We’ve all heard of the slippery slope argument—that if one were to take one step past a particular line, the downward tumble is inevitable. Sometimes we can dismiss the slippery slope argument as mere conjecture, but during last week’s trial of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (of course, it was only a Senate judiciary hearing, but it certainly took on the spirit of a trial) one particular slippery slope argument was raised. When asked if he drank alcohol during his high school years, Kavanaugh replied, “We drank beer. My friends and I, boys and girls, yes, we drank beer. We like beer. I like beer. I still like beer. I drank beer.”
After admitting to crossing the line, the slippery slope question followed, “Have you ever passed out from drinking?” Alcohol—can a little impairment cause a big slip while walking a strait line?
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. Proverbs 20:1
For quite some time, I have read in Christian magazines of the success some churches have had brewing their own beer, placing kegs outside prayer tents, and using alcohol to hang out with friends or talk to non-believers. One need only google alcohol and Christianity Today, the top results: “The Church that Drinks Together,” “A Toast to My Journey with Wine,” or “Why So Many Christians are Relaxing Over Drinks.”
Many pastors are now envisioning a church where alcohol and outreach are successful partners. Somehow, we’ve come to think alcohol will open doors in a post-Christian society. I suggest we allow the Kavanaugh line of questioning to bring us out of this stupor. Even the world knows good judgment and alcohol don’t mix.
Pairing the Spirit’s work with impairing spirits makes a mockery of the gospel. There is only one Spirit who has never caused Christ’s Bride to stumble—let his holiness set your church apart.
It’s time for a sober discussion concerning the evil effects of alcohol on our society. We have heard from Christine Blasey-Ford concerning her abuse at the hands of impaired men. Whether or not her accusations against Kavanaugh are true, we have to admit they are not unique claims. While pastors are crying out for alcohol’s freedom, how many women are crying out from alcohol’s abuse? What is alcohol’s effect on the children in our communities? The church and her ministers ought to be safe places from the tyranny alcohol brings into the world.
We can brawl all day over whether Scripture permits church leaders the freedom to drink, but consider this: the United States is wondering, “does a man who possibly abuses alcohol have the temperament to judge well?” Proverbs 31 answers the question for us, “It is not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and deprive the oppressed of their rights” (Prov 31:5).
Alcohol is not known for treating women well. Alcohol does not restore broken families. Alcohol doesn’t give wise counsel.
How much can a person take before it can be described as stealing? How many words must be false before it is considered lying? How many glances can a person make before it is better termed adultery? Slippery slope questions are always foolish. Yet, when we read Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine,” we prefer to ask “how many drinks renders one drunk?”
Jesus came so that we might have life abundantly. The picture Scripture gives of Christ is a fellow-sojourner who calls us to follow him. He is the Faithful Shepherd. By contrast, Scripture presents alcohol as dragging people away into debauchery. Alcohol is a fool’s friend and deceitful by nature.
The world is stumbling in the darkness of a post-Christian world. As it searches for leaders, it continues to find abusers.
The Benefits of Prohibition
I made a rule for myself in Middle School—never drink. Upon personal reflection, I knew I couldn’t trust myself not to slip, if I crossed the initial line. And to this day, I have never drank alcohol. My testimony is this: there is one great benefit to drawing a personal prohibition line and never crossing it—no accusation of drunken behavior will ever stand in trial against the Lord’s reputation.
The Bible makes the contrast very clear, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:18). Those who drink, their glass is always emptying. Those who walk with God, their soul overflows.
Pastor Summerville First Baptist, married to Danielle, father of four, PhD student @SWBTS, MDiv SWBTS 2012, BA Theatre OSU