Americans have always been ambivalent about alcohol.  In the early days, when our country was first settled, beer was a common drink among many of the early settlers.  Additionally, early farmers soon found out that their crops such as corn could be distilled to make whiskey, allowing them to maintain the cash value in their crops when it was difficult to get their crops to populated areas before spoilage occurred.  In fact, you may remember one of the early challenges to our new country which George Washington had to face was the Whiskey Rebellion in which farmers rose up and armed themselves in resistance to a new tax on whiskey that was enacted by Congress under the newly ratified Constitution.  The farmers, many of them Revolutionary War veterans, claimed that they were fighting for the same principles which they fought the Revolution, i.e. taxation without representation.  Of course, they did have representation in the form of their elected representatives to the Senate and House of Representatives, but in the early history of our country, there were times in which the elected representatives seemed to give more support to the wealthy and to the highly populated areas than to farmers.

In any case, the rebellion was put down peacefully by George Washington riding at the head of an army of 13,000 militias raised by several states.  The farmers dispersed before the army arrived and 20 leaders of the rebellion were arrested and tried with all being later acquitted or pardoned.  This would not be the last time that our nation would be ambivalent toward alcohol.  In time, the Progressive Movement working through an arm of the movement, the Anti-Saloon League, coordinated anti-alcohol sentiments in various Protestant congregations, leading to Prohibition.  While this movement was very well organized, it did not have unanimous support from the American people.  This fact would become very evident in time as the law was widely ignored, and demand for alcohol was easily supplied by the wily bootleggers who carried moonshine to the various distribution points in their souped-up cars.  The bootleggers often easily outran the police, partly due to their cars which were more powerful than those the police drove, and partly due to fancy driving skills of the bootleggers, which would, in time, lead to the founding of stock car racing.

Many people falsely believe that the Bible clearly prohibits alcohol, but what the Bible has to say about alcohol is more complex than that.  While it is true, there are some verses which suggest that we might abstain from alcohol in order to avoid being a stumbling block to others who are weak in the faith (Romans 14:14-23).  But beyond this moral position, we are not specifically prohibited from the drinking of alcohol.  This choice is a matter of conscience between you and God, who gives you much freedom but may prohibit certain things for you that are not prohibited to other Christians (Romans 14:1-4).  Moreover, there are verses that counsel against drinking strong drink or even being drunk, suggesting that it is better to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).  However, there are also places where the Bible permits the consumption of alcohol for those that are suffering (Proverbs 31:6-7).  Additionally, the use of wine is recommended for settling the stomach in the case of stomach upset (1 Timothy 5:23). 

In the end, the decision to drink alcohol or to abstain will be a personal choice for each Christian.  In making this choice, though, we must be careful not to judge others who have arrived at a different decision in keeping with their relationship with God.  We are not permitted to make this choice on behalf of others, nor to judge them or the quality of their relationship with God based on what we have decided in our lives.

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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