Many people who agree with us on the foregoing matters
yet disagree with our standard of abstinence from the
nonmedicinal drinking of alcohol. They argue that wine was
used by God's people throughout biblical history and that it
is therefore wrong to impose a standard of abstinence on our
"Impose" is the wrong word. We are a fellowship of people
who voluntarily abstain from alcoholic drink. Those who wish
to be communicant members with the right to vote and, in
the case of men, be voted into office obviously must agree to
We abstain for testimony's sake. Leaving aside the
considerable exegetical controversy as to whether the Bible
does in fact sanction the use of alcoholic drink, there is good
reason for the temperance stand. This is a case where our
abstinence is a step to protect our testimony and enlarge our
usefulness in gospel witness.
Our country is sinking in an ocean of alcohol. This is the
major form of drug addiction in the land. Alcohol is killing its
millions. To seek to bear an effective witness to this drink-sodden
generation while we ourselves indulge is akin to preaching to a
drug addict while we use marijuana, "in moderation" of course!
After all, it is nowhere specifically prohibited in Scripture!
We abstain out of love for the brethren. Many people in our
churches have been saved out of alcoholism. We take Paul's
words very seriously: "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to
drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or
is offended, or is made weak" (Rom. 14:21). We believe that
Christians' indulgence in alcohol is very definitely a source
of stumbling and offense to those whom the Lord has saved
out of utter bondage to drink--as well as to the many who are
still enslaved by it.
Paul lays down the same rule. There are things that we may
personally and narrowly consider lawful to us but that are not
expedient and are not for the edification of others (1 Cor. 10:23).
With that in mind Paul lays down this rule for God's people:
"Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth,"
or welfare (v. 24). That is a command. It is an ordained rule
or standard. We believe it makes it incumbent on us, faced
with the utterly incalculable devastation caused by alcohol,
to separate ourselves totally from it unto the Lord. And it is
unto the Lord that we do this. This is no bitter legalism. It is
an expression of our love for the Lord, for His testimony, and
for the welfare of others.
God commended abstainers. It has become popular--for
everyone from secular writers to Roman Catholics to some
Calvinists--to belittle and vigorously condemn those who take
our position. That does not concern us in the slightest. When
Jonadab the son of Rechab entered into a covenant to abstain
from drinking wine and commanded it to his sons, he was not
condemned by God, but commended. His sons were not mocked
as a bunch of embondaged legalists, but were held forth as a
good example by the Lord (Jer. 35:5-14). We believe abstinence
for the reasons we have cited still has His commendation.
By abstaining we express our liberty, purity, testimony,
and community. We enjoy life. We are not afraid to see the
world in which we live as God's world, to be used though not
abused. We rejoice in the truth of what is called "common
grace" and can therefore happily receive all the relative good
that has come to us through unsaved men as the provision
of our loving God. Our standards are not standards of
bondage but expressions of our liberty, purity, testimony,
and community--because they tell the weakest saint among
us that we care enough for him to banish even the possibility
of our causing him to stumble.