This post is for a Biblical response to an article written by Jamie Morgan on the Charisma News website. Jamie Morgan is a woman lead pastor for the Assemblies of God, Life Church in Williamstown, NJ. The article linked above was posted on Dec 29th, 2015. My intention with writing this article is not to become an apologist for a drinking Christian community but for the purpose of addressing some of the blatantly unBiblical and logical errors that occur in this article. Another point that I want to make clear from the outset is that I have no problem at all with any Christian that has a personal conviction of abstinence when it comes to drinking. I would encourage them in their conviction of this whether they had a personal history of alcohol abuse or not. This is a Romans 14:5 and Colossians 2:16 issue, let each be convinced in his own mind.
My concern is with the complete lack of discernment that I see with Christians sharing this article all over social media. According to the article itself at the time of the writing of this post it has been shared 630,000 times. There seems to be zero recognition by many who should know better that the first concern would be that the author is a woman pastor. The Bible is abundantly clear on whether woman should be in the position of pastoring a church (1 Tim 2:12-14, 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 3:12, Tit 1:6). I am not going to go into a long treatise on this topic but the Bible is so clear on this subject it does not require much dialogue. For more on women as pastors and elders read the CARM article linked here: (https://carm.org/should-women-be-pastors-and-elders). I am not going to just dismiss the entire article because it was written by a woman pastor that would be a genetic fallacy but I will deal with her points and arguments.
The first thing that should be recognized by discerning Christians when reading any article written by a woman pastor is the author will likely have little respect for the Word of God and will be basing most arguments on pragmatic experience and an arbitrarily assumed morality instead of a clear exegesis of the text of Scripture. This can be seen in this article from the outset when Jamie states “This article is not a theological defense on the topic of Christians and alcohol (another article for another time), but it is a heartfelt plea.” Notice that Jamie is being directly upfront that in her first published article on the subject that she does not began with the Word of God but starts instead with a heartfelt plea. Her authority is not God and His Word (that is something she says she might do later) but this is what she believes in her heart. Our convictions should always begin with the Word of God instead of the heart. Jamie seems to have the cart before the horse by starting with her heart and hence the conspicuous absence of a single Bible verse in the article. Now if this was simply Jamie’s personal conviction that for her drinking was not an option and her desire was for others to see her concerns then I would have no issue with this article. The problem is that Jamie makes repeated declarative statements that imply that Christians that drink are contradicting the Bible, hindering their walk with God, tarnishing their testimony, are not sober minded, are sending the message Jesus is not enough, etc. etc.
Jamie says that the article is not a theological defense about Christians and alcohol but then continues on to make about 50 theological statements about Christians and alcohol. She would have been more accurate in stating that this article is not a “Biblical” defense about Christians and alcohol. I would definitely concur with that. The statement smacks of someone saying “I am not going to say anything about what automobile you should buy but you’re stupid if you don’t buy a Ford.”
The most fundamental error the author is making in the article is that she equates any drinking at all to drunkenness. She does not make any distinction that the Bible itself makes between drinking and drunkenness. She assumes that to have any drink at all results in a person not being sober minded. The Bible is very clear that drunkenness is a gross sin and that no Christian should ever go to that state (Rom 13:13, Gal 5:21). Paul encourages Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to have a little wine to help him with his stomach ailments, deacons are instructed to not be addicted to “much” wine (1 Tim 3:8). Jesus himself drank sour wine on the cross (Jn 19:30, Lk 23:36, Mr 15:36). Jesus used wine at the last supper (Mr 14:23-25, Mt 26:27-29). In Lk 7:33-34 Jesus contrasts himself with John the Baptist who under a Nazarite vow (Nu 6:1-4) did not drink wine but Jesus says that he did drink wine. In Lk 7:34 Jesus says the Pharisees were accusing him of being a drunkard; they could not have made the accusation had Jesus not drank wine at all. In the context we see that Jesus says that John the Baptist did not drink wine but that he himself did. In his first recorded miracle Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana (Jn 2:10-11). Jesus drank wine but as the perfectly sinless man (Heb 4:15) he was never drunk. In Jesus himself we see the distinction between drinking wine and drunkenness. The author assumes that any use of alcohol is drunkenness, this is the same error as to assume that any eating is gluttony. Gluttony is a sin but eating in moderation to provide sustenance for oneself is not gluttony.
Jamie says in the article before she gets to her 50 reasons “You have come too late to tell me it’s God’s best for a Christian to drink.” Who exactly is saying that it is God’s best for a Christian to drink? Eating pork is not a sin but I would never say it is God’s best for us to eat pork. What does this even mean?
In reason 42, Jamie say “Moderate drinking? How about moderate pornography or moderate heroin use or moderate lying or moderate adultery?” My response would be “category error much?” See what she did there, she placed moderate drinking into the category of the sin of drunkenness with no justification for the category conflation. In doing this she made Jesus, himself a sinner. Jesus drank in moderation so was he also engaging in a sin in the same category as moderate porn and heroin use? Was Paul encouraging Timothy to engage in a sin equal to moderate lying and adultery? Was Paul saying that someone could be qualified as a deacon as long as he was only a moderate viewer of pornography; as long as he did not engage in “much” pornography?
In reason 7, Jamie states “What I do in moderation, my children will do in excess.” Prove it, what justification can you provide that this statement is true? I know many fine Christians that drink in moderation and their children do not drink in excess.
I am going to refrain from addressing any more of the points but most are begging the question by assuming that any drinking at all is drunkenness. Jamie does make a few points that we should take into consideration with this topic however shouldn’t we be getting our instruction from teachers that are more sound in the Word of God? We as Christians should approach this topic sincerely and with an open heart to what God has for us as an individual and be willing to change our habits if God so presses it upon our hearts. We should however refrain from passing judgement upon others or accepting judgement from others when it comes to food or drink (Col 2:16). Good solid Christian teachers can Biblically make a case for why Christians should consider refraining from drinking but this article is not one of them. My prayer is that Christians would become more discerning when it comes to the sophistry and drivel that is coming out of the world of evangelical Christianity today and examine it and hold it up to the mirror of the unchanging and ever true Word of God.
Do you drink as a Christian? Can you go without drinking? Likely not, even though you will say you can, as do all Christians who drink say they can, but are grieved if they cannot drink. If the charge is to not become drunk, do you test yourself to see if your blood alcohol level is too high to legally drive? You may not consider yourself drunken, but does the state consider you drunk by law even though you can hold your booze?
God commands us to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not be drunk on wine. Ephesians 5. One drink and the mind of Christ is now compromised and under the influence of substances outside the purity of the Holy Spirit. Drinking grieves the Holy Spirit and lead to debauchery.
Time to stop using historical events as doctrine to justify unholy behavior. It is not a sin, yes, but are you fully given over to Christ with flesh fully crucified if you continue to drink? It is your flesh that desires it. God bless.
Did Christ then not have the mind of Christ?
“Do you drink as a Christian?”
“Can you go without drinking?”
“Likely not, even though you will say you can, as do all Christians who drink say they can, but are grieved if they cannot drink. ”
I’ve gone months at a time without touching the stuff. I definitely can go without drinking.
“…but are grieved if they cannot drink.”
Yet another non-sequitur…
Agreed, the assumption again above is that any consumption is drunkenness. Notice Alan did not deal with any of the arguments. If he is correct that any drinking at all results in not having the mind of Christ then did Christ not have the mind of Christ?
Christ did not condemn slavery, apostles did not condemn slavery. Bible only rejects treating slaves badly. So Slavery is acceptable. If that line of thinking is wrong, then using contextual examples of wine drinking to justify any alcoholic drinking today is wrong as well.
Did Jesus have slaves? Did he perform a miracle that turned employees into slaves? Did Paul tell Timothy to buy a slave to help a little around the house? Certain types of slavery are not unBiblical and are not much different than employment in a western context today. Enslaving a particular people because they are thought to be inferior humans because of their race or ethnicity is not Biblical. Slaves or servants that are paying off a debt or need the position because of a financial difficulty is not unBiblical. All servants, employees and slaves should be treated with respect and dignity as fellow image bearers of God. We have to recognize the Biblical categories for slaves and servants. African slaves in America was unBiblical because it treated an image bearer of God as less than human and acquired them by kidnapping them (a crime met with capital punishment in the OT). Your argument is a non-sequitur.
“The first thing that should be recognized by discerning Christians when reading any article written by a woman pastor is the author will likely have little respect for the Word of God and will be basing most arguments on pragmatic experience and an arbitrarily assumed morality instead of a clear exegesis of the text of Scripture.”
You lost me here. I’m all for sound Biblical exegesis and I agree a number of errors were made in the original article but to frame a response like this and then claim women in general have little respect for the Word of God is even more extreme, wrong and ungracious. The poor dears, it must be their undeveloped brains or something. Good grief.
Hmmm interesting that you had to misrepresent what I said in order to attack the argument, also known as a straw man. Where did I claim that women in general have little respect for the Word of God? I said that a woman who is a pastor has very little respect for the Word of God for to be a pastor as a woman is a violation of the Word of God. Seems logical and straight forward to me. Can you actually demonstrate the fallacy without a straw man?
Perhaps I did misunderstand, your statement is sweeping enough without my adding to it. And still wholly incorrect.
You argue that it’s ok for Christians to drink alcohol because Jesus did. Excuse me if I’m simplifying but this is not the best format for a proper discussion. This is very likely due to the historical circumstances, ie water being poor quality etc etc.
I could argue all day that the very same reason is the reason Paul forbade women to teach – in that church (Ephesus) – at that time. There are very clear indications in any decent exegesis that this was an appropriate request from Paul in the historical and literary context. It is quite clear that it was never meant to be a universal rule that demeans half of the creation of God made in His image.
There are tons of very good arguments but it just seems obvious to me. There’s a huge list of women who are bound to have taught men in the Bible. Euodia and Syntyche who “worked hard with me in telling others the Good News.” Dorcas, Lydia, or the Apostle Junius who some desperate scholars with your views have worked hard to claim was not an Apostle. Or how about Deborah the Judge who apparantly was unable to teach or instruct a man, I wonder how that worked?
Let me ask you this. Wouldn’t it be a great triumph for the devil if he could persuade half of the church not to allow half of the available Ministers to minister the presence of God into people’s hearts and lives?
My exegesis of the text stands. You have not interacted with it. So the wine for the wedding ceremony in Cana was for water sanitation? Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.” Soooo…… Roman 16:7 says to you that Junius was an Apostle? Please expound? I have no problem with women teaching men but not in the context of the body of Christ. Titus 1:5-6 says that an elder should be the husband of one wife. How is a woman pastor to be the husband of one wife? Paul appeals in 1 Tim 2:12-14 to the fall of man as the reason that a woman should not exercise authority over a man in the Church. Is there a context today that the fall of man no longer applies? Deborah was not the spiritual leader of Israel and she did not instruct men in the way of the Lord. I am not apposed to women judges, CEOs, Senators, managers, etc. The Bible is clear however in the context of the body of Christ, the Church, a woman is not to exercise authority over a man. I often hear those who reject what the Bible says about women in leadership in the church say that it only applied in the cultural context of the New Testament times, but I have yet to have anyone actually explain what that context was and why it would not apply today. They just assert it but can make no rational arguments for the assertion. Maybe you can be the first, why does the context of the time of Paul not apply to today’s context?
Romans 16:7: Greet Andronicus and Junias, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are distinguished (or outstanding) among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
I accept that is open to interpretation which is why we are able to be discussing this issue. In exegesis my preferred approach is to take the plain and straightforward meaning unless a good reason not to is evidenced. The plain and straightforward interpretation of those words is that she was ‘among the Apostles’. I’m sure you are very well versed in the various interpretations of this verse.
To answer your questions: Is there a context today that the fall of man no longer applies? Yes, partially. The church of God is the redeemed people who are to live in the pattern of pre-fall living. It is the church who demonstrates the Kingdom of God and its principles and way of living.
I disagree that Deborah was not a spiritual leader. She was a prophetess and, incidentally, a wife. One of her titles was “mother of Israel” . I’m pretty sure that implies not that she does more washing up than other people but that she was a figure that people looked up to, respected and were led by. Similar to George Washington being called “Father of our Nation”. (I’m not Americam by the way, I hail from the UK.) And what about Miriam or Anna (Luke 2:36).
Your next question was about context. I’m sure we’d agree that textual and historical context is very important. Netiher of us would want to pick one single verse and use it as a proof text of a theological position. The KKK can do that and it makes no sense. As part of proper interpretation we need to know the background and culture of the recipients and to understand why the book is being written and the concerns being addressed and then see that the verse we have fits into both those contexts and Scripture as a whole.
Your question was: What was it about the context that was peculiar to that time and not relevant to today? Pretty sure none of this is news to you but this was Ephesus, fighting the influence of the temple of Artemis and the syncretism that was infecting the church. Artemis was not the Greek Artemis (Diana the hunter) at that time although this line would become blurred, this was much more likely an ANE influence/similarity along the lines of the “great mother goddess” mythology and idolatry. The very presence of a female leader in that context would weaken the ‘difference’ the church had to make and to be at that time. There was a huge amount of discussion about allowing music in church services for the same reason. I really hope you consider this context and the effect on the local church more fully because I do want to make a final point which is closely related.
We look for the totality of Scripture and not a proof text as mentioned earlier. God values women no less than us men, I think you would agree to that statement. Every human has significant value because THEY are made in the image of God and Jesus Christ died for OUR sins. It is those things that give us value. If you also agree that women are no less capable of leadership (you say they can be CEO’s etc in secular leadership) and you also say Paul appeals in 1 Tim 2:12-14 to the fall of man as the reason that a woman should not exercise authority over a man in the Church.
You seem to be able to identify wrong arguments with names etc so must have had debate training or whatever but to me, logically, you are arguing to keep the effects of the fall within the Church but not without them! That just makes no sense to me. The church is the redeemed people of God living as God expects and being part of the transformation back to pre-fall living – the Kingdom of God. This is why I asked you my final question in my previous post which you must have missed.
Sorry I have not been able to respond to you sooner (have to work so I can feed my family) but I need to address your comments. First you cannot use a verse which has translations that are in dispute to contradict what is clearly taught in Scripture. The text means they were considered outstanding and respected by the apostles. This is not a way to do sound exegesis. We don’t use passages that are unclear to interpret passages that are clear, that is reversed. The ESV reads “They are well known to the apostles”. The HCSB says “They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles”. The NET reads “They are well known to the apostles”. Your answer to my question whether there is a context today that the fall of man does not apply falls short. Either you didn’t understand my question properly or I did not word it correctly. Let me try again. 1. Paul’s reason in 1 Tim 2:12-14 for why women should not be in a position of authority over men in the Church was because Eve was first deceived. 2. Is there a context today where it is no longer true that Eve was the first deceived? Conclusion: If it is still true today that Eve was the first deceived in the garden then it still applies today that women should not teach men in the context of the Church. You can disagree with me on Deborah but you have no Biblical basis to do so. You provided no valid argumentation for it. Were women to hold the office of priest in the Old Testament? You mentioned Anna, once again that is a misrepresentation of my position. Was Anna a priest or one who exerted spiritual and teaching authority over men in the context of the assembled people of God? Women can witness to, share the Gospel with, speak about Biblical truth to men, (My wife just shared the Gospel with a man the other day) but women are not to hold positions of authority and teaching in the Church. You tried to make the argument that the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is why Paul sets this standard. The problem with your argument is this is not the reason Paul gives, Paul says it was because Eve was the first deceived. The other problem with this argument is Paul wrote the same thing to Titus, who was not in Ephesus (probably in Crete), and to the Corinthian church. The use of the words Overseer (episkopos) and Elder (presbyteros) are all over the New Testament (Acts, Peter, James, Philippians, Revelation). These are masculine Greek nouns and adjectives. Are you saying that the context for all this was a temple in Ephesus which is not the reason any writer in the New Testament gives for this standard? You seem to assume that position indicates human value. Is the CEO at my company of more human value that I am? Your assertion that I believe that women are less capable of leadership is another misrepresentation. The reason for this standard is because God has established roles as part of His created order. Women are also to be submissive to their husbands (Husbands are to love and give up their own lives for their wives). People as created by God have particular roles as established by God for His own purposes. It is not for us to think we know better than God. You asked me to answer the question you had asked previously “Wouldn’t it be a great triumph for the devil if he could persuade half of the church not to allow half of the available Ministers to minister the presence of God into people’s hearts and lives?” The problem with your question is that it assumes what you are supposed to be proving. It is “begging the question”. Your question assumes that women are part of the available ministers to be in a position of teaching and authority in the Church. This is what you are supposed to be proving. You are using a circular argument.
Thank you for the interesting dialogue, guess we have to agree to disagree. Grace and peace to you.