Wednesday, January 2, 2008

wine, anyone?

WARNING: This post may be controversial for some. I am processing my thoughts 'out loud' here, so any views expressed here may not represent or be agreed with by...well, anyone I am associated with including husband, friends, family, or church! (In other words, if you don't like what is said here, please don't hold it against them!) Discussion is welcome!

Today I'm reading Genesis 1-4, but got thinking about this topic when I was reading Genesis 3:1-3:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" (Highlighting mine)

What God actually had said was this:

Gen. 2: 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

(Notice, nothing at all mentioned about touching...)

Last weekend we had a discussion on 'drinking' with someone who felt adamantly that Christians should never drink any alcohol. The way she put it was that she just didn't understand why it Christians would think it was "fun or funny" to drink. We tried to explore how she formed this opinion; while she hadn't any particularly "bad experiences" related to alcohol (alcoholic family members, etc.) and she didn't grow up in a 'religious' home where it was frowned upon, she just felt very deeply that it was not appropriate - ever. We discussed (and it truly was a discussion - not an aruguement or anything hostile) how the Bible often refers to drinking wine and even associates it with the Lord's blessing (Ps. 104:14-14, Prov. 3:9-10). Obviously Jesus drank wine, and even provided it for the wedding in Cana (remember his first miracle?). The Bible's warnings are against drunkenness, and the love wine (Prov 21:17, 23:20).

Now obviously, there are MANY verses in the scripture that talk about wine (positively and negatively), and this is not a comprehensive discussion of all of them; my point is that clearly drinking is not completely forbidden by scripture. But what caught my attention in Genesis tonight was the way that Eve added the self-imposed rule of 'don't even touch' -when that was not God's directive. I wonder if she had made the assumption that 'touching would lead to eating' and so God must mean they should not touch either. It's kind of like that with drinking, and, depending how strictly you were raised, other things too, like dancing, and playing cards for example. Here's the rationale I grew up with...drinking would lead to drunkenness, so don't ever drink. I guess cards might lead to gambling, and dancing to, um, I mean...well, my best guess with the dancing is that it would lead to lust. (Funny, I grew up with a lot of really good cooks in my family, and we certainly never made a 'no eating' rule because it might lead to gluttony - also mentioned in the Bible!)

Now, don't misunderstand - my point in all this is not to promote drinking. My point is that I think that God wants more from us than just to make lists of 'just-in-case' rules. Clearly there are legitimate reasons for and convictions about never consuming alcohol. I get that, and I respect it. The problem lies in imposing those convictions on others when they are not actually God's guidelines (and judging others when they don't keep what we think the rule 'should be'). I think God wants us to be walking close enough to Him that we are able to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit - such as self-control, as well as using godly discernment and sound judgement. I think God is more concerned about our character and motives than our actual actions. Have you ever really thought about that? Our actions are really a result of our character and what's deep inside us . For example, lying is clearly a sin - scripture says God hates it; but what about Rahab (see Joshua 2)? Hiding spies, and lying about it! Later, James 2:25 says this act is credited to her as righteousness. Because it's not so much about the 'what' as the 'why'. Absolutely, drunkenness, lust and the like are not in accordance with the Spirit-led life. But if that is the state you end up in if you attend a party where there is wine and dancing, then I would say the issue is one of the heart much more than a need for more restrictions on what you can and cannot do. I think this is Paul's point in Colossians 2 when he says:

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

I wonder if that is the reason that God allows temptation at all. I mean, if Adam & Eve couldn't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, why on earth did God put it there anyway? I'm pretty sure it has to do with relationship - God WANTS us to choose Him, to follow Him, to be close to Him, to know His heart. He wants to cultivate good qualities in us - love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. He wants to LEAD us, day by day, moment by moment, situation by situation. It's about who/what we give control of our hearts.

Okay, okay, I'll get off the soapbox now. I'd love to hear your feedback. Do you agree (or at least see my point) or did this just rock your world, and you've determined I'm a heretic? ;) Either's what's going on in my head tonight - and so I thought I'd share it with you.

Who woulda thunk all that came out of 2 little verses in Genesis that I'm sure I've read hundreds of times!! Wow...


Laura said...

oh, i think you are definatly a heretic...
please pass the sangria ;)

Shaula said...

The church fears the gray areas and loves to make things black and white.

Bets said...

Fantastic - can I use this for small group?? I love you.