The Southern Baptist Convention, which continues to discover new ways to promote the agenda of conservative populist groups within their circles, approved a resolution this week on the consumption of alcohol. The messengers to the annual convention dealt with fifteen resolutions this past week, including one on immigration and another on the environment, demonstrating that “hot buttons” often dominate conservative Baptist life. But it was the resolution on alcohol, and the debate surrounding it, that caught my attention.

The alcohol resolution was the most debated of all at the 2006 convention. This is most definitely not the first time this subject has taken center stage for Southern Baptists. It really serves to remind us that Baptists and abstinence have a deep historical, and contemporary, connection. I grew up in this setting and was thus taught from earliest remembrance that alcohol was a great evil and we must oppose it to be good Christians.

It is important to understand that the resolutions of the SBC are not binding on member churches. But they do have an effect, often an adverse one. An amendment added to this resolution also passed stating that the SBC is against the election of Baptists who consume alcohol from the convention’s board, committees and other related entities. Those who favor this statement argued that the abstinence position preserved Christian purity and testimony and would not put a “stumbling block” in the path of others.

The SBC has approved 57 resolutions against alcohol since 1886. One could almost say these Southern Baptists have alcohol on their minds a lot of the time. One leader referred to Baptists taking “the high road in our walk with the Lord Jesus.” This means, by obvious deduction, that anyone who does drink takes “the low road.” I grew up in a congregation that took this stand but many of the deacons and leaders did, in reality, drink. There was never any serious attempt to enforce any of this strong rhetoric in most cases.

Tom Ascol, an excellent Christian man and a leader among Calvinistic Southern Baptists, voiced opposition to the resolution by citing Jesus’ actions at the wedding in Galilee. Another pastor argued that the measure was “a position . . . contrary to what the Bible teaches in the flexibility of the scriptural admonitions as they relate to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.” Yet still another pastor, whose father died of alcoholism, spoke against the resolution saying: “the Bible teaches . . . flexibility . . .” with regard to admonitions about the consumption of alcoholic beverages.   

I think the most telling statement of all came from Jeff Young, pastor of Corinth Baptist Church in Ravenna, Texas. (I have never understood why anyone named a church after the biblical Corinth!) Young noted that older members of the SBC had won a battle for the Bible as “authoritative and sufficient, but when we pass extra-biblical resolutions such as this, we pull the rug out from underneath that teaching.” Well said Jeff!!! I sadly doubt, however, that you will be heard in the higher echelons of the SBC when those who control the politics of the present entity are so sure of their views on almost every issue that they debate these days.

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  1. Steve Scott June 16, 2006 at 3:41 pm

    “…these SB’s have alcohol on their minds a lot of the time.”
    I think they’re setting their minds on earthly things (Col 3). It’s funny that when you take Colossians 3 out of its chapter 2 context (where NOT touching, handling, etc, it taught against) the opposite doctrine can result. Abstentionists and prohibitionists are the worldly ones. Not those who abstain for personal conscience’s sake of course, but those who hold it as a doctrine for everybody else. Beware those artificial chapter divisions!

  2. Jeff Richard Young June 19, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Dear Brother John,
    Thanks for the kind words. We have much work to do in the area of biblical instruction before our SBC can get right on this issue and others. It is a great privilege that God in His grace is allowing us to help teach His Word to our denomination.
    Love in Christ,

  3. Joel Maners June 23, 2006 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for speaking out on this. I don’t know what’s worse, the resolution on alcohol or the lack of public opposition to it. The resolution accomplishes nothing but divisiveness and strife among brohers.

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  6. Avoiding Evil August 16, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Alcohol and the SBC

    During the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 13-14, 2006 the convention voted overwhelmingly to adopt this resolution on alcohol: Resolution No. 5 ON ALCOHOL USE IN AMERICA WHEREAS, Years of research confirm bibl…

  7. Avoiding Evil August 16, 2006 at 11:28 am

    Alcohol and the SBC

    During the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 13-14, 2006 the convention voted overwhelmingly to adopt this resolution on alcohol: Resolution No. 5 ON ALCOHOL USE IN AMERICA WHEREAS, Years of research confirm bibl…

  8. Avoiding Evil August 16, 2006 at 11:41 am

    Alcohol and the SBC

    During the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 13-14, 2006 the convention voted overwhelmingly to adopt this resolution on alcohol: Resolution No. 5 ON ALCOHOL USE IN AMERICA WHEREAS, Years of research confirm bibl…

  9. follower of Christ April 28, 2007 at 1:44 am

    Alcoholism accounts for less than 7% of the American public, Gluttony (obesity) accounts for 60% of the American public. IF we are going to draft a resolution, lets address one that effects 60% of all believers and non believers,that is directly scripture addressed as a “NO” in the bible.
    Gluttony seems to be something that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins…but for some reason gluttony is accepted or tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette, but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table to the point that they feel like they are going to explode. This should not be! Especially when obesity now affects nearly two thirds of our population, and is a much bigger problem for believers and non believers than alcohol itself.
    Proverbs 23:20-21 warns us, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 28:7 declares, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, “put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”
    Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger), and unable to keep our mouth from gossip or negativ natures . We are not to let our appetites control us, but rather we are to have control over our appetites. See Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:2, 2 Peter 1:5-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9, and 2 Corinthians 10:5. God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and even pleasurable. We should honor God’s creation by enjoying these foods, and by eating them in appropriate quantities.
    Perhaps this resolution needs the following amendments? ………
    WHEREAS, Years of research confirm biblical warnings that obesity/gluttony leads to physical, mental, and emotional damage and death (e.g., Proverbs 23:; and
    WHEREAS, Obesity and gluttony use has led to countless injuries and deaths on our nation’s highways, and at home, in the work place and at at church and on the mission field; and
    WHEREAS, The breakup of families and homes can be directly and indirectly attributed to Obesity by one or more members of a family that died as a direct result of obesity ; and
    WHEREAS, The use of junk food and non healthy nutrious products that causes obesity as a recreational substance has been shown to lead individuals down a path of diebetes, heart dieses, and other great health risks; and
    WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of junk food and non nutrional food based on a misinterpretation of
    “well gluttony cant be as bad as smoking and drinking”
    RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of junk food and harmful food products
    RESOLVED, That we urge that no one be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any entity or committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that is obese (40 pounds or more overweight)
    RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to take an active role in supporting legislation that is intended to curb diets that cause so much harm to our bretheren; and be it further
    RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to be actively involved in educating students and adults concerning the destructive nature of obesity and be it finally
    RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat obesity problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence of poor nutrition habits and encourage local churches to begin and/or address this biblically-based issue that is directly addressed in scriptures as a sin.

  10. Emil March 6, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I am not a Southern Baptist; there is beer in my refrigerator. And, I agree that gluttony is bad. BUT we don’t worry about people driving who weight 50 lbs more than they should. I have not heard about people eating a big meal and then beating the tar out of their children when they get home.
    So, there seems to be a difference between alcohol and gluttony that some of your readers have missed.
    (I am also normal weight; as men’s clothing has come to reflect the obesity problem, I have had difficulty finding trousers that fit properly. So, I have a personal reason to dislike the upward trend in men’s weights.)

  11. florida rehab April 24, 2009 at 10:12 am

    People who are suffering from alcoholism should also be treated with respect and understanding, even though they have taken the “low road”. For they are victims of addiction that needs adequate treatment in order to be alcohol-free.

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