We visited a new church yesterday. It was pretty interesting - we weren't there for 30 seconds in our seats when announcements were made - the first of which being that there was a petition in the back of the church for anyone interested to sign to support prohibiting the sale of alcohol in that town, about 30 minutes south of us. Kendra and Allan just started to laugh. Let me just say - I believe that the church, seeing the adverse affect that alcoholism has on the family, the community, etc. has every right to take a stand against the sale of alcohol in their county - the same way I would take a stand if they opened an adult book store in my neighborhood.
I didn't see anything wrong with this church encouraging members to sign this petition as their consciences lead them. I just don't think the church (in general) needs to behave as if alcohol is the primary culprit - when the primary culprit is the sin nature. Take a walk down the hall of any hospital and tell me that chocolate cake and tobacco use is not doing any damage. But instead of doing spiritual warfare against the enemy and the nature of sin that dwells in the heart of each individual - we attack a behavior. I know the battle will never be won this way. Think of how Nathan approached King David about his transgression with Bathsheba. He did not shake a finger at his nose and preach on adultery. He did not post an announcement in the local newspaper to shame David. Nathan told a story that pierced the king's heart. That heart-changing moment took David from a place of unrepentant sin back to being the man after God's own heart. Can we get a witness church? Can we learn?
What I also don't like is for those people who see the cultural pitfall of alcoholism - and the effect it has had and then use scripture in a way that supports their righteous cause. I don't believe for one cotton pickin' minute that Jesus drank unfermented grape juice only. Perhaps he did right after the harvest when the first grapes were crushed - but just based on common sense, and mathematical equations - the Last Supper took place many months after the grape harvest. Without refrigeration, it is impossible to think that juice was un-fermented.
A word study on the word wine in the New Testament translates to the Greek word - oinos. It literally means wine. It is the word used for the wine at the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. It is also the word used in all the gospel's analogies of putting wine into new wineskins - as the fermentation process occurs the skins must be stretched, which is why you do not put new wine into old wineskins. It is also the word used in Luke 10:34 where the "Good Samaritan" found the man beaten and left for dead - and poured oil and wine on his wounds. If the wine was used for antiseptic properties, doesn't it stand to reason that it would have been necessary for it to be fermented?
This is what bothers me the most - that no matter how good our intentions, the word of God cannot be twisted to suit our cultural agendas. Every study I have ever attempted on the subject leads me to the same conclusion. I have heard it said more than once that people want to get as far away as they can from God and still be able to be right with him. I would say that the rules are what put us in that shape. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. These are the words of Jesus. (Matthew 22:37) Anything outside of that is man's attempt at cleaning up something only God can clean, and it is the way of the Pharisees.