Is This Bud For You?: Alcohol and the Christian University Student

Cedarville University’s Position on Alcohol Use

Consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in Cedarville University’s Standards of Conduct. This prohibition against drinking alcohol is articulated in the University bylaws, the faculty and staff handbooks, and the student handbook. The focus of this message is our student-related policy on alcohol use.

The student handbook states that we take a position of abstinence because “we value virtues like sobriety, self-control, and stewardship of our bodies, and because we recognize the harmful effects of substances like alcohol, tobacco, and inappropriately used drugs and medications.” The handbook also lists the following reasons for this conservative stance on alcohol use:

  • More than 70% of our students are under the legal drinking age. (I Peter 2:13–17)
  • Both the Old and New Testaments instruct spiritual leaders to avoid the use or abuse of alcohol. (Leviticus 10:9; Proverbs 31:4; I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
  • Abuse of alcohol is not consistent with a spiritually mature lifestyle. (1 Corinthians 6:9)
  • Alcohol reduces a person’s ability to make good decisions about sex and excessive use is associated with various forms of sexual immorality. (Romans 13:13)
  • Alcohol makes us less alert and diminishes self-control. (I Thess. 5:7-8)
  • Use of alcohol is listed by Paul as a “disputable matter,” and we are encouraged to exercise caution in how we approach such matters so as not to hurt brothers and sisters with weaker faith. (Romans 14)

Chapel Resource

Listen to Dr. Carl Ruby's chapel message on alcoholism from September 2008.

Annotated Bibliography

This is a partial list of resources that have helped me think through this issue. The list includes articles supporting a variety of positions on the issue of alcohol, as well as some that deal with health or legal issues related to college student drinking. Cedarville University’s position is to require that all students, faculty, staff, and trustees abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages. We take this position because we believe it is the wisest and safest approach to alcohol given the constituency of traditional-aged college students that make up over 70% of our student body. Consistent with our educational mission, we also encourage our students to carefully study Scripture and to be respectful toward brothers and sisters in Christ who have different opinions on this issue.

Alcohol – what the Bible really says. (1989). Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
http://www.wcg.org/lit/booklets/alcohol/biblwine.htm.
Alcohol in the Bible. (2008, September 19). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved September           29, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_alcohol.

Includes the most thorough description of how views toward alcohol have evolved during church history that I have found. Current evangelical views of alcohol are traced to the late 1800’s. Wikipedia warning: Content here changes daily and is not necessarily verified.
Covenant Community Church of Orange County. (1991). Does scripture permit us to drink alcoholic           beverages? Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/v2n2/ant_v2n2_issue1.html.

Great article presenting opposing viewpoints articulated by Kenneth Gentry and Stephen Reynolds.
Davis, J. (n.d). What statistics say about alcohol. Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. Retrieved           September 29, 2008,
          http://www.ankerberg.com/Articles/_PDFArchives/practical-christianity/PC1W0701.pdf.
Davis, J. (n.d). What the Bible says about alcohol. Ankerberg Theological Research Institute. Retrieved           September 29, 2008, from
          http://johnankerberg.org/Articles/_PDFArchives/practical-christianity/PC1W0601.pdf.
Driscoll, M. (2004) The radical reformission: reaching out without selling out. Grand Rapids, Michigan:           Zondervan. Available in the Centennial Library 269.2 D781R

See Chapter six for discussion on alcohol.
Dunn, J. (1974) The Christian in a drinking society. Lincoln, NE: Back to the Bible.

Dunn presents the argument for the abstentionist position, suggesting that while the Bible does not expressly prohibit all alcohol use, the “law of love” requires that all Christians abstain from all alcohol use.
Gentry, K. (2001) God gave wine: what the Bible says about alcohol. Lincoln, California: Oakdown.

This book is a definitive resource for those who hold to a moderationist position. Gentry, a graduate of Tennessee Temple University in the 1970s, is a pastor and seminary professor who is unable to consume alcohol due to a physical condition.
Gentry, K. (2003). Should Christians drink alcohol. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_print.php?112.
Hanson, D. J. (n.d). Alcohol and the Bible. Alcohol problems and solutions. Retrieved September 29,
           2008, from http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/controversies/1109209383.html.

A brief defense for the moderationist view which includes historical background on the development of the prohibitionist position. Includes a good list of notes and references.
MacArthur, J. (1993) Not addicted to wine. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/wine.htm.

While allowing that in some cultures it may be appropriate to drink wine, MacArthur argues for total abstinence as the most appropriate standard in our culture.
MacDonald, J. (n.d).Wise up about alcohol. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
           http://store.walkintheword.com/p-1032-wise-up-about-alcohol.aspx.

James MacDonald argues that the Bible allows for moderate use of alcohol, but recommends total abstinence as the best possible option for the Christian.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2002). What parents need to know about college           drinking. (NIH Publication N0. 02-5015). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and           Alcoholism. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/media/FINALParents.pdf.

Similar versions of this report have been prepared for various audiences including college presidents and residence life staff. It is a very succinct resource for information about the dangers of alcohol abuse among college students.
Piper, J. (1981). Total abstinence and church membership. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper81/100481e.htm.

Includes Piper’s justification for his personal commitment to total abstinence and his argument that a commitment to total abstinence should not be used as a test for church membership.
Reynolds, S.M. (1989). The Biblical approach to alcohol. Princeton, NJ:
          Princeton University Press. Available in the Centennial Library 178.1 R465B.
St. Johns Lutheran Church. (n.d.) Christians and alcohol: A statement of position. Retrieved September
          29, 2008, from http://www.stjohns-network.org/mediafiles/Christians_and_Alcohol.pdf.

A very good, brief article containing practical guidelines for dealing with this subject.
Task Force of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2002) High-risk drinking
           in college: what we know and what we need to learn.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Health
           and Human Services. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
           http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/media/FINALPanel1.pdf.

An excellent overview of the nature and dangers of alcohol abuse among college students.
Wallace, D. (1996) 1 Thessalonians 5:22 – The sin-sniffers catch-all verse: avoid every appearance of
           evil.
Retrieved September 29, 2008, from http://www.inthebeginning.org/theology/twist2.pdf.

This a great article on the abuses of 1 Thess. 5:22 to support a brand of legalism. Wallace is a professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Wallace, D. (1998) The Bible and alcohol. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=988.

One of the best, brief articles on this topic written by a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Whitfield, D. (1996) Alcohol and the Bible. Retrieved September 29, 2008, from
          http://wooga.drbacchus.com/bible/alcohol.html.

Excellent article!

Websites

Quotations

As I’ve prepared for this message, I’ve come across many interesting comments about drinking. Listed below are a sample of a few that caused me to think, dig deeper into the Scriptures, disagree ... and occasionally chuckle. In the end, I was encouraged to see how many of my fellow believers are thinking deeply about this issue and turning to Scripture for guidance. I’m particularly indebted to people like John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Daniel Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary, and Kenneth Gentry for their careful study of this issue.

“So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” Romans 14:22

“Alcohol works quickly as a depressant to eliminate moral restraints. The fine shades of moral restraint are among the first to become blurred. Further, split-second decisions and quick neural reflexes leading to physical action become sluggish - as well our judgment as to whether or not our critical faculties have been at all affected by our drinking.” Christianity Today, Sept. 18, 1981, p.13.

“What I choose to say is 'Stop drinking, America!' Or since America is not listening to me, 'Stop drinking, Bethlehem [Church]!' And I choose to oppose the carnage of alcohol abuse by boycotting the product ... is it really so prudish to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker?” John Piper

“In trying to avoid legalism on the subject of alcohol, I believe we have come dangerously close to promoting license ... the Bible does not require total abstinence, but it recommends it as the highest and best course.” James MacDonald

“Scripture clearly deems drunkenness a sinful state meriting God’s disapproval and anger....scripture unsparingly condemns drunkenness frequently and from a variety of angles.” Kenneth Gentry.

“All Bible-believing Christians agree that drunkenness is a sin that causes a life of misery. In addition, Christians are to obey their government in regard to alcohol consumption, which means that such things as underage drinking in America are sinful. (Romans 13:1-7)” Mark Driscoll

“Drinking alcohol is not expressly forbidden in the Bible, but drunkenness is forbidden. While there are no direct commands against drinking in the Bible, there are principles of wisdom that should be applied that would support abstinence or a very restricted use of alcohol.” Jim Davis

“In light of this scriptural admonition (Romans 14:15), care should be taken in the use of alcohol in our homes and churches. One person having trouble with alcoholism could be severely damaged by our liberty. Although I believe that Jesus celebrated the Passover as the Jews have for millennia with wine, today we use grape juice for this reason. Consideration for the weaker brother should extend to areas of conscience as well.” Jim Davis

“Further studies of church history have led me to discover that a number of God’s people down through the years have greatly enjoyed alcohol.” Mark Driscoll (As examples, Driscoll listed John Calvin and Martin Luther.)

“While I sat still and drank beer with Philip and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.” Martin Luther, as cited by Mark Driscoll

“Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women.” Martin Luther

“Some evangelicals have made opinion on liquor more important for fellowship and cooperation ... than attitudes toward the person of Christ or the nature of salvation.” Mark Noll

“The general contours of biblical teaching are that wine is a blessing from God, something to be enjoyed. But like any good gift from God, it can be abused: in this case, abuse involves addiction and drunkenness. But whenever we condemn others who are able to enjoy God’s good gifts in moderation as though they were abusers, we misrepresent biblical Christianity. At bottom, it seems that biblical Christianity has a much different face than what much of modern Christianity wears. In many respects, we resemble more the ancient Pharisees than the Lord’s disciple.” Daniel Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

Statistics

  • Eighty-eight percent of all college students use alcohol.
  • On some campuses nearly 70% of students binge drink.
  • Women are nine times more likely to be sexually assaulted if they have had too much to drink.
  • Acquaintance rape is twice as likely for college women who attend a university where binge drinking is part of the culture.
  • Alcohol is a key factor in the majority of college rapes. Seventy-two percent of the women who reported date rape were intoxicated at the time of the crime.
  • 70,000 college students are raped or sexually assaulted in situations where alcohol has been a factor.
  • 400,000 engage in unsafe sexual practices while under the influence of alcohol.
  • 100,000 were too intoxicated to even recall if they had given consent to sexual activity.
  • One drink diminishes certain driving ability—and leaves the driver feeling more confident and daring.
  • 2.1 million college students drove cars while under the influence of alcohol last year
  • 1,400 college students die each year due to alcohol–related auto injuries.
  • 97,000 people die every year in the U.S. due to issues related to excessive drinking.
  • 50% of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related. The National Public Service Research Institute estimates that 4 million people are victimized each year by the 2.6 million alcohol–related auto accidents that occur each year.
  • One third of all suicides are alcohol related.
  • Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cost the U.S. economy $40–60 billion annually.
  • One out of every three families is affected in some way by alcohol abuse.
  • 500,000 college students are injured each year while under the influence of alcohol.
  • During a typical weekend, an average of one teenager dies every hour in an auto crash. Nearly 50% involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • According to the Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, between 240,000 and 360,000 of the nation’s current 12 million undergraduates will die from alcohol–related causes—more than the combined number of students who will eventually earn MA.s or Ph.D.s combined.

Biblical References

These are a few of the passages that I studied in the process of writing this message. Some deal specifically with alcohol. Others deal with issues of Christian liberty and our responsibility to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.