Is Drinking a Sin?
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Romans 14:2-3
Every once in a while, I’ll find myself in the company of those who are drinking. If they know my story – and this might be all in my head – there is occasionally some discomfort on the part of those drinking. I don’t drink alcohol and I don’t mind if others do, but my abstinence, along with my history with chemicals, seems to make others uncomfortable.
I’ve been there. Before I got sober, I drank, but I didn’t like to do it around those didn’t. I had a problem with chemicals and those who abstained shown a light on my problem. There are of course, many who deny or remain unaware of their problem. There are also, however, those who drink who don’t have a problem at all. I have many friends who seem to be able to have a drink without one turning into twelve.
So, who’s right? Am I right in believing I shouldn’t drink? Are others right in believing they can? Are some wrong in drinking when they, in fact, have a problem? Of course. All of those options can be true. Alcohol can be fine for some and profoundly destructive for others.
This seems to be what Paul said in today’s passage, even though he wasn’t specifically speaking of alcohol. In the narrative, Paul said that as followers of Christ, we must be sensitive about the convictions of others when it comes to gray areas. There are absolute doctrines that we must agree upon, but there are also those things that may be right for some people and wrong for others.
If I’m at a restaurant with friends, I don’t mind if those who don’t have a problem with alcohol have a drink. I certainly hope they don’t mind when I do not. If I’m in a recovery meeting however, I’d mind it a whole lot if someone cracked open a beer. If a friend’s drinking caused someone else to struggle, then I would likely ask the friend to abstain.
The difference is in our history, environment, and our specific God-given convictions. If it’s a gray area, but God has made it clear to us that we shouldn’t do a thing, then it’s not gray for us. That doesn’t mean however, that we should be judgmental, imposing our black and white on those around us.