25
Feb
08

Why Does Derek Webb’s “Mockingbird” Rub Me the Wrong Way?

mockingbird.jpgAbout a year or so ago, singer/songwriter Derek Webb made his album “Mockingbird” available for free download for a limited time. If you do not know his name, he plays guitar for Caedmon’s Call in addition to having a thriving solo career. His primary purpose for this was to get this album with its deep, personal subject matter into the hands of more people in order to get more folks thinking about the topics within the album’s tracks.

The album’s 11 tracks deal mostly with social conscientiousness and social responsibility in light of the Christian paradigm. This is an idea I can get behind because somehow good works, charity, and the like have been hijacked by liberal secularism and the church, in this respect, has gone the way of the dodo, generally speaking. GoodDerek Webb works is more than just being nice to people or saying “please” and “thank you.” Doing good works involves expending your talents, time, and energy on something or someone that can not benefit you in return. In other words, there is no return on investment (at least not a tangible one). Webb speaks to these types of issues on “Mockingbird”. Songs such as “Rich Young Ruler” speak of how rich we are in the west and it is so difficult to see poverty though it is all around us. And our riches can sometimes provide so much comfort that it is hard for us to think about doing anything about it.

But Derek goes even further and in my opinion gets a little off track. He even attacks warfare (no pun intended). Now that last sentence may sound strange and I in no way enjoy war or the idea of war. However a person who is willing to say unequivocally that all war is all bad all of the time is not being honest with himself. The song “My Enemies Are Men Like Me” declares “peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication; it’s like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution.” It goes on to suggest that war only hurts and never helps. Being that this album was released in 2005 one can not help but think of the American war on terror when hearing the lyrics of this song. Also I think of the great public support the American military received during WWII. But let me go on.

Another poignant moment on this record is the song “A New Law” which in my opinion is the best crafted song on “Mockingbird”. With it’s tongue-in-cheek tone “A New Law” questions Christian knee-jerk reactions to certain ideas and behaviors. Many Christians, according to Webb (and I agree), seem unable to understand or handle the freedom we have in Christ. They, like old Israel, simply want to know the regulations they must follow, to follow them, and not worry about the rest. Many Christians do not get what the apostle Paul is saying in Romans 7:1-6, or what the writer of Hebrews is conveying in chapter 12 verses 18-24.
Webb sings:

Don’t teach me about politics and government
Just tell me who to vote for

Don’t teach me about truth and beauty
Just label my music

Don’t teach me how to live like a free man
Just give me a new law

I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
So just bring it down from the mountain to me

I want a new law
I want a new law
Gimme that new law

Don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
I prefer a shot of grape juice

Don’t teach me about loving my enemies

Don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
Just give me a new law

So what is it that makes me so uncomfortable about this album? Many of the ideals discussed are ones that I want to see take root in my own life. But there is something in some of the songs to which I can not quite say “amen”. I see contradictions and biblical ideas taken out of context. Does Webb oppose all war at all times? How can that be? Should all nations never fight another battle? The problem is that wars are not started by governments or nations with good intentions. It is the Husseins, the Hitlers, the Napoleons that start wars. Should good men sit and do nothing? Was Great Britain wrong for waging so fierce a war with Germany? Belligerent nations do not love peace. If a man threatens my family will I not fight him? Indeed I would, even to the death. If a nation aggressively attacked the United States thus endangering its citizens, how would we respond if the president, the commander-in-chief did nothing. What if, as the bullets were flying and the foreigners were storming the beaches of California or South Carolina or Florida, our president went on television and declared “My fellow Americans, we will not fight back this enemy because ‘peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication.'” The thought is inconceivable. But is this what Webb is asking of us? Indeed God has allowed and even used war throughout biblical history. War, like a firearm, can not be evil by itself. It is the manner in which it is used that makes it evil. To fight off an enemy for one’s family’s sake is noble. To pick a fight because you do not like the way another man looks is evil, however Webb does not seem to differentiate. He simply paints war as something that good people are expected to avoid. Indeed good people want to, but what can they do when evil people come calling? I believe some of the sentiments of “My Enemies Are Men Like Me” throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Then as I mentioned before, “A New Law” sardonically states “don’t teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice” and I agree that Christians should learn to understand liberty and moderation instead of weighing one another down with man’s rules, but I think Webb overstates the point without proper clarification. I can not help but recall Paul’s discussion of freedom in I Corinthians 10, especially verses 23-33: all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. I avoid alcoholic beverages and I counsel other Christians to do the same. But it is not because of some outdated or fundamentalist rule that I do so. What I would say in response to this statement of Webb’s is that I live in the conservative south. I understand that most other places alcohol in moderation is viewed as being as any other drink. But here in the Bible belt Christian’s are equated with teetotalers. If a local preacher, who was known to be a preacher, walked into a bar, sat down, and ordered a drink (though he was moderate and had only one uninhibiting drink) others who saw him would have one thought: hypocrite! “Look at that preacher. I wonder what his congregation would say. He tries to be so holier-than-thou but he’s just like the rest of us. He’s nothing special.” The disparaging remarks and rumors would go flying. I do not drink alcohol because it would hurt my witness. If a person in middle Georgia knew I went to church and then saw me in a bar that person would think it scandalous. That is simply the nature of the southern culture in which I live. But thankfully I do not care for alcohol anyway, so that makes it all the easier for me to be more concerned about my witness than about bucking traditions and popular opinion. I do not care about those things; I care about spreading the gospel of Christ. Now one thing Derek and I could agree on is that I would never judge a brother for moderately partaking of alcohol. I do not judge Derek for doing so (however I do wonder why Christians who drink feel such compulsion to defend it). For me it is all about avoiding “even the appearance of evil”. The point of the song would have been better served if this line had been omitted.

All ranting aside I believe this is a great, well-written album. With the exception of a few moments such as I have addressed here, the lyrical content of “Mockingbird” make it a very challenging work of art. But I am disturbed by some of the blanket statements and what I perceive as misapplications of Jesus’ teaching. But I of course often find myself at the mercy of my white male republican outlook on life. It can cause me to look at a homeless man and see a bum who should get a job. It causes me to look at a drug addict at the end of his rope and see a person who is reaping what he has sown and he should have made better decisions earlier in life. I know these statements sound cold, but I am just being honest. I have not learned adequately enough how to love as Christ loved. Perhaps the parts of this album that I find disturbing are simply challenging me to move beyond my current comfort zone and level of maturity. But the jury is still out.
Josh H.

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19 Responses to “Why Does Derek Webb’s “Mockingbird” Rub Me the Wrong Way?”


  1. 1 zeez
    February 25, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I agree with you 100 percent except for your second to last sentence. What do these things you’ve mentioned have to do with loving as Christ loved? The lyric that you quoted that irks me the most is “peace by way of war is like purity by way of fornication; it’s like telling someone murder is wrong and then showing them by way of execution.” especially the last part. I have no respect for anyone who does not believe in the death penalty as a way of curbing society’s evil. Why should we have to pay to feed a raping murderer? Or a child molesting murderer? Why not go ahead and send them to Hell, they’re going there anyway.

  2. 2 Matt Stout
    February 25, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I really like that album, but you really hit the nail on the head concerning things that rub me the wrong way about it. I think ol Derek got a little reactionary against the war on terror and forgot about a the possibility of a just war.

  3. February 25, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    zeez,

    I appreciate your honesty, though I disagree with your thoughts on the death penalty. Your last statement is a bit judgemental, and I believe sending someone to hell is not our duty but the Lord’s. Murdering is the same as adultery, lying, and coveting. Matt 5:43-45 says this:

    43″You have heard that it was said,(B) ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, Love your enemies and(D) pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

    Luke 23:39-43
    39One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

    Personally, I have a hard time reconciling capital punishment with the words of Jesus. Loving as Christ loved means doing everything in love. How is putting someone to death showing love?

    Your thoughts?

  4. February 25, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Clay,

    Loving as Christ loved means doing everything in love. How is putting someone to death showing love?

    Did Yahweh not love as Christ loved? Mosaic law (presumably given by Yahweh) prescribed death for non-violent homosexuals and adulteresses. I know that this was the old covenant, but the principle behind those commandments was nowhere shown to be rescinded. Life is sacred, not invaluable; taking human life is not an absolute evil but something you have to answer to God for.

    Romans 13:4 says, “For government is God’s servant to you for good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” Even if you deny the obvious meaning of “the sword” as referring to lethal force, can it possibly mean anything “loving” by your definition? Why is death somehow an ultimate evil, whereas locking them up for life is somehow a positive thing? And we’re just talking about physical death here: if love cannot be reconciled with death, you must be a universalist.

    Now, should we exult in the death of the wicked? No, as God says that He does not do that (Ez 18:23). But, as with God, we don’t pretend that it’s never necessary.

  5. February 25, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Clay-
    I really am sorry if my comments offended you- I figured you’d read it and respond since I know you like Webb, but I had to comment. I feel as strongly about being pro death penalty as you feel against it. It’s a good thing that neither of our opinions will keep us from getting to heaven.
    Ok maybe I was a little harsh about “sending them to Hell” because I can’t say that there’s no way they could repent and be saved. I’m a little blunt sometimes. If it’s God’s plan that the murderer in question be saved, I’m sure that He’d give ample opportunity for repentance before the impending death penalty. I’m curious- do you think that even the government has no right to defend it’s citizens from murderers? I’m not saying that “the Christians” should go out and kill murderers for punishment. God will judge them how He sees fit (to Him all sins are the same) but obviously different sins have different consequences here on earth. Why do we even have laws if we are not going to be able to enforce them? God can judge all sins alike after death, but we cannot judge all lawbreaking alike.
    In the old testament, the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” mandate was given to the civil magistrate and none of Jesus’ teachings has removed government’s right or responsibility in regard to punishment for laws broken.
    Please feel free to respond.

  6. February 25, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Wow! I should write more sensational posts like this one. This is great conversation.

    Matt,
    I agree, this is a good album. I think sometimes I have been saved too long. What I mean is it’s easy to forgot what it was like living in sin and to be forgiven. Several songs on this album reminded me of what I was saved from. And though I have never been a beggar physically, spiritually I was bankrupt and Christ came to me and gave me a new life. Those parts of “Mockingbird” I enjoy.

    However, you are right, Derek seems to be either overstating his stance against violence or else he has not properly studied history (biblical and secular alike). There are just wars and there are just fights. Adolf Hitler did not wage a just war however on the other side, the Allies were defending the free world–a very just cause indeed.

    @zeez: the comment about “love as Christ loved” was in reference to my harsh, unloving attitudes toward homeless people and drug addicts (mentioned in the last paragraph).

  7. February 25, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Oh, and please ignore my sister. She out-Coulters Ann Coulter. 😉

  8. February 25, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Steve,
    Thanks for your vote of confidence (hardyharhar):).

  9. February 26, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Just to add my 2 cents about the death penalty and other such matters, I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone at a Christian retreat about war, and I said that God sent people to war in the Old Testament several times. To which she responded, “Oh, I don’t pay much attention to the Old Testament.” Well, this shocked me. I mean, I understand we’re living in the New Covenant, but that doesn’t mean that God’s character has changed. If it was in God’s character to send His people to a just war to claim the things He promised them in the Old Testament, it’s in His character now. God is unchanging and just, and just because Jesus came and talked about forgiveness and grace (which I am behind 100%) it does not mean that God stopped caring about justice.
    As far as Derek Webb’s lyrics go, the more I think about it, the more I think that peace by way of war is more like purity by way of marriage, in some cases. Purity for purity’s sake can be a waste of sexuality, if you decide that sex is bad all the time. Purity is best realized when you stop being chaste for the person you’re supposed to be with. I mean, if you got married and still clung to the same idea of purity you did before you were married, it would be entirely inappropriate. At the same time, peace for peace’s sake is sometimes a let down to justice, if people allow atrocities to go unpunished just so they can maintain ‘peace.’ Unless justice is being pursued, peace is a sham.

  10. February 26, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Steve,

    Thanks for responding. Your input is great.

    “Little Christs” is what we are. We should live as He lived. In his sermon on the mount, he gave us these Beatitudes (Matt 5:7,9):

    7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    Since Christ fulfilled the Law, became the law, and points us to a new way of living, we should live according to the way he lived… a life of love and mercy and truth. No?

    zeez,

    Not offended at all, we just disagree ;). And for the record, I’m not defending Derek because of who he is and the role he’s played in my life. He just happened to write about a subject I’m passionate about.

    Let me address this. I’m assuming we’d all agree that protecting an unborn child’s life is essential. That would make us pro-life. Also, we’d probably both agree that we should protect the elderly or terminally ill who can no longer protect or speak for themselves. Well, taking it a bit further, you can’t be pro-life and pro-death. We are to protect the sanctity of life because we bear the image of God.

    There is a big issue with the accuracy of the capital punishment system. There are many documented cases (I’d have to look them up for you when I have a bit more time) of prisoners being put to death and having later been found innocent of the accused crime, posthumously. If one innocent is put to death, the entire system is to blame, right? That’s unacceptable. The state claiming to be sovereign over the lives of its people sounds a lot like the early Roman persecution of Christians. They had the control over who was put to death for what reason. This is not our place as humans. God is a Sovereign God and that should be left to him alone.

    We should look at the non-violence of the New Testament and contrast it to the early OT, then look how the OT points toward Christ through the Prophets. Then again, look at the life and teachings of Christ. This is how we should live.

    A friend of mine told me this: To put someone to death is to sacrifice human life. Theologically, you’re saying that a big sin requires that person be killed for justice. And to say that, says that when Christ came as the ULTIMATE sacrifice for the sins of humanity, it wasn’t enough.

    More thoughts?

    This is good. I need to be prodded like this. Sorry if this seems a bit scattered… I tend to write as I think about it.

  11. February 26, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I’m gonna chime in here and make a few observations.

    Well, taking it a bit further, you can’t be pro-life and pro-death. We are to protect the sanctity of life because we bear the image of God.

    This statement confuses the issue. When one says he is pro-life (i.e. anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia) he means he believes in protecting the sanctity of innocent life. But a convicted murderer is not innocent life.

    There are many documented cases (I’d have to look them up for you when I have a bit more time) of prisoners being put to death and having later been found innocent of the accused crime, posthumously.

    Yes, and no doubt there are many who are guilty of violent crimes yet they get away. What would be the solution to that? No human system is perfect but we have one of the best as far as justice is concerned. But we can not scrap the whole system or render it powerless on account of the fact that it does not work perfectly everytime.

    We should look at the non-violence of the New Testament and contrast it to the early OT, then look how the OT points toward Christ through the Prophets. Then again, look at the life and teachings of Christ. This is how we should live.

    I am not sure what this statement is getting at. But I can say that somehow folks began at some point viewing the New Testament through rose-colored glasses. It is hard to back up the claim that the New Testament is non-violent. Consider these points:

    1. 1. John the Baptist described to the Pharisees and Sadducees what the messiah’s coming would be like. He warned them that there was wrath to come telling them that Messiah will baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:11-12, emphasis mine).”
    2. 2. The first century Christian Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property and brought part of the money to the apostles claiming that it was the whole amount. But for lying to the Holy Spirit Peter scolded Ananias saying “‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.’ When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him (Acts 5:3-6).” And when his wife came in later Peter rebuked her and “she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband Acts 5:10.”
    3. 3. The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians and part of that epistle addressed some who were of the circumcision (i.e. Jews) who were telling the Galatian (gentile) Christians that they must follow the Law and be circumcised, etc. in order to be saved, even under the new convenant. This was turning out to be an unsettling thing for the Galatians and was undermining Paul’s teaching. The epistle makes it clear in chapter 5 that Paul did not know who it was that was doing this, yet in his zeal he declared “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves (verse 12)!” Not much of a pacifist.
    4. 4. In Matthew 24 Jesus (the same Jesus who preached the beatitudes and “love thy neighbor”) is telling his disciples what he meant when said that every stone of the temple would be thrown down (Matthew 24:1-2). In chapter 23 he (quite violently) describes the desolation that He was to bring upon Jerusalem and apostate Israel, that all the innocent blood that had been shed would come upon them. The same conversation is described in Luke 21 in which Jesus states “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The fulfillment of what Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, and Mark 13 and Luke 21 took place in 70 A.D. when the Roman armies led by Titus surrounded Jerusalem and took it. With this act God (or Jesus, one in the same) poured out his wrath (in Old Testament fashion) on Jerusalem. The city and the temple were destroyed and many lives were lost. But these things happened according to the words and will of the Lord Jesus.
    5. My point in mentioning all of this is not to say “Hurrah! Three cheers for violence!” But rather I wanted to show that the new convenant is not some utopia where nothing bad ever happens and we all just get along. God has not stopped punishing sin. And the God-ordained responsibility placed upon the civil magistrate in Leviticus 24:17-22 and reinforced by the New Testament by passages like Romans 13 has not been done away with. Even Jesus taught that a man must pay for when he has broken civil law (Matthew 5:25-26).

      Let us be careful to read passages and interpret holy scripture in light of the immediate context, original authorial intent, and audience relevance. Then we can more easily discern which commands are meant for individuals and which are meant for governments.

  12. February 26, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Clay,
    Follow your logic, Clay. Are you a univeralist? An anarchist? I reiterate: did Yahweh not love as Christ loved?

    You see no distinction between civil government and interpersonal relationships? Jesus made a demarcation in John 18:36: He told Pilate that if His kingdom were intended to be realized in the physical, He would have His servants fight — notice that He wasn’t being a pacifist for the sake of love, but because it would violate the distinction between political and spiritual government.

    Think of it this way: Jesus lived “a life of love and mercy and truth”, no doubt. Now, had He been a judge in a court of law, would He have let rapists off with a sermon and a smile?

    As Matt pointed out, “love” doesn’t necessarily mean “license”, which is what you’re advocating in effect. You also haven’t made the case that capital punishment is an absolute evil or a violation of Christ’s mercy any more than any other punishment. If I catch someone breaking into my house or about to attack my wife, should I say, “Go in peace”? I doubt you would be consistent there. 🙂

    Once again, how do you take Paul’s statements about the need for governments exercise of “the sword” in Romans 13?

    A friend of mine told me this: To put someone to death is to sacrifice human life. Theologically, you’re saying that a big sin requires that person be killed for justice. And to say that, says that when Christ came as the ULTIMATE sacrifice for the sins of humanity, it wasn’t enough.

    Christ didn’t just die for capital crimes — He also died for petty theft. Does having the civil authorities penalize that theft make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice? I can imagine you will say, “No, but they can’t kill people,” but if you do you will need to provide a Scriptural or philosophical rationale for making this distinction.

    Now, is the death penalty a practical problem? There are innocents who have died the death penalty, and I agree that’s a bit of a problem in practical terms. But not on moral grounds; war, likewise, is sometimes necessary, which our friend Mr. Webb doesn’t seem to acknowledge. How about you?

    Thanks for the discussion. It’s quite interesting seeing how you think! I haven’t had these types of conversations since I was an undergrad 🙂

  13. 13 Matt
    February 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    you guys have way surpassed my ability to chime in, but I wanted to say what great debate this is. I have my own thoughts, and I’d love to type them, but I’ve got 2 chilli dogs waiting to be eaten! Thanks for great discusion!

  14. February 28, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I’m not good at these kinds of debates…

    However, Josh, if you ever get a “Best Cast Member of Saved by the Bell” debate (or the equivalent) going, I’ll be all over it.

  15. March 1, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Sorry for the delay, my wife’s family has been in town and my time for blogging has dwindled. 10 free minutes have come available tonight.

    Alright. The record stands that I am neither an anarchist nor even remotely close to a universalist. I’m quite firmly Reformed. I love a government that protects liberty and I have no trouble submitting to their laws which do not forbid what God commands (Acts 4:18-21).

    Did Yahweh love as Christ loved? I would say yes, and his commandments to us were: 1) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your south, and with all your mind.” 2) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These are Christ’s words to the Pharisees, And Yahweh. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:40).

    Unfortunately, I’m out of time 😉 I’ll be back tomorrow for a bit more on the rest of your statements. Hope that’s ok!

    Clay

  16. 16 Ross
    April 8, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Re: “don’t teach me about moderation and liberty, I prefer a shot of grape juice” and your “alcohol in Georgia” comment:

    I think we’ve gotten the wrong argument in our head as believers. The saints of 200 years ago would laugh at the total condemnation of alcohol. In fact, that giant of western Christian philosophy, CS Lewis, was an avid drinker of scotch whiskey.

    The problem is that Christian drinkers live in two extremes: 1) your extreme, the “counsel all to avoid” extreme 2) the “I drink because I have liberty and if you tell me not to you are unenlightened” extreme.

    I take high school kids to restaurants for Bible Study and will sometimes order a beer. Why? Because youth needs to see thier role models enjoying alcohol in a moderate, responsible way. If the ONLY way that youth is exposed to alcohol is in the binge drinking culture of high school and movies, young people will either be overly harsh against those who partake in alcohol or will themselves emulate the binge drinking.

    I don’t know that this has hit the south yet, but in Oklahoma, there’s a resurgent culture of moderate drinking among dedicated conservative Christian adults. And that’s good!

    We don’t NEED alcohol to prove to the world that Christ is relevant and cool. That would be a ridiculous position. But in the same way, we don’t NEED abstention from alcohol to live righteously and walk with Christ. That position would be equally, if not more, ridiculous.

    The point is: if you want to drink and it is legal and you can drink without sinning, drink! If you cannot, don’t! But for every person caused to stumble by a drinking Christian I could show you five caused to stumble by a Christian judging them for thier drinking. Better to show responsible righteousness, whether drinking or not, than to substitute abstention from alcohol for true righteousness.

  17. April 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    @Ross: you have some good points. I can’t stand when Christians take it upon themselves to created the 11th Commandment–Thou shalt not drink alcohol. That is why I am not so concerned when a person drinks in moderation. There are 2 instances that will get my back up: 1) a Christian drinks just to prove he can (you alluded to this as one of your extremes), 2) a person drinks just to get drunk–Prov.20:1.

    Now concerning your other points: where I live, if I were in your position, I would greatly hesitate drinking a beer when taking a teenage Bible study group out. First of all, the parents would have a heart attack (especially if I drove any of them home after drinking said beer).

    Now surely you must agree that some people are more prone to addictions than others. You may be able to have one beer a week and have no problem. What about the teenager who, following your example (which is an admirable example), takes up drinking beer but never knows when to stop? Before you know it you have an alcoholic on your hands.

    I know, I know: that is a completely made up scenario but it’s possible. Do you ever take the time to point out to them the fact that you are drinking in moderation? Do they know that is what you are doing? If not, then for all they know you drink all the time.

  18. April 8, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Ross,

    My take on this is, what’s the point? Taking back “beer drinking for Christ”? I have no problem with enjoying fine wines every now and again – both for the stomach and for the taste buds. But neither of those reasons would prompt anyone to start drinking beer. Rather, drinking beer is a cultural thing, and a cultural thing Christians have no vested interest in Christianizing; our culture doesn’t drink beer in moderation, but to get drunk or at least get a buzz. Any state that chemically alters one’s senses, even “a buzz”, is walking a thin line that’s not worth the risk. Beer is most often an acquired taste, so if our Christian youth are not going to get drunk, why in the world even bother with drinking in moderation? Are you going to somehow convince a drinking unbeliever to convert on the basis that he doesn’t have to give up drinking as long as he moderates it, despite the fact that this means giving up the primary joy of drinking? People are worried about giving up drinking either 1) because a hard line teetotaler stance might ostracize them from their friends and 2) they enjoy getting wasted. The second is true and unavoidable, but the first is by no means inevitable if we they learn to exercise self-control without condemnation.

    Fast forward 30 years later when marijuana is legalized: will we have Christians advocating moderate smoking (“just for the buzz”)?

    To me it’s not a matter of sin, but of sense. I’d rather train my kids to not waste their time trying to identify with a degenerate aspect of our culture. More valuable (and possibly more difficult) still, we can teach them to stand up to culture and abstain from its pleasures without condemning those who don’t. If you tell most non-Christians that you don’t drink because drunkenness is a sin, that marginalizes you. I want instead to show them wisdom. Drinking is a waste of money, and not something worth learning to enjoy, especially since there are no redeeming qualities to it. I don’t view drinking beer as unlawful but as unprofitable/inexpedient. If you inform people that you don’t drink because our faith teaches us that we are to maintain control of our senses and allow the Holy Spirit to remain in charge at all times, I have seen that they appreciate this stance.

    What do you think?


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