on your show (William Marsh) opposing OSHA was an excellent example of someone who had no regard for his employees but only cared about his wealth. He showed no remorse for continually exposing his workers to what he called “a loud and difficult environment” of “91 decibels” (it takes a lot less than that over time to damage hearing), because his lust for money meant more to him than worker health. The money he paid for upgrades went to other companies in the economy and did not kill jobs from a macroeconomic perspective, nor did it cost his employees their jobs. But it did cost him some money, and that’s what’s inexcusable to the corporate wealthy. All he was willing to pay for were one cent ear plugs, but all of us who have worked in factories know it’s uncomfortable to have them stuck in your ear canal all day every day (plus excessive uses leads to wax impaction and infections), so we have a tendency to take them out when we can. The fact that this guy wouldn’t pay more than a cent for the sake of employee health (he said he was upset that OSHA forced him to pay for employee hearing tests on company time) shows just how greedy the corporate wealthy are and how it makes their blood boil to spend more than a cent for employee health.

The whole Jonathan Gruber situation you discussed is just a Republican set-up from a RomneyCare creator who is obviously a Republican who wants to win one for the Republicans. It’s just an attempt from the Republicans to con Americans into thinking that those who created Obamacare were out to destroy America.

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they are not being forced to provide contraceptive “drugs and devices” to others; they are just being forced to provide health insurance coverage that gives the option to employees who believe differently to follow those beliefs. If all of their employees are nuns who don’t use birth control, then they will not be providing birth control for anyone.

Democrats vote their hopes; Republicans vote their fears; and that’s why Democrats lost

In recent months, one of the most common memes I’ve seen making its way around Facebook is the slogan, “Democrats vote their hopes; Republicans vote their fears.” If this is true, then it explains why Democrats lose mid-term elections, especially in recent years.

The truth is that the Republican Party has figured out how to win elections, and a big part of their strategy is fear-mongering. Republicans have convinced gun owners nationwide that Democrats want to take all of their guns away, even though the Democrats have proposed nothing more than common sense background checks and a reduction in the numbers of bullets in an assault rifle clip. Even worse, many of them have been convinced that President Obama plans to take their guns away by force through military action unauthorized by Congress. Meanwhile, a significant percentage of Americans believe that President Obama will declare himself dictator and take over our country , rounding up political opponents and locking them away (or worse), just like Hitler did. And of course, they get these ideas from the pundits at Fox News who, for the past six years, have been trying to equate Obama’s actions with Hitler’s in every way imaginable, no matter how absurd the comparison or how little evidence they have to support their claims.

As the 2014 midterms approached, Republican politicians spread the fear that ISIS was about to “come here and kill us all,” in the words of Senator Lindsay Graham, despite the fact that the president has aggressively pursued ISIS and halted their expansion in the Middle East. Worst of all, Republican media used the Ebola crisis to convince a large percentage of Americans that the Democrats were content letting us all die from Ebola. Of course, sensible people can already see that Ebola is about as non-contagious as a contagious disease can be in a country with sanitary conditions and universal indoor plumbing. The president has been proven the sane one, as he assured Americans that there was little to fear, while the Republican pundits proved to be the reincarnation of Chicken Little.

Nonetheless, the sad truth is that these fears influence people’s decision to vote much more than hopes do. Hopes for the future often seem distance and imaginary. Even the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2009, took nearly five years to implement. But fears of a hostile government takeover or a deadly disease running out of control seem like they could happen at any moment.

But if fear wins elections, the Democrats should not lose hope; rather, they should change course. The harsh reality is that political campaigning is a dirty business, and if your competition is winning with fear-mongering, you just might have to do it, too. The great news for the Democrats is that there’s plenty to fear if Republicans take total control of the federal government in 2016. Here are a few examples:

Debt doomsday and the Great Inflate: Both of these terms are of my own creation. According to the book, White House Burning, by former International Monetary Fund Director, Simon Johnson, debt doomsday, a day in which the government will be in so much debt that no one will lend it money, is probably going to occur in the 2040s, if we stay on pour current pace as far as taxing and spending are concerned. But, as Mitt Romney shared in the 2012 election campaign, the Republican plan was to increase military spending by 20% and cut taxes by 20%. He promised that other spending cuts would be made to balance the budget, but he refused to say what those cuts would be, because he didn’t have any significant cuts planned. Republicans know that if they make cuts that hurt to any great extent that they will be voted out of office in the next election. So the Republican plan to cut taxes and increase spending would probable put us at debt doomsday in about 10 years instead of 30. Romney’s plan is was a more drastic version of Ronald Reagan’s plan, and Reagan oversaw a national debt increase of 189% – the worst ever. This makes Obama’s pace for an 83% debt increase look mild.

What happens on Debt Doomsday?

The nation will have to simply print up the money to pay its debts. Mexico did this in 1982, and the result was over 100% inflation 4 years in a row. That means a $4 hamburger costs over $100 in four years. This will undo all that working class Americans have ever worked for, and since the Republicans no oppose the minimum wage, then our workers will earn poverty wages that differ little from those in developing countries.

More invasions: We know from the last election that Republicans are itching to go to war with Iran in the name of keeping them from getting nukes. Yet the real motive is probably that they want to feed tax dollars to the military industrial complex and turn Iran’s oil over to the oil companies, like they did with Iraq. Can we afford another trillion dollar war and thousands more American deaths? That’s something to fear.

Child labor epidemic: This one may not be as immediate, but the formula for a child labor epidemic, like we had in the late 1800s and early 1900s, already exists in popular Republican ideology. First, Newt Gingrich proposed giving children the “freedom” to work if they want to, because government has no business telling them what to do. Second, the Republican Holy Grail is the abolition of welfare, for which they have a seething hatred. Most recipients of welfare are children, so that leaves them with no means of eating (and don’t forget that many Republicans oppose school lunch programs, too), so now children will have no choice but to work for their food. Third, many Republicans, especially of the conservative Christian variety, want to abolish public schools and privatize k-12 education, so that it will become just as unaffordable as college education. This will make it unlikely that impoverished children will have school getting in the way of their long work hours. And finally, the reason child labor is so desirable for the corporate wealthy is that it’s cheap. Republican leaders now oppose the minimum wage, so if they can abolish it or devalue it with inflation, then children can work for the equivalent of a dollar an hour, and that, in turn, will decrease the demand for adult workers so that their wages will fall as well. The end result will be mass poverty, as was the result during the Republican-dominated Gilded Age.

Losing healthcare: And let’s not forget that one thing we can count on Republicans doing, if they take total control, is repealing Obamacare which will leave several million people who have pre-existing conditions (myself included) without coverage so that they lose everything they ever worked for in a health emergency, or they fail to get care at all during the early stages of serious illnesses when there is still hope for recovery.

That’s a lot to fear! Conservatives might argue that some of these concerns are far-fetched. Yet all of these have already happened, not in a totalitarian regime like Nazi Germany, but in this nation under this Constitution (with the exception of debt doomsday, which happened in Mexico). If a slave-like oppression of workers and children happened here before, as it did when Republicans ruled America from 1860-1932, then it’s not at all far-fetched that these things will happen when they take control in the future.

If we Democrats don’t share these fears with society, then society just might be unfortunate enough to live them out. Maybe in the next election, Democrats should vote their fears, so their fears don’t become reality.

Alcohol (Every Verse Bible Study) – Part 1

(All Bible quotes from the NASB, unless otherwise noted)
(Copyright © 2009 by K. Scott Schaeffer)

From 1920 to 1933, the sale of alcohol was a violation of the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For over 100 years prior to the passage of this amendment, Christians led the crusade to abolish alcohol in America. During this crusade, their political objectives became one with their religious beliefs, and opposition to alcohol consumption became a staple of the Christian faith.
Christians haven’t always opposed alcohol, however. The Puritans, who in the minds of most Americans represent religious rigidity more than anyone, actually loaded more beer and wine onto the Mayflower than they did water. They also served beer, brandy, gin, and wine at the first Thanksgiving celebration (1). So, even though they were strict in many other ways, the Puritans were far more lenient regarding alcohol consumption than most Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches are today.
Who’s right? Whose beliefs better align with the messages that resonate throughout the Bible? The Puritans or the Evangelicals?
To gain biblical clarity on this issue, we must analyze it with the Every-Verse Method. In doing so, we will exclude verses that give no indication of God’s feelings on alcohol consumption, such as Genesis (9:20-27), where Noah gets drunk and embarrasses himself. Neither will we cover ceremonial instructions, such as those applying to priests in the Tent of Meeting (Leviticus 10:9) or to Nazirite vows (Numbers 6). These ceremonial laws were wiped out by Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins on the cross. We will only examine verses that help us determine God’s will regarding alcohol consumption today.

Deuteronomy 14:26, “And you may spend the money for whatever your heart desires, for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.”
Context: God instructs the Israelites to set aside a tenth of their harvest for a celebration. This is often referred to as the Festival Tithe.
Analysis: God’s first mention of alcoholic drink is a positive one. He created it for our enjoyment.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21, “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his home town. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all of the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear of it and fear.”
Context: Various laws of God are presented in these chapters of Deuteronomy.
Analysis: This is the Bible’s first mention of alcohol in conjunction with sin. Alcohol is absent from the laws of Exodus and Leviticus, which precede Deuteronomy. The focus of this passage is not alcohol itself, but rather, the sin of being disobedient to parents—a sin that breaks one of the Ten Commandments. No sound-minded parent would recommend that their child ruin himself with a hedonistic, self-destructive lifestyle abusing both food and alcohol. Here in this verse, drinking alcoholic beverages is no more of a sin than eating food (gluttony), but the abuse of either can be the ruin of any person.

Judges 13:3-5, “Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have born no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’”
Context: The angel of the Lord gives instructions to the mother of Samson regarding the son she would soon deliver. The Nazirite designation set Samson apart from other people. Samson would go on to become one of the Old Testament’s great heroes. He is best known today for his long hair that gave him strength, and for his encounter with Delilah.
Analysis: At this point in time, Samson’s mother was the only person in all of Israel who was prohibited from drinking wine, and that was only during her pregnancy. Since we now know how alcohol can hurt a developing fetus, it’s quite possible that God forbade alcohol consumption here so that Samson would be born physically superior to other babies. However, we cannot be certain of God’s reasoning, since the Bible gives no explanation. What we do know is that this was an isolated case of alcohol abstinence.

Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.”
Context: No real context here, as Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings which apply to all people at all times.
Analysis: To be intoxicated by alcohol is not considered a sin here, but it is considered unwise. When drunk, some people do foolish things they ordinarily would not.

Proverbs 21:17, “He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich.”
Analysis: Pleasure, wine, and oil are associated with feasting. Those who indulge in pleasure too frequently tend to be unproductive.

Proverbs 23:20, “Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will cloth a man with rags.”
Analysis: This verse’s focus is not alcohol, but the unproductiveness of pleasure-seeking. Drunkenness is often associated with gluttony in the Bible. It’s not a sin to drink alcohol or to eat food. It may not even be a sin to experience an isolated episode of drunkenness any more than it is a sin to overeat at a holiday dinner. It is a sin, however, to lead a lifestyle of pleasure-seeking. We cannot seek pleasure and be productive at the same time. We need not look far in today’s world to find people whose party lifestyles get in the way of something as basic as holding a job.

Proverbs 23:29-35, “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine; those who go to taste mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things, and you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. ‘They struck me, but I did not become ill; they beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake so I can find another drink?’”
Analysis: The line, “Do not look on wine when it is red” does not mean that it’s a sin to look at wine, as some have suggested. These verses use exaggerations to make a point and are not to be taken literally. Their examples of hallucinations, confusion, and foolish acts never result from moderate alcohol consumption.
This quote opposes alcohol abuse and proves that it was every bit as much of a problem 3,000 years ago as it is today.

Proverbs 31:4-7, “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel: It is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to desire strong drink, lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of the afflicted. Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his trouble no more.”
Context: This proverb is not from Solomon, but from the mother of King
Lemuel.
Analysis: The point here is that kings should not abuse alcohol, because it will lead them to become evil and oppressive. Again, this verse does not oppose moderate consumption, because moderate consumption does not cause memory loss and poor judgment.
It’s surprising to see a Bible verse recommend that the poor drink to forget their misery. We should not apply this message to the American poor who have an opportunity to better themselves and positively impact the lives of others. The poor in this passage were likely to have been suffering slaves who had no hope for their future on earth.

Song of Solomon 8:2, “I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me; I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.”
Context: Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is an eight-chapter love poem that is ignored by most Christians due to its erotic nature. The words in this verse are spoken by the woman in the poem.
Analysis: The fact that alcohol is mentioned in passing is proof that drinking wine (at least in moderation) was acceptable and undisputed in Solomon’s time.

Isaiah 5:11-12, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! And their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.”
Context: Chapter five lists various woes to those who indulge in sin.
Analysis: This text addresses the full time partier. Drinking wine is no more of a sin here than playing a tambourine, harp, flute, or lyre. God’s displeasure was in people partying their lives away and taking no time to think about God and what He had done for them. Clearly, people haven’t changed since the days of Isaiah.

Isaiah 5:22-23, “Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink; who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!”
Analysis: Even in the days of Isaiah, the biggest alcohol abusers were cheered on by other drinkers for their drinking accomplishments (again, nothing has changed). Also, God associates alcohol abuse among those in power with the injustices that they commit.

Isaiah 28:1, “Woe to the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower of its glorious beauty, which is at the head of the fertile valley of those who are overcome with wine.”
Context: Samaria, the capital of Ephraim, was a luxurious city where the wealthy and the powerful enjoyed the high life.
Analysis: Here, the Bible associates drunkenness with those who have prospered and revel in the resulting luxury. Prosperity is the result of hard work, but those who prosper often indulge themselves in pleasure until they lose what had been gained.

Isaiah 28:7-8, “And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink. The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink. They are confused by wine; they stagger from strong drink. They reel while having visions. They totter when rendering judgment; for all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a single clean place.”
Context: The prophecy against Ephraim continues.
Analysis: The Lord paints a vivid picture of the debauchery of Ephraim’s religious leaders, who apparently had little concern for the ways of the Lord, but had lots of interest in their own pleasure.

Jeremiah 35:1-2, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, ‘Go to the house of the Rechabites, and speak to them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”
Jeremiah 35:6-7, “But they said, ‘We will not drink wine, for Jonadab, the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, “You shall not drink wine, you or your sons forever; and you shall not build a house, and you shall not sow seed, and you shall not plant a vineyard or own one; but in tents you shall dwell all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.”’”
Jeremiah 35:14, “The words of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, which he commanded his sons not to drink wine, are observed. So they do not drink wine to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again; yet you have not listened to Me.”
Context: As a form of prophecy, God instructs Jeremiah to put this family to the test by offering them wine, since they had been obedient to their father’s command not to drink it. They remain steadfast by refusing to drink, and God uses their obedience as an example of how the people of Judah should obey their heavenly Father.
Analysis: From this story we know that, even in the 7th century B.C., people practiced abstinence from alcohol, even though it was not required by the law of God.

Joel 1:5, “Awake drunkards and weep; and wail, all you wine drinkers, on account of the sweet wine that is cut off from your mouth.”
Context: Chapter 1 of Joel prophesies a severe locust plague which would, among other things, destroy the grape crop from which the wine was made.
Analysis: There’s no alcohol message here, but there’s an anti-drunkard undertone.

Joel 3:3, “They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a harlot, and sold a girl for wine that they may drink.”
Context: Most of this chapter prophesies judgment against the nation that conquered Judah (the southern half of the kingdom of Israel). This nation, Babylon, sold Jewish children into slavery in return for wine and prostitutes.
Analysis: Once again, alcohol is not the focus. God is angry at Babylon for having such little regard for His children’s lives that they would throw them away in exchange for pleasure.

Amos 6:6-7, “…who drink wine from sacrificial bowls while they anoint themselves with the finest of oils, yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.”
Context: Chapter 6 rebukes the complacency of the people of Israel during a time of prosperity.
Analysis: In addition to the drinking of wine, this chapter also lists lounging on couches, eating lambs, and playing the harp as elements of a hedonistic lifestyle that distracted the Israelites from paying proper attention to God.

Micah 2:11, “If someone were to go about uttering empty falsehoods, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ such a one would be the preacher for this people!” (NRSV)
Context: Micah prophecies against Israel prior to the northern Kingdom’s fall to Assyria. This was a period in which the entire nation paid little attention to God.
Analysis: Hmmm. Do you think a prophet promoting wine and beer would be popular today? Maybe not among Christians, but I’m sure everyone else would like him. The point of this verse is that the people only wanted to hear prophecies of prosperity and God’s favor, not the realities of His anger over their godless ways.

Habakkuk 2:15-16, “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk, so as to look on their nakedness! You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup of the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.”
Context: This prophecy is directed toward the nation of Babylon, which would soon conquer Judah.
Analysis: The drunkenness and nakedness is an analogy of how Babylon abused its neighbors.

Zechariah 9:17, “For what comeliness and beauty will be theirs! Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine the virgins.”
Context: Zechariah prophecies to the Jews after their return from the Babylonian captivity. In this chapter, God’s prophecy is one of a bright future for Judah.
Analysis: Wine is mentioned in a positive light, and it is associated with prosperity.

Alcohol (Every Verse Bible study) – Part 2

[To read this study in its entirety, please go to the Bible Studies page on this website and download the PDF.]
Matthew 11:18-19, “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, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard; a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Context: Jesus is saying that the religious leaders of His day rejected both the ministries of John the Baptist, who fasted and abstained from feasts and from drinking alcohol, and of Jesus, who did not fast during His ministry, attended feasts, and drank wine. Either ministry would have been an acceptable path to knowing God, but the religious leaders remained unwilling to change their ways by accepting either one.
Analysis: The fact that John the Baptist and his disciples abstained from wine proves that others in Jesus’ day believed alcohol consumption to be a sin. The Pharisees also thought it inappropriate for a holy man to drink wine. That’s why they called Jesus a drunkard. Jesus openly defied this man-made standard for holiness and showed everyone that a holy man follows God’s standards for holiness, not man’s. God’s standards require that we love others, not that we follow man-made rules about what to eat and drink.

John 2:9-10, “…the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.’”
Context: This is the last verse of the story of Jesus’ first miracle, in which He turned water into wine at a wedding.
Analysis: This story does not say that Jesus drank wine at the wedding, but the fact that He created it for others proves that He allowed its consumption. What’s even more remarkable is that He turned water into wine at a wedding, an occasion in which people tend to over-indulge. This may indicate that Jesus permitted drunkenness on special occasions, much like gluttony is permitted at a feast. This approach is consistent with the Old Testament, in which God denounces drunkenness in conjunction with other indulgences (like music, lounging on couches, and gluttony) that lead people to fruitlessness and self-destruction. God permitted these pleasures at weddings and appointed feasts, but He opposed indulgence in pleasure as a way of life.
If we accept this interpretation, we are free to occasionally have a few too many drinks, but we must take care not live a life of pleasure-seeking in which we waste our time on alcohol, TV, movies, sports, fishing, and other hobbies. Christians who abstain from alcohol, but allow entertainment to dominate their lives, anger God far more than Christians who consume alcohol, but do some good in the world in Christ’s name. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the pleasure of alcohol that holds us back or the pleasure of gardening, video games, or shopping for clothes, all are unproductive for Christ. In biblical times, people didn’t have all the fun hobbies and activities that we have today, so they would entertain themselves by getting drunk. Today, we can waste our lives on pleasure without ever tasting alcohol.
Many not-one-drop-of-alcohol Christians have said that this wine that Jesus created (as well as the wine that He drank in other verses) was unfermented grape juice. Not only is there no evidence whatsoever to support this claim, but in this verse, the master of the banquet refers to Jesus’ wine as “good wine.” He says that when people have had too much good wine to drink, then the cheap wine is served. In other words, people eventually become too drunk from the good wine to be able to taste the difference when they drink the cheap stuff. So what kind of wine contained alcohol leading to drunkenness? The good wine! What kind of wine did Jesus create? The good wine! There’s a huge taste difference between alcoholic “good wine” and unfermented grape juice. The master of the banquet would have been disappointed with the grape juice.

1 Corinthians 5:11, “But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even eat with such a one.”
Context: In this chapter, the Apostle Paul addresses the matter of a Christian who was having sex with his stepmother. The members of the Church had apparently found this behavior to be acceptable, so Paul is understandably upset. He reminds them that he had previously instructed them not to associate with church members who practiced various sinful ways.
Analysis: Simply another example of how God is opposed to a lifestyle of drunkenness.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Context: In chapter 6, Paul writes to the Corinthian church for believers not to sue each other or continue wronging and defrauding one another. Paul then again lists some of the practices in which we wrong other Christians.
Analysis: How do we wrong others when we abuse alcohol? Ruined marriages, drunken-driving accidents, abusive parenting, lost jobs, fighting, etc. Alcohol abuse is a serious sin, but that fact never convinced God to forbid moderate alcohol consumption.

Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Context: Paul instructs these Christians to follow the ways of the Holy Spirit rather than follow the desires of the flesh. These fleshly desires that he lists are the equivalent of animalistic selfishness—doing whatever feels good without regard for the negative effects that such behavior has on others.
Analysis: Drunkenness is cited as one of the many ways in which we lose self-control and succumb to the desires of the flesh. Notice that disputes, which are common among Christians, especially between members of different denominations, are on the same level as drunkenness.

Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit.” (NRSV)
Context: In chapter 5, Paul encourages the Ephesians to live according to God’s will and discourages them from giving in to their selfish and destructive desires.
Analysis: In verse 15, Paul advises the Ephesians to make the most of every opportunity. He then follows by discouraging drunkenness here in verse 18. Being alert and active enough to take advantage of ministry opportunities is impossible when we indulge in recreational desires. Again, he refers to drunkenness, not moderate alcohol consumption, as debauchery—a lifestyle of indulgence.

Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore, let no one act as a judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things of which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Colossians 2:20-23, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit to decrees such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Context: Paul says to the Colossians in Verse 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ,” as he warns them to avoid man-made rules that serve no purpose. Paul spends most of Colossians refuting a heresy that likely included aspects of Gnosticism (a religion that believed that the spirit world is good and the physical world is evil; therefore, Gnostics could not believe that the Son of God would dwell in evil human flesh).
Analysis: The “drink” mentioned in verse 16 is most likely alcoholic, since cultures and religions rarely regulated non-alcoholic drink. Paul makes it clear that such regulations are of no value.
Paul could have done what many modern-day Christians do by telling the church that it’s okay to promote these man-made alcohol consumption rules as a part of Christianity, but he didn’t. God doesn’t want us to play it safe by erring on the side of too many rules. He wants us to be free from rules that originate from anyone other than Him.

1 Timothy 3:2-3, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money.”
Titus 1:7, “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain.”
Context: The Apostle Paul gives advice on what type of character is best for leaders in the church.
Titus 2:3, “Older women likewise are to be revered in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good.”
Context: Paul gives instructions for the personal conduct of both young and old women.
Analysis: To become addicted (or enslaved) to wine (or any other form of alcohol) takes at least five years of abuse (2). Moderate consumption never results in addiction.

1 Timothy 5:23, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”
Context: This verse appears to be unrelated to the verses that precede and follow it.
Analysis: This is the only biblical instance in which someone is instructed to drink wine. It appears that even 2,000 years ago, people were aware of wine’s health benefits.
It’s odd that well-meaning modern-day Christians often recommend soda over wine. Soda has no nutritional value, and can only be harmful to the digestive system.

1 Peter 4:3, “For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.”
Context: Peter encourages the believers to leave their old way of life behind and live as God desires.
Analysis: The pursuit of drunkenness may be a way of life for non-Christians, but it’s not a lifestyle fitting for a Christian.

So there you have it: every Bible verse that reveals how God feels about alcohol consumption. Of these 34 verses, none prohibit moderate alcohol consumption, but 22 of them indicate that God hates alcohol abuse.
From these verses we see that alcohol abuse was as big a problem in biblical times as it is today, and that some people considered it wise to abstain from alcohol as some people do today, so we have no reason to deny moderate alcohol consumption under the claim that times have changed.

The Freedom Defeaters
How did we get from the biblical allowance of alcohol consumption to the modern-day, Evangelical church’s prohibition of it? We need to look no further than the Freedom Defeaters, which I described in the Christian Freedom study.
Many anti-alcohol Christians deny our biblical freedom to consume alcohol on the grounds that a person’s first taste of it may someday lead to alcoholism, the lifestyle of drunkenness God opposes. They say, “You can’t become an alcoholic if you never take the first drink.” That’s why I categorize this non-biblical belief as a sin-preventionism. Just as the Pharisees created religious rules to keep God’s people from coming anywhere close to sin, many churches today do the same by forbidding alcohol consumption. How did Jesus deal with these sin-preventionisms that robbed God’s people of their freedoms? As we saw in the Christian Freedom study, He opposed them and broke them in plain view of everyone.
Some may say, “Where do you draw the line between drinking alcohol in a reasonable manner and the drunkenness that God clearly despises?” It’s this desire to have a sin-boundary that classifies alcohol consumption as a measurable sin. Since God has given us no boundary between moderate consumption and drunkenness, some of us create our own boundary at the starting line by prohibiting the consumption of any alcohol. Why does God leave us without a sin-boundary? Since God “is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart [Hebrews 4:12],” He draws the line based upon our intentions, not our deeds. Two people could drink the same amount of alcohol, one because he wants to get drunk, and the other because he is thirsty, and God would count the first act as sin and the second as permissible.
As we saw in the Old Testament, gluttony also counts as sin. Most churches ignore it, because they cannot prohibit the eating of food, since we need food to live. This inability to set a sin-boundary doesn’t make gluttony any less of a sin in God’s eyes, however. To be free of gluttony, we must exercise self-control. To many Christians, self-control equals abstinence, but that’s not how God sees it. To Him, we exercise self-control when we enjoy good things in moderation, and alcohol is one of those good things.
Some Christians deny moderate alcohol consumption, because they believe that God is pleased when we forsake pleasure. That’s why alcohol abstinence is sometimes a penitent deed. As I stated before, we never have to give up a non-sinful pleasure to please or appease God, because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins perfectly justifies us in God’s sight. Now that we are justified, we are to become more like Jesus, and Jesus consumed alcohol moderately.
Some churches want Christians to abstain from alcohol as a means of wearing the Christian uniform, an outward appearance that makes one’s Christianity clear to others. They believe that a Christian who refuses to drink alcohol in a public setting will serve as a witness to others. When others ask, “Why don’t you drink alcohol?” your answer of, “I’m not allowed to drink it because I’m a Christian,” is somehow supposed to make them want to become Christians. However, they usually think, “I’m glad I’m not a Christian,” when they realize that becoming one would require them to abstain from alcohol for the rest of their lives.
To the contrary, I find that drinking alcohol in moderation is a great witness to non-Christians. Their surprised reaction provides me an opportunity to tell them that Christianity isn’t a bunch of pointless rules, but that its laws are designed to prevent us from harming one another out of selfishness. Having the freedom to drink alcohol provides better opportunities to share one’s faith than alcohol abstinence does.
I’m not saying that all Christians must drink alcohol as a statement to the world that alcohol prohibition is anti-biblical. It’s perfectly okay to abstain from alcohol, just as it was for John the Baptist and the Rechabites. However, the church must stop preaching that alcohol consumption is a sin, because, first of all, such a message is untrue, and second, it keeps some people away from the faith. While we Christians might argue that knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior far surpasses any enjoyment that alcoholic drinks might provide, those who do not yet know Christ will fail to see this point. We must not place “stumbling blocks” (a term used in Matthew 18) in the middle of the road that leads to Jesus. It’s fine for Jesus to be a stumbling block to some people, as the Bible says He is, but it’s not fine for a man-made rule to be a stumbling block that trips people before they ever get to Him.

Alcohol (Every Verse Bible study) – Part 3

The Defiled Conscience Principle
Some Christians oppose moderate alcohol consumption, even though they admit that the Bible allows it. They have one card up their collective sleeve that robs us of the freedoms that God lets us enjoy. I call it the Defiled Conscience Principle.
It’s based, in part, on a verse that has become one of the most distorted and misused in the Scriptures. We need to pay special attention to it, and its related verses, by examining its context at length. Here it is:

Romans 14:21, “It is not good to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which by which your brother stumble.”
Context & Analysis: At first glance, when taken out of context, this verse appears to instruct us to refrain from doing anything that might lead a fellow Christian to sin, and that makes sense. Leading others to sin (stumble) is a sin in itself, as Jesus said, “…whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea [Matthew 18:6].” Yet we know that the law permits eating meat and drinking wine. To understand how it could have led some Christians to sin, we must examine this verse’s historical context.
Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 discuss the issue of whether or not Christians were permitted to eat meat that might have been offered to an idol (a Greek or Roman god). Some Christians ate meat while others abstained from it. Paul explains in Romans 14 that both approaches are fine, as long as God receives proper thanks. Before the writing of Romans, however, Acts 15 and 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 (which was written before Romans) addressed the same issue:

Acts 15:28-29, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourself free from these things, you will do well.”
Context & Analysis: These verses are the last part of a letter that Jesus’ Apostles sent to the early churches. This letter was written at the Council of Jerusalem, where the Apostles, including Paul, assembled to resolve debated issues within the church. The big debate was over whether or not non-Jewish (Gentile) Christians had to be circumcised, as the Jews had always been. The Holy Spirit showed the Apostles that circumcision was unnecessary.
The Apostles explain in this letter that their intent was to burden the Gentile converts with nothing more than essential practices. The practices from which they had to abstain were not random or unrelated. All practices forbidden by verses 28 & 29 were elements of the Greco-Roman worship services. The Gentile-Christians had, of course, converted from the Greco-Roman polytheistic religions, in which they worshipped such gods as Zeus, Mars, Aphrodite, and Apollo. Their worship rituals consisted of killing animals by means of strangling, drinking their blood, eating their meat, getting drunk on wine (thus, the mention of wine in Romans 14:21), and having sex with temple prostitutes, all while worshipping the statue of one of these man-made gods.
Why were these practices forbidden for those who converted to Christianity? The reason is obvious: Gentile converts who participated in these practices might have communed with their former gods by doing so and been tempted to return to them. Even if they didn’t fall away from the Christian faith entirely, they would have violated the first and greatest commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

1 Corinthians 8:4-5, “Therefore, concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and lords, yet for us, there is but one God…”
Analysis: Paul begins by saying that these Roman and Greek gods are imaginary; but even if they are real, they’re not the true God of the universe. Eating meat sacrificed to these fake gods had no spiritual effect. Christians were permitted to eat this meat as long as they didn’t do it as an act of worship.
Despite the Jerusalem Council’s orders for Gentile converts to abstain from meat offered to idols, Paul (and maybe some other Christian leaders) had apparently allowed Christians to do defy those orders. As he learned of the resulting damage to the Corinthian church, however, he may have realized that allowing meat consumption was a mistake. Remember, only Jesus was without sin. The rest of us, even the Apostle Paul, make mistakes.

1 Corinthians 8:7, “However, not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”
Context & Analysis: When people ate meat from a sacrifice in a Roman temple, they did so at a table that included a setting for the god whom they worshipped (3). In their minds, the god was with them at the table and nowhere else in the universe. Remember, they were polytheistic, so they didn’t believe in an omnipresent god who was everywhere at the same time. They were likely overwhelmed with a sense of their god’s presence more than many of us are, since we believe that God is everywhere when we worship Him.
Meat was a key element of the worship experience, because Romans rarely ate meat outside the temple, since they had no means of preserving it. Whatever meat they ate had to be fresh, and the easiest place to find fresh meat was at the temple (that’s why Christians went to the temples; they certainly didn’t go to worship). Therefore, whenever they ate meat, regardless of whether or not it had been sacrificed to a Greco-Roman god, they communed with their gods in their hearts and minds.
To compare this experience to something we encounter today, let’s consider Holy Communion. Many of us Christians have practiced it our entire lives and have had powerful worship experiences doing so. Imagine going to a non-Christian function, such a company picnic, and being served wine/grape juice in a tiny, clear plastic cup along with a little square of bread no longer than an inch. Where would your mind go at that point? Could you eat it without feeling a connection to Christ or feeling as though it’s necessary to commune with Him at that moment? Many of us could not eat that bread and drink from that little cup without communing with God in our hearts. Likewise, those who had converted from Greco-Roman polytheism to Christianity could not eat meat without communing with their former gods in their hearts.

1 Corinthians 8:9-11, “But take care, lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge, he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.”
Context & Analysis: This verse is a big favorite of anti-alcohol Christians. They take verse 10 and make substitutions by saying, “If someone sees you in a place that serves alcohol, even if you’re just having a soda, they may be encouraged to drink alcohol, and thus sin against their conscience.” So they not only forbid the drinking of alcohol, but with this analogy, they prohibit Christians from going out dancing, singing karaoke, playing pool, or doing a number of other innocent activities that take place where alcohol is served. By ignoring the original context and intentions of these verses, many Christians lay burdens upon other Christians that greatly exceed those imposed by the Bible.
Some Christians assume that these verses tell us to do nothing with which other Christians may disagree, because those Christians might be tempted to go against their beliefs and imitate us. This assumption is far-fetched. The chances of an anti-alcohol Christian changing his or her behavior based on seeing another Christian drink alcohol are incredibly slim. First of all, anti-alcohol Christians are unlikely to be found in a place that serves alcohol, since they don’t believe it’s okay to be there, so they’re unlikely to see other Christians drink. And even if they did, they’d be more likely to pass judgment on that person as a lesser Christian than they would be to follow that person’s lead. Also, most anti-alcohol Christians feel so strongly about their anti-alcohol beliefs that they’re unlikely to be swayed, regardless of what examples or contrary evidence are set before them.
In verse 9, Paul contrasts the freedom of those who are strong in faith with the temptation of those who are weak in faith. Notice here that the strong-in-faith are the can-do Christians, and the weak-in faith are the can’t-do Christians. The experienced Christians, mentored by Jesus’ own disciples, who know what the Gospel is all about, have the fewest rules to follow. They know it’s okay to eat meat. But the new converts, who may be easily led astray, feel that they have to abstain from it. Nonetheless, Paul tells the strong-in-faith to make sacrifices for the weak-in-faith, because the weak-in-faith are more likely to fall away.
Today, many churches take the opposite approach: The supposedly strong-in-faith, the leaders of the religious establishment, are the can’t-do Christians who show no mercy on the weak-in-faith—the new (and often young) believers. The strong-in-faith heap loads of man-made restrictions on the weak-in-faith, until the weak-in-faith fall away and are, therefore, “ruined,” as Paul describes in verse 11. When young adult Christians are prohibited from dancing, singing karaoke, etc, because of where alcohol is served, and all they get to do is go to prayer night, many of them fall away. They have too much energy to spend all of their free time sitting in church, sitting in Bible studies, sitting in prayer meetings, sitting and reading the Bible, sitting while talking about the Bible, etc.
Those who are strong-in-faith might argue that young Christians need not have fun, because if their faith is strong enough, they’ll realize that Jesus is all they need. This mentality burdens the weak-in-faith by holding them to the standards of the strong-in-faith, just like the Corinthian church leaders pressured the weak-in-faith to live up to their standards and eat meat without faith-damaging results. Today, the strong-in-faith need to realize that today’s weak-in-faith may fall away as a result of ultra-high standards, just like the Corinthian weak-in-faith did.

1 Corinthians 8:12-13, “And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble.”
Context & Analysis: Many anti-alcohol Christians use this verse to say that Christians may never drink alcohol, because doing so might cause other Christians to stumble and wound their consciences. This misinterpretation results from the fact that we take the words “stumble” and “wound” too lightly. They refer not to a little trip or scrape, but to something far more serious. Here, the weak-in-faith stumble and wound their consciences by communing with their former gods in their hearts when eating meat—an outright violation of the 1st Commandment. God make it clear throughout the Bible that He hates when we worship other gods. So the stumble here is not just a little trip, but a fall causing serious injury that jeopardizes the eternal life of a new believer.
The seriousness of this scenario lies at the opposite end of the spectrum from the minor issue of whether or not it’s okay to drink alcohol. These Bible quotes have nothing to do with feeling a little guilty about doing something that we used to think was wrong but now believe is right.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”
Context & Analysis: Paul again discusses the issue of eating meat offered to idols. This quote reiterates Jesus’ command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Some Christians use this verse to claim that any neutral activity is forbidden. In other words, if drinking alcohol neither helps nor hurts one’s faith, it’s a sin. If listening to secular music neither helps nor hurts one’s faith, it’s a sin. However, I have never seen a Christian apply this verse universally. If changing from glasses to contact lenses neither helps nor hurts one’s faith, is that a sin? If cutting the lawn neither helps nor hurts one’s faith, is that a sin? Of course not! There are plenty of neutral activities which we engage in on a daily basis, and God permits them. This verse does not prohibit engagement in sin-free activities. It prohibits the seeking of our own pleasure at the expense of someone else’s well-being.
When Paul writes, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable,” he means that some behaviors not forbidden by God’s law can seriously endanger someone else’s faith. Eating meat was one of these, as were lawsuits. In 1 Corinthians 6:7, Paul charges, “Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” Lawsuits were legal, but they destroyed relationships within the church and demonstrated to the outside world that Christians could not live in harmony. Unlike lawsuits, moderate alcohol consumption harms nobody’s faith or physical well-being.
These common misinterpretations of verses in 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 and Romans 14 (which I did not quote because it really ads nothing more to this issue, but feel free to open your Bible and read it) lead us astray when we are merely Bible-based rather than thoroughly biblical. But when we examine the other 34 alcohol passages, as we already have, we won’t make the mistake of building a theology out of this one example, which isn’t even about alcohol to begin with.

Universal Application
While many Christians employ the Defiled Conscience Principle when opposing alcohol consumption, no Christian applies it universally. With the many denominations and the differing beliefs among Christians today, it’s impossible to avoid practicing something that other Christians believe to be wrong.
For example, the Church of Christ denomination refuses to incorporate musical instruments into their worship services. If that’s the case, then all churches who promote the Defiled Conscience Principle when denouncing alcohol consumption should also abstain from using musical instruments in worship services. Otherwise, people from the Church of Christ might visit a church that uses musical instruments and be tempted to participate in a worship service that includes them. By participating, they defile their consciences by doing something that they had always believed to be wrong.
Here’s another example: some Christians believe it’s wrong for a woman to wear pants or shorts, and that women of all ages must wear a dress or skirt. Many anti-alcohol Christians, however, have no problem with women wearing pants or shorts. So if anti-alcohol Christian women were to apply the Defiled Conscience Principle universally, they would refrain from wearing pants or shorts, because women who think it’s a sin to wear them might be encouraged by their example and do the same. They would then sin against their consciences by doing what they had always believed to be wrong.
Don’t look at these examples and decide that you must now avoid all practices that others believe to be sinful. Before doing that, consider the example that Jesus set: Jesus was without sin, and yet He never preached or practiced the Defiled Conscience Principle. For example, Jesus openly ate without first washing His hands, as we discussed in Christian Freedom study. Was Jesus concerned that people who had grown up under the influence of the Pharisees, who had always believed that eating with unwashed hands was a sin, would be encouraged to follow His example and sin against their consciences by doing so? Of course not! Jesus was concerned with separating the Word of God from the rules of man so that God’s people could live in truth and freedom. Jesus also defied the Defiled Conscience Principle when He did good works on the Sabbath, picked grain on the Sabbath, drank wine, and befriended known sinners. By this we know that the Defiled Conscience Principle is not required by God. If it were, then Jesus would have been a sinner by defying it.
Martin Luther could not have launched the Protestant Reformation if he had obeyed the Defiled Conscience Principle. When his followers first repented of their sins directly to God, rather than through a priest, refused to pay indulgences to the church, and left the Roman Catholic Church altogether, most of them probably felt a little tweak of their consciences, because they practiced something they were raised to believe was wrong. They probably had second thoughts and wrestled with whether or not to break away from the non-biblical ways of the Roman Catholic Church. Had Luther been concerned with matters of conscience, the church could not have advanced in the direction of God’s will.
The same is true today. If we apply the Defiled Conscience Principle to all things, we can never remove man-made religious rules from the church, because any time we turn Christians from the false doctrines of men to the truth of God, some of them will feel guilty when embracing freedoms that they once thought were sins. That’s okay, however, because God wants us to be free. It’s those who wish to keep us in chains who misapply the Defiled Conscience Principle to issues for which it was never intended.

Non-biblical anti-alcohol arguments

Temptation of Alcoholics
Some Christians say we should avoid alcohol, because former alcoholics might see us drinking it, be inspired to drink it themselves, and then struggle with their addiction all over again. If we were to apply this principle universally, we would refuse to serve doughnuts and other sweets in Sunday school classes, because type II diabetics might be encouraged to eat them and suffer further complications to their health. We would have to abstain from peanuts too, because someone with a peanut allergy might see us eating them and be inspired to do so themselves, and then die from their allergic reaction. These examples sound preposterous, because they are—just like the idea that an alcoholic might return to alcoholism if we drink alcohol. It’s a fact of life that alcoholics, diabetics, and food allergy sufferers realize that they cannot eat and drink everything that other people do. We do not sin by enjoying food or drink that somebody else might not be able to have.

Alcohol is a Drug
Some people argue that alcohol consumption is a sin because alcohol is a drug. If that’s the case, then churches had better stop making coffee available at Sunday school classes, because caffeine is a drug too. Fortunately, we don’t have to junk our coffee-makers, because the Bible never opposes drugs. We have numerous drugs in our society, and only a small percentage of them are illegal. The rest of them are on the shelves at the grocery store or behind the counter at the pharmacy. Both legal and illegal drugs are harmful if abused. However, most of these drugs, including alcohol, have health benefits when used in moderation.

Alcohol is addictive
Some people argue that alcohol is addictive. But as drugs go, it’s hardly addictive at all. I’ve never known of a moderate drinker who became an alcoholic. It’s the long-time alcohol abusers who do that. Research has shown that people must abuse alcohol for more than 5 years to become physically addicted to it (2). In fact, I’ve known quite a few people who abused alcohol in college and beyond, and none of them had trouble reducing or eliminating their drinking if they did so by the age of 30. So alcohol’s minimally addictive nature is no cause for concern for those of us who obey the Bible by drinking it moderately.

Some People have a Genetic Tendency toward Alcoholism
Some might say that alcoholism is hereditary, and nobody should taste alcohol, because those with a genetic disposition toward alcoholism will be hooked on it when they do. However, recent research suggests that this genetic tendency does not create an unusually high craving for alcohol like an addicted smoker might have for a cigarette, but that it minimizes the negative effects of alcohol abuse, such as hangovers (4). So it’s just the allure of pleasure with no pain that leads to alcohol abuse, not a genetic disposition toward instant addiction. It’s no different than my temptation to eat a whole bag of jalapeño potato chips everyday. If we want to maintain or achieve good health, we have to know when to say when.
Christians who drink alcohol moderately face no risk of addiction. Further minimizing this risk is the fact that we Christians have a purpose in life. Most alcohol abusers live for the pleasure of the moment, because they have nothing else to live for. If they stopped partying, their lives would be empty. Today, we see this more than ever as the media spotlights wealthy people who live the wild life because they have no goals. They have everything they could want or need, and they have no desire to be a positive force in the world, because they have no Christian ethics. But we Christians have so much purpose in our lives that we should have no time to abuse alcohol. Also, if we seek to obey God, we will heed the 22 Bible verses opposing alcohol abuse.

Why?
It’s worth asking why God, who hates alcohol abuse, allows His people to drink alcoholic beverages at all. The Bible provides no answer to this question, and we should be content in trusting God’s decision. But the answer may very well be that God’s approach simply works best.
It’s likely that the United States’ alcohol abuse problem is the result of its anti-alcohol history. Less than one hundred years ago, alcohol was strictly forbidden in the United States. And yet, less than a century later, alcoholism in the U.S. is an epidemic. Contrast that to Israel’s and Italy’s alcoholism rates, which are among the lowest in the world (5). Both of these countries take the scriptural approach to alcohol consumption, because Italy is Roman Catholic and Israel is Jewish. Their cultures tolerate the consumption of alcohol with meals and in religious services, but oppose its abuse. They are proof that God’s approach works. America’s high alcoholism rates are proof that prohibition fails.
There may be a psychological reason that explains why the biblical approach works and prohibition fails. I call it the Forbidden Fruit Syndrome. Just as Adam and Eve thought the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden must have been something special, many Christians, raised in anti-alcohol households, feel the same way about alcohol. When parents teach that alcohol consumption is a big deal, whether it’s a great big deal or a terrible big deal, it becomes a big deal in the minds of their children. While some of these children choose to never taste alcohol, others succumb to the allure of the forbidden fruit and are controlled by it, because it was such a big deal in their minds all along.
Compare this to the household in which I grew up. My parents rarely talked about alcohol. They would buy a bottle of wine for New Year’s Eve, drink half of it, and let it sit in the back of the refrigerator until the next New Year’s Eve, when they would finish it. The message that my sisters and I received was that alcohol was no big deal. Our parents even let us have some wine, so we could see for ourselves that it was no big deal. While I’m not a child psychologist, I believe that my parents’ approach toward alcohol is the best approach. If parents glorify or condemn alcohol, they run a greater risk of their children becoming alcoholics, because they make alcohol consumption a big deal in their children’s minds.
Another reason for America’s high level of alcohol abuse is the church’s failure to promote moderate drinking. In the eyes of the Evangelical/Fundamentalist church, we sin whether we drink two ounces of wine or chug a gallon of beer, because once we fall off the purity wagon into the abyss of sin, the degree to which we sin is irrelevant. To them, a person cannot drink moderately and be in good relationship with God. So when many Christians drink, they have no reason to exercise self-control, since they believe they are already in sin.

Designed for Alcohol
It may be that God allows alcohol consumption because He designed humans to ingest it. I can’t help but think back to the mulberry tree my parents had while I was growing up. As I approached the tree, I saw mulberries in varying degrees of ripeness. If I ate one that was too light in color, it would be sour and bitter, because it wasn’t ripe yet. If I ate one that had reached a solid shade of purple, it would taste just right, because it was ripe. However, if I ate one that had a dark purple color, it would taste like wine, because it was too ripe and had started to ferment.
Few people today experience what I experienced, because they go to the grocery store and pick out the best fruit. If the fruit is too ripe when they attempt to eat it, they throw it away. Throughout history, however, humans haven’t had this luxury, because food was scarce. Avoiding starvation has been one of mankind’s greatest challenges. So people had to eat whatever fruit was available, not just perfect fruit. By eating fruit that was a little too ripe, they ingested alcohol that resulted from fermentation. A significant percentage of the fruit and fruit juice consumed by humans throughout history has contained alcohol.
God designed us to benefit from a diet that included fermented fruit. How do we know this? We know it from the overwhelming number of studies revealing that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes. I won’t bore you with overwhelming evidence, but here are three examples:
• “A National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study asserts that ‘The totality of evidence on moderate alcohol and CHD (coronary heart disease) supports a judgment of a cause-effect relationship…there are cardio-protective benefits associated with responsible, moderate alcohol intake.’”
• “The Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study of over 44,000 males found moderate alcohol consumption to be associated with a 37% reduction in coronary disease.”
• “A recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal found abstainers’ risk of stroke to be twice that of moderate drinkers.” (6)
By these few examples, we see that moderate drinking is the healthiest approach to alcohol consumption. Isn’t it amazing how these medical studies perfectly align with the biblical approach to drinking? God knows what’s best for us, after all! The man-made religious requirement of total abstinence from alcohol is damaging to our health. So if we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” perhaps we should recommend moderate alcohol consumption to our neighbors, not abstinence.
Bibliography

1. Prof. David J. Hanson, PhD, Puritans to Prohibition (Potsdam, NY: 1997-2007) http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/FunFacts/PuritansToProhibition.html

2. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.2008) http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-251753/alcoholism

3. The Roman Empire in the First Century, (Washington, D.C.: Devillier Donovan Enterprises, 2006)
http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/worship.html

4. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.2008) http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-251753/alcoholism

5. Encyclopedia Britannica Online (Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.2008) http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-251753/alcoholism

6. Prof. David J. Hanson, PhD, Alcohol and Health, (Potsdam, NY: 1997-2007)
http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/AlcoholAndHealth.html