Pastor: Does drinking disqualify pastors?

Photo: Unsplash/Kelsey Knight
Photo: Unsplash/Kelsey Knight | Photo: Unsplash/Kelsey Knight

While pastors should be careful with drinking alcohol, a full ban on the practice is not necessary, according to a Minneapolis pastor. 

David Mathis, executive editor of and pastor at Cities Church, wrote an article titled “Does Drinking Disqualify a Pastor?” in which he cited multiple passages of Scripture to argue that people “who stand against the ancient attempts to teetotalize the church stand on the side of the angels, and against the teaching of demons.” 

“Psalm 104:14–15 celebrates God’s good gifts in creation, including bread and oil and 'wine to gladden the heart of man.’ Proverbs 3:10 mentions ‘vats . . . bursting with wine’ as a blessing, not a curse — as a promise to those who honor God, not an evil,” wrote Mathis. 

“John the Baptist chose the lifestyle of the ascetic, while Jesus came eating and drinking, and both were wise and righteous (Matthew 11:18–19; Luke 7:33–35). For his first miracle, of course, Jesus made wine from water (rather than the inverse), and Paul instructed his protégé to ‘use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments’ (1 Timothy 5:23).” 

Despite this, Mathis noted that when it came to the Bible’s position on drinking alcohol, “the warnings far exceed the commendations.” 

“That doesn’t mean we should ignore the clear commendations. But it does mean, all the more, that we cannot ignore the warnings,” continued Mathis.

Within Christianity, there is no consensus among churches as to whether it is acceptable to drink alcohol. Some churches go as far as to use grape juice instead of wine for communion.

Patrick Nelson, president of Dordt Theological Seminary, told The Christian Post in an interview last year that although "the Bible does not expressly forbid the drinking of alcohol," it "does forbid us from getting drunk from the drinking of alcohol."

"Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11) so it's safe to assume he probably consumed wine himself, which was a custom in his day. However, he was also very adamant about Christians not giving in to drunkenness," explained Nelson at the time. 

"Drunkenness and addiction are sins in the eyes of Lord and its effects can be devastating not only to the person but those around them as well."

Others, among them influential California-based Pastor John MacArthur, have called it “puerile and irresponsible for any pastor to encourage the recreational use of intoxicants — especially in church-sponsored activities.” 

“The ravages of alcoholism and drug abuse in our culture are too well known, and no symbol of sin's bondage is more seductive or more oppressive than booze,” said MacArthur, as quoted by Shane Idleman in a column published by CP in 2017.

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