Our Sunday school class got into a good discussion this morning about the biblical qualifications of deacons (1 Timothy), and invariably the discussion turned towards two of the qualifications: “the husband of one wife” and “not being given to much alcohol”. I support our pastor and our church 100%. I also support a literal interpretation of the Bible, and I understand its intent regarding deacons. On a personal level, however, I have concerns about no divorced men being deacons, concerns that I think need to be addressed. There is a stigma towards divorcees in today’s church that does not seem to be fair.
1. There is blame on both sides in a failed marriage, but what if the wife was the main instigator of the divorce (by her having an affair, etc.)? What if the husband tried many times to change his wife’s mind, but she would not reconsider? Should this man be forever barred from being a deacon?
2. There are plenty of men who have been married to the same woman for decades, but they mistreat their wives, abuse their wives, and are unfaithful to their wives. No divorce, but not much else to brag about either. Does this man make a better servant than a remarried man who has a Godly relationship with a second wife?
3. The deacon position is a servant position in the church, nothing more, nothing less. Should other roles in the church, i.e. teacher, worship leader, prayer leader, etc., require no divorcees?
4. It is said that in the typical church, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. The divorce rate for church members is 50%. Can the church afford to write off 50% of its potential servant pool?
I also have questions about the consumption of alcohol by Christians. The Bible is clear that drunkenness is a sin, but the consumption of small amounts of alcohol (wine, beer, liquor) from time to time seems to be a personal conviction. Perhaps that is how it should be, but also keep in mind that it is impossible to be drunk if no alcohol is ever consumed. Perhaps the most damaging question that one can ask about alcohol consumption is: Why should a committed Christian need to drink alcohol at all? As someone in the class astutely put it – there is a lot of bad that can result from alcohol consumption, but nothing good. Nevertheless, the defenders of periodic alcohol consumption offer various reasons that alcohol may be beneficial:
1. The taste. Really? At best, alcohol is an “acquired” taste. I can think of no one that took their first sip of beer, wine, or alcohol that said: “Man, that’s good stuff”. And yet, with other kinds of drink (teas, sodas, juices) we do not seem to exercise the same patience level. If there is a certain type of tea, soda, or juice that we don’t like, then we don’t drink it again. We don’t give it enough time to be an “acquired” taste. Why does alcohol merit so much patience?
2. Health reasons. This is even more of a stretch than the taste defense. In the 21st century America, when we have clean water, an abundance of food and dietary supplements, and people live to be 80 to 100, do we really rely on alcohol as a health supplement? If yes, then I have some oceanfront property in Kansas to sell you.
3. It fills a void in my life. As a committed Christian, with God’s word, the Holy Spirit, a physical family, and a church family, there is a problem somewhere if you must resort to the mood altering affects of alcohol for satisfaction in your life.
4. It helps me relax. Ditto what was said in point #3.
In short, the farther you get into the argument, the more you realize that there is no valid reason for a committed Christian to drink alcohol. Well, maybe there is one reason: some of us just can’t shed the high school philosophy that alcohol helps us to look cooler and more mature.