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:
- As Christians we should understand that alcohol itself is not bad, instead the abuse and addiction of this substance is what is bad.
- 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:
- “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.”
- “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.”