In Focus


MunnRichardAlcohol consumption is a normal part of US life. More than 70 percent of adults report that they drank alcohol in the past year.

In comparison, Salvationists pledge to “abstain from alcoholic drink.”

What are we to make of such contrast? What might be some of the faith and ethical issues involved?

Scripture records the sheer normality of alcohol consumption, especially wine.  There are examples of alcohol use in ceremonies and as an image of blessing. Jesus drank wine and created a large quantity during his first miracle. There is Biblical counsel suggesting moderation as well as examples of abstinence.

However, clear admonitions provide repeated warnings against drunkenness.

Ponder the following ethical framework:

HEALTH  Medical research is reassessing the idea of “safe levels” of alcohol consumption. Some people abstain from alcohol for maximized health.

PRINCIPLE  The alcohol industry’s negative societal impact is undeniable. The Salvation Army is aware and stands against this social ill. Some people abstain as a principled protest.

VOW  Spiritual formation will often include a range of self–denial. This reinforces spiritual value over bodily appetite. Some people abstain with a religious vow.

The Salvation Army covenant to abstain from alcohol is provided as a means to help spiritual formation.

Paul exhorts: “Do not get drunk on wine … instead, be filled with the Spirit.” — Ephesians 5:18

To this we might say, “cheers!”

by Colonel Richard Munn

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