28
Feb
08

Christ’s vice squad

cigars.jpgMy wife passed along a weblog she found recently called “naked pastor” and I’m enjoying it thus far (however, she mentions she saw something on the blog about how he is trying to sell the URL/site, so who knows how much longer he’ll be blogging there). I also found the author’s profile interesting, if for no other reason than it had some thematic similarities to my own.

And then, as I scrolled down the comments to his profile, I saw one guy recently who said:

I came to the Lord later in life from a background of sin including drinking to excess and smoking. Those things and others, fell away when I embraced Christ. Jesus forgave me of all my sins. The new life in Christ is filled with joy even in the midst of crisis. Should I go back to the “pleasures” of drinking and smoking? Will that enhance my Christian life and spiritual growth?

Given that the blog author mentioned in his profile an affection for good scotch and certain tobaccos, I’m pretty sure the poster was being sarcastic and taking a snarky potshot at him. And that, my friends, is just plain wrong.

Don’t get me wrong. Excessive drinking would be a bad thing. That can get you in all sorts of trouble, and it’s symptomatic of pathology (whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual). But nothing in the author’s profile strikes me as saying, “this guy is addicted to booze and/or smoking.”

But it’s amazing how a fairly substantial number of Christians view smoking, drinking, gambling and other so-called vices as sins no matter how much or how little you partake of them. But wait, Jesus drank wine. Hell, he changed water into wine at a wedding as one of his first documented miracles. And smoking wasn’t invented in modern times, so if that’s so bad, why didn’t anyone in the New Testament warn us against using hookahs or whatever other means to suck smoke into our lungs? And aside from a couple passages that I don’t recall the location of right off the top of my head (and which if I recall are misquoted and misinterpreted anyway much of the time), I don’t recall anything that says gambling is by its very nature a sin.

The key is moderation and restraint. Booze is a good example. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, you cannot have alcohol. It simply says you shouldn’t get drunk. For good reason. Drunk people do and say things that are often not Christ-like. Hard to be a shining beacon of light for Jesus when you have a lampshade on your head and are booty-dancing with your neighbor’s wife at a party.

Several years ago, my wife and I were checking out a church and were seriously thinking about becoming members officially. It wasn’t a perfect place, but it felt good on the surface. And then as we prepared to go through the process of joining the congregation, we get paperwork that outlines all the rules of this particular denomination. And one of the clauses said that drinking, smoking and gambling were all forbidden.

We bailed on that church immediately. Not because my wife and I want a church that caters to our personal desires, but because it is inappropriate for churches to place upon us any requirements that God hasn’t put on us. You cannot just add new sins because you feel like they should be added. Jesus railed against the Pharisees and Sadducees for just that kind of crap. They made rules that they expected people to follow…and they didn’t necessarily follow those rules themselves. And their rules didn’t always have backing in God’s Word.

Let’s leave the rulemaking to God, thank you very much. The IRS tax code is bad enough, and federal, state and local laws are often filled with some of the most useless and mind-numbing laws ever conceived. That should be indication enough we aren’t qualified to add to God’s rules.

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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