Baptists have long believed that drinking alcohol is not only unhealthy and morally lax, but is in direct opposition to what God wants. Strict interpretation of the Bible is a cornerstone of Baptist belief, and they believe Scripture specifically tells them that drinking alcohol is wrong. They cite Proverbs 23: 29-35, where reference is made to how wine will “bite like a servant” and will make your mind “utter perverse things.”
Baptists Doctrine is Conservative
Baptists are a Protestant denomination, and like all Protestant denominations, they have their own beliefs concerning the practice of Christianity. They are historically a conservative group and take their commitment to living their faith very seriously. In interpreting Scripture, the Bible can be used to support either the abstinence or consumption of alcohol, depending upon which passage is chosen. The Baptists choose to follow the abstinence interpretation of scripture and, in addition, believe that the physical and emotional damage alcohol has wrought on humans is further evidence that it is dangerous and clearly wrong.
Depsite Strong Doctrine, A Debate Rages
While Baptist doctrine is universal, each Baptist church is independent and autonomous. Some pastors feel that mild alcohol consumption is acceptable, in spite of what doctrine dictates. The moderate approach to drinking by some pastors keeps an active internal debate among Baptists raging. Churches or members may be divided along these lines, with “Traditionalists” holding that any drinking is a sin and those who drink alcohol are not true Christians, and “Libertarians” arguing that Christians are allowed to drink as long as they are not getting drunk.
Other Baptist Taboos
In addition to condemning alcohol, many Baptists also decry card playing, gambling, dancing, and going to the movies. However, there is no specific doctrine against these activities. As more Baptist churches exercise their autonomy and relax their views about these issues -- taking a sanguine view of dancing or going to the movies -- their feelings about alcohol may become more relaxed as well. These attitudes, though, are the individual opinions of local pastors, and not Baptist doctrine.
The Rules Are Clear
Despite what influence modern attitudes may bring, Resolution 5, On Alcohol Use In America, which was adopted at the June 2006 Southern Baptist Convention remains firm. Drinking alcohol is not in keeping with the Baptist faith and is roundly condemned for the toll it has taken on people’s lives. It is not something that can be enjoyed casually or on a limited basis; it should be shunned altogether.
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