Friday, June 27, 2008

booze pt.3 (concluding remarks)

If one were to disagree with the Wesleyan Church’s stance on alcohol, be a part of the Wesleyan church, and drink alcohol anyways, that person would have an issue. The issue would have nothing to do with alcohol. The real issue would be one of submission and rebellion.

Regardless of whether or you agree with all the membership guidelines of the church, the fact of the matter is that you committed to submit yourself to the guidelines of the church. For those of us who have taken the next step and have committed ourselves leadership in the church by way of ordained ministry there should be a deeper level of commitment. Sadly, many people who disagree with the guidelines confuse this with the fact that they have placed themselves as part of a body.

While here at Asbury, we are asked to sign a communal agreement on how we live called an ethos. The first paragraph of this ethos states: 

“The Asbury community is a family of believers who have committed themselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…As servants of Christ…seek to develop relationships in mutual respect. They exercise their individual and collective responsibilities…for the whole institution to fulfill its ministries.”

So the point of an ethos statement is that it is an agreement of lifestyle commitments everybody can live by. The point is not that everything is Biblically accurate; the point is that we’ve set parameters for community. Living in community is about submitting to the community and sacrificing our freedom to that community.

This is the point of the Wesleyan Church’s special directives. We as the Wesleyans have set a certain set of lifestyle choices that we all have agreed to submit ourselves to. The point is not that we agree with the individual lifestyle choices, the point is we have committed to them. If one issue bothers us so much we cannot live by it, it is not ethical of us to just simply ignore it.

If we disagree with issues in the church, we should not rebel but instead push for change. (which is what happened at this summer's General Conference). We cannot call ourselves people of integrity if we simply ignore or break the commitments we made when we joined the church. 

In these three posts, I have tried to make two points:

  1. As Christians we should understand that alcohol itself is not bad, instead the abuse and addiction of this substance is what is bad.
  2. As Wesleyans even if we have issues with the church’s stance, we have covenanted to these stances of our own freewill. The choice to break these agreements is an unethical one.

But at the same time, I think that the Wesleyan church should change its stance on alcohol to a more holistic stance, a stance that acknowledges the real issues at stake – addiction and abuse - and remains true to them. This is important because if we do not, we run the risk of becoming legalistic. 

These are my proposals for the Wesleyan Church:

  1. “As Wesleyans we stand against all destructive practices and lifestyles that from all the ways that we abuse that which God has created good. Thus we commit to living lives free from abusing that which God has called good.”
  2. “As Wesleyans we believe we were created to live lives of freedom, free from the control of addictions. Thus we commit to being free from all addictions that we might truly live lives of freedom.”

 

9 comments:

cujo said...

I believe Booze is God's way of letting us know he wants us to be happy. Also I believe he created them so that the Irish would never rule the world.
Good thoughts man.

Luke DeLong said...

the wesleyan church is no different than the first century pharisees.

dan said...

fyi pastor luke (of the wesleyan church) the WC is only the collection of the members of its churchs. Since you are a member of the WC, technically one could say you ARE the church...

which would mean what you are really saying is that you are no different than the first century pharisees...

Luke DeLong said...

hahaha... oh how words can be twisted! The Wesleyan Church Organization as a district is a dictatorship! the kind of dictatorship that jesus taught people how to subvert! but i like where you went with that!

dan said...

remember we have been taught us to love our 'enemies'. (maybe using the term 'dictatorship' not so loving) Jesus' nonviolence does not lead towards another oppressive dictatorship, but instead it leads to loving community.

Gandhi was big on this, we must be true to what we're saying. We cannot say peace and really mean just flipping the power structure around and giving it to those who are not in power. That's not peace that's the exact same thing we've got right now!

besides...it's ironic that the WC has elections, boards, conferences where you can make your voice known and actually make progress.

dan said...

Also, CuJo good point about the Irish!

Luke DeLong said...

progress? have you ever been to a district conference? it's who has the most delegates, which leaves the most authority into the hands of the megachurch. what do old people do? they die! and new younger people raise up and take lead, and they need to hand over the reigns now. and this is what we will have to do for the next generation! (words from a man in the greater ohio district. i think his name is bryan feathers. he said we should euthenize the old people!)

Michael Cline said...

I won't even comment on Dilly's rant. You are one crazy nut Delong. :)

I appreciate your posts on the topic Dan. I share a similar view to yours. I personally think the drinking rule is off base and cannot be supported hermeneutically or theologically, but until it is changed, I submit myself to it.

It's funny to me, our generation goes out and trumpets (with some older folks as well) the idea of rehashing ancient spiritual disciplines like fixed hour prayer and lectio divina, but forgets about the monastic codes of permanence and obedience.

I actually pretty much wrote your first post as my response to the question about drinking on my distict ordination data sheet. So far, I haven't had anyone call me out on it. So I'd say you are in the clear.

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