I LOVE this blog. You ladies are amazing, and the fact that you are giving advice to people with a Godly spin is so refreshing to hear sometimes. I have a question for you. My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost 4 years. We are nearing college graduation, and with that comes talk about marriage. I love this man with all my heart, but sometimes I am concerned with how much he has changed lately. I know a lot happens between the ages of 19 and 23, but when we transferred schools from a private Christian school to a public university I feel like he has almost thrown all his morals out the window. We don’t go to church anymore, but we do go to a church group on campus weekly and a bible study. Now he is all of a sudden totally okay with going to bars and drinking on the weekends. This was never okay with him at the Christian school. I’ve talked to him about it, but he doesn’t think its a big deal and he agreed that if we get married there will be no alcohol in our house because I am not okay with it. I just don’t know what happened. The guy I started dating was on fire for God and now it’s just a lukewarm appreciation. I have talked to him about it, and he says he is not where he wants to be, but he is not making any efforts to improve the relationship. I don’t know if this is worth throwing away 4 years for because I don’t want to break up, but I want a man who is going to be a Godly leader of the household. I’m just not quite sure what to do with the situation.
Karen (Name changed for privacy)
I think it’s beautiful that you and your boyfriend have a relationship that is God centered. I know it’s hard to see someone change, especially when you feel like your personal convictions are no longer lining up with his as closely as they once did. I will say though, you should feel incredibly blessed to have a boyfriend that acknowledges his shortcomings and yearns to keep his eyes focused on God. In my opinion, he’s a keeper. (But I really don’t know your whole situation, so this is just a guessing game)
Now, before I give you my response… Let me give you some background info:
I grew up in a Christian home, but in my family, a casual drink for social purposes wasn’t really frowned on. My family taught us that it was fine to have a glass of wine. Even as a child, my mother had these cute mini-wine glasses that she would pour a little wine into for us kids, on special occasions.
God gives us a lot of things for our benefit and enjoyment, but we can also abuse those things. For instance, I believe food can be just as abused as alcohol. In moderation, our food brings health, but stuffing our faces brings obesity and poor health; the same with alcohol.
Proverbs 29:16 – If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit.
I personally don’t think drinking is a sin, but too much can be, because getting drunk typically leads to immoral behavior and lack of self-control. Most people don’t wake up hung-over and feel proud of their drunken exploits. Typically, we all make terrible decisions when we’ve reached the wasted stage. What I’m trying to say is that wine is not the sin, it’s the way we use it. The bible teaches moderation, and excess leads to trouble.
Isaiah 28:7 – … The priests and prophets stagger with alcohol and lose themselves in wine. They reel when they see visions and stagger as they render decisions.
Now, let’s talk about the positive characteristics of an alcoholic beverage!
Jesus Changes Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)
Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding celebration. If it were a sin, he certainly would not have done it! As the story goes, the host ran out of wine so Jesus’ mother, Mary, came to Him and asked Him to fix this problem. So, He called the servants and told them to fill six, very large stone jars, (holds 30 gallons) and instructed them to fill the jars with water. Then after they obeyed, He told them to bring a cup to the host of the Banquet. The Host marveled about the quality of the wine in his cup. He exclaimed, “Everyone usually brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best wine for last.”
Of course, people who believe all alcohol is a sin, will say something like this: “Wine did not have alcohol in it back then, it was just grape fruit juice – it wasn’t fermented.” But, they would be ignoring the line that says, “Once they had too much to drink, they wouldn’t even know that what they’re drinking is cheap!” Ha! The numbed- up taste buds were losing their judgment! Besides, who ever got accused of drinking too much grape juice at a party!? Additionally, it is a practiced technique at weddings, bars, and events, to serve the best wine first, and the worst last. Nobody will notice!
Now, if you’re not convinced there was alcohol in that wine… let’s go back to Genesis.
Genesis 9:21: When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.
In this scripture the Hebrew word used is “yayin,” which means “fermented wine, primarily from grapes.” Notice. “[Noah] drank some of its wine [yayin], and he became drunk.” If Noah became drunk, then he could not have been drinking grape juice!
Now, that said, I’d like to say what is really on my heart. I respect that everyone has their own convictions. Some people may believe that drinking alcohol is okay, while other Christians may believe it is not. Paul said that we should eat or drink according to our own conscience, as long as it is done for the glory of God (1Corinthians 10:29-31.) I think it’s important for everyone to follow their own conscience, (as long as it doesn’t go against God’s Word) and if someone thinks it’s wrong for them, they should definitely stay away from it, but, I will say, it’s important not to condemn someone else for their own personal convictions. However, I personally believe that some people are called to be vigilant about the use of alcohol, because they may either have a history of family alcoholism, or they just have an addictive personality. God may call them to never touch an alcoholic drink. That is between them and God. But for others, I think God offers wine/alcoholic beverages for celebration, health, occasional relaxation, and for emotional healing.
1 Timothy 5:23 “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”
Ecclesiastes 9:7 “Drink your wine with a merry heart.”
Psalm 104:14-15 “God gives wine……that makes glad the heart of men.”
Amos 9:14 “…….and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens and eat the fruit of them.”
Prov. 31:6-7 “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress…..”
My point is, Karen, that though it may be difficult, it is your job to care for your boyfriend and others, but it is not your job to choose their convictions or decide their conscience. As for your boyfriend, I think the only reason to be concerned is if he is getting drunk and acting immorally, or has a family history of alcoholism. But, if he is just having a drink or two, I think it’s his decision as to what is right or wrong for him.
Sometimes, when one person has a stricter moral code than their partner, and it’s made a huge issue, it can actually promote dishonesty, and secrecy. An example is in this family I know where the husband allows no alcohol in the house because he thinks it’s a sin. So, then his wife feels compelled to hide the wine that she has set aside for company, and for an occasional glass while she’s cooking. She gets caught and next they are fighting about dishonesty in the relationship, and she is feeling controlled. If you press this too hard, you may find your boyfriend lying about where he goes and what he does.
Regarding bars, I know that some are terrible, but I would not say that all bars are bad. There are some pretty relaxing wine bars, sports bars and social pubs, etc. Many people go to bars strictly to network, socialize, relax, watch a game, or play pool. The bars that are notorious for trouble and are just pick-up places, or as my brother calls them, meat factories, they are best avoided. It’s really hard to avoid all the typical places people hang out at in college town, and makes it more difficult to make friends, but the same principle applies here: If going to a bar causes you to act immorally, it’s a no-go.
Once again, everyone has their own conscience before God, but I will say, sometimes God calls us to be the light in darkness. One of my family friends was actually saved in a bar. Yes, a bar! A guy sat down at the bar with him, and over a drink, yes a drink, listened to his problems with compassion. Pretty soon, he was telling my friend about God, and later he accepted God into his heart! But please, don’t tell people that Diamond thinks you should do missionary work in bars! I’m just saying that God works in mysterious ways.
Here’s my motto: A bar doesn’t make you sin, your actions do!
So, all in all, I’m just saying to be patient with your boyfriend. It’s his conscience and his convictions you’re dealing with. If he has a heart for God and his intentions are pure, I’m sure he’ll be fine… But, if you think his character and faith is weakening – then I’d be worried.