March 17, 2009
The shifting views about alcohol among clergy.
In the upcoming issue of Leadership (in print mid April), we'll hear from a number of pastors - including Craig Gross, John Burke, and Matt Russell - who are committed to taking the gospel to people with addictions.
We're also featuring a couple of articles about how pastors can and should deal with their own addictions.
One article I suspect will get people talking is Eric Reed's report on clergy alcohol use. Here's a preview: Some younger pastors in traditionally teetotalling denominations are beginning to view bans on alcohol use as out of date. Is their so-called liberty in Christ simply an excuse for bad behavior? Or are the old timers adding laws to the gospel?
Mark Driscoll has thought the issue through (probably because the Pacific Northwest has more breweries than people) and argues that responsible alcohol use is thoroughly biblical.
John Piper disagrees. "I choose to oppose the carnage of alcohol abuse by boycotting the product. Is it really so prudish to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker?"
No, I suppose not. But others see the issue as less cut-and-dried. More on that in April.
Our twin concerns of alcohol and addiction come together in a new online resource from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Rethinking Drinking is an interaction diagnostic tool that helps users determine whether they have a drinking problem. It presents lots of useful information in plain language and with pictures and graphs - information about the signs of alcohol abuse, resources for help, and even a "pros and cons" chart to help you decide whether to change your drinking habits. So if you're an imbiber, check it out here.