A new concept that I have encountered since moving to Texas is "dry" counties where alcohol sales are prohibited. It is served in some restaurants, but not sold in stores. There are, however, liquor stores built at the edge of the county, making alcohol only slightly more difficult to obtain. Many pastors in our area are rallying to keep this county dry. There is a petition to put the issue up for a vote that is circulating in the county, and the list of those who have signed it will supposedly be published in the newspaper.
This morning we discussed the issue a bit in Sunday School. I remember something the pastor said about a month ago - in essentials unity, in non-essentials, peace. This is not an issue upon which our salvation hangs, and as such would qualify for the non-essential category. Alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible, although God's word clearly forbids drunkenness. I understand completely that as believers that we should stand for righteousness and against wickedness. The alcohol is not the evil thing - but how people behave because they overindulge. I see gluttony as a rampant sin that permeates the body of Christ (four fingers pointing at myself), and yet outlawing chocolate cake will do little to induce righteousness. I don't think you can legislate morality. The difference is that you do not become intoxicated if you eat chocolate cake, and do foolish things that you later regret. It pretty much ends with regretting the chocolate cake. Drunkenness on the other hand lowers inhibitions and makes you far more vulnerable to other sin - you name it.
My husband who grew up in a dry county pointed out that living in a "dry" county seemed to increase the incidence of drunk driving. Those desiring to purchase alcohol would head out across the county line on Friday and Saturday nights to drive-thru liquor stores and start drinking on their way back home.
There are uses for alcohol other than "partying" or intoxication. I have had more than one doctor recommend drinking a small glass of wine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even pre-term labor. (I was in the final trimester and was having some miserably unproductive contractions.) I drink alcohol on a rare occasion, and feel no conviction against doing so. As a Christian, my biggest concern is causing someone who has a weakness towards drunkenness to stumble if they should see me buying or drinking alcohol, so I drink in extreme moderation.
The issue here has become quite heated. This week's newspaper is full of letters from readers, the majority of which are against the sale of alcohol in this county. There is one zealous pastor who takes out huge ads in the paper who seems to be provoking more discord than stirring the hearts of the community towards godly living. I wonder at that, and what the point might be in publishing a list of names that are already on public record. Jesus did not publish the names of the long list of men associated with the woman at the well - that would have been more the style of the Pharisees. I don't know what the right answer is - but I do know that making laws won't help us clean up those whose lives have been destroyed by alcohol. Christ alone can make that difference.