Saturday, April 2, 2011

Free Beer!

I found myself in the midst of an odd situation yesterday.

Let me back up a bit.  Earlier this week we were told that the Discovery Channel would be filming at my place of employment (JCB) for a new show that will air this summer. The producers of the show wanted to give a glimpse of the JCB employees in a more casual setting to supplement the factory footage. In order to do this, we were all invited (and highly encouraged) to go to a particular restaurant after work on Friday.

Most people don't want to go to a restaurant after work at the end of the week.  In order to get more folks to come, JCB offered to pick up the tab. In other words: FREE BEER!

This put me in an odd spot. I desire to live out my Christian faith amongst my fellow employees. No problem there. The difficulty is that I don't drink alcohol.  Mainly it's because I like it too much. It is far easier for me to not drink at all than drink a few beers (there are a few other reasons why I don't drink, but this is not the post for that discussion.  Let me just say that drinking alcohol is not sinful; drunkenness is).

If I didn't go to the restaurant at all it would look bad. If I did go, I'd have to be around others drinking. I decided to go. Everyone else had all sorts of beer (which I admit looked pretty good to me) while I drank a Coke. I just told others that I needed to not drink because, as I said above, I like it too much. I made a point of not standing in judgment of others as they drank. We all talked and hung out. The Discovery people wandered around asking questions. I ended up strategically leaving just before the camera crew arrived at our table to ask questions.

As all this was happening I was reminded about one thing I don't like about alcohol. After most people get a few beers into their systems their mouths begin to get loose. Among this non-Christian crowd the language and topics gradually became, well, cruder.

My desire in all this was to show folks that a Christian could be part of something like that and still act like a Christian. I'm referring to acting godly (I hope) while others did not - at least in speech. I hope I succeeded in some manner. If I didn't like alcohol so much I might have had a beer or two. Maybe this would have been a good thing to show the other people that I am, in fact, a real person.

This was a difficult situation. I'm not sure I handled it well. I'm glad I went to the restaurant. I'm not sure after that. It was odd.

Have you been in situations like this where you feel conflicted? What have you done?

10 comments:

micah7 said...

So was that the whole point of this exercise, to film people after they've had too much to drink? What would I have done? Perhaps I would have had one but then again, I would have probably done the same thing you did.

Eric said...

Micah,

Hi brother. I hope things are going well for you in classes, church, work, etc.

As for Discovery, I'm not sure what their motives were. I think they just wanted to show a different setting than the manufacturing plant. I hope they didn't get much drunkenness on film. I left before anyone got too tipsy.

It's difficult to know what to do in situations like that. I hope God is pleased with good heart motivation even if I didn't handle it perfectly.

Alan Knox said...

Eric,

I know this is not the point of your post (which I enjoyed very much), but I was wondering... Why did you decide to leave before the camera crew got to your table?

-Alan

Eric said...

Alan,

Frankly, I just didn't want to have to deal with it. Too much stress. Also, I knew that Alice and the kids would soon be getting home from homeschool co-op and I wanted to see them.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

Unlike you,I don't like beer. I think you did the right thing by going. It's far too easy to make excuses to opt out.

You have a lot to teach your fellow workers about self control in your reason for not indulging.

Eric said...

John,

I'm sure hoping for opportunities in this vast mission field. The USA is truly a post-Christian nation.

Scott said...

I have found myself in this situation at time, usually work related(Lisa's employer) or a wedding reception.

I normally will attend, both because I enjoy the fellowship, and in some way to demonstrate that one can have an enjoyable time without drinking alcohol.

What's sad is there almost always some folks present whose sole intention seems to be to drink in excess, thereby losing all self-control.

Here's my opinion for what's it worth. I think you made three good decisions. 1)to go 2) to abstain 3) to leave early.


I know it's not the focus of your post but I would like to ask your thoughts related to this issue ...

I tell people I don't drink because I don't want sin. They often say well drinking is not a sin - drunkenness is. So to those who advocate drinking, but say we must avoid drunkenness this is always my question.

Where exactly is the line between drinking and drunkenness?

Another words when have you begun to sin? Certainly the line between drinking and drunk is not simply what the state (trooper) has determined it to be.

Truth is I think we must admit that there is a level of drunkenness with the first drink of beverage alcohol.

Because I can't answer that question (and for other reasons), I abstain.

The other thing I think we must understand is that most all the beverage alcohol produced today in comparison to something like first century wine would be probably be classified as strong drink.

Your thoughts?

Brother Scott ><>

Eric said...

Scott,

You make some great points brother. Thanks for the encouragement.

As for where the line is where drunkenness begins, that is a great question. You are right in that I don't think we can know. And, to try to determine where that is after having a few beers certainly isn't going to work. Like you, that is a major reason for my abstinence. Some Christians seem to be able to have a few beers with no drunk-effect, but I'm not one of them. There may be some Christian freedom in this, but personally I can't be part of that.

I apologize for rambling. My thoughts are not coming out as clearly as I would like.

Other issues related to this are desiring to always be under the control of the Holy Spirit, desiring to never cause a brother to stumble, and (when purchase is required) desiring to be a good steward by not buying alcohol in the first place.

Overall, I think the wisest course is to abstain all together. In the end, we agree completely.

Mark said...

Eric,

I would like to weigh in on Scott's question, and broaden the topic of discussion a bit.

I drink minimal amounts of alcohol. I grew up not drinking, so it does not take much to just plain make me sleepy! Also, as my wife mocks me for saying, it kind of makes my stomach feel weird! So, I may have a few sips of wine, or a cider beer, in certain occasions, but this is rare.

I have been in similar situations to the one you describe. I never did come to a place of peace about going or not going, although my decision not to drink was easy for me, given that fact that I don't care for it. I think my motives were less mature, and actually fleshly, at that time. I was trying to fit in, and that is never a good reason to go to a bar!

Regarding Scott's question I think we need to look at this from a different angle. I think this is more a matter of the heart, and not a matter of how much. I also think we have to discuss more than just alcohol, but maybe even coffee, pop or any other beverage/chemical that we consume because of how it makes us feel. The issue, I think, is more along the lines of whether or not something controls you. In my case, my poisons are coffee and sugar. I love them, especially combined! I don't like coffee for the caffeine, but just the experience. If I don't get my cup of coffee in the morning, I just don't feel right! However, I have to be willing to do without it, because if I am not willing to lay it down it has become an idol to me. I think the same is true with alcohol or anything else we consume. Do we control it or does it control us? In my mind, for some people, even those not given to excess, one may be too much. For others more would be fine. I think about my dear old grandma at my cousin's wedding. She was drinking champagne, and not being a regular drinker she took too much and got intoxicated. Was that sin for her? I would argue not, because her reason drinking was not to "feel" something, but because she liked how it tasted, and her inexperience allowed her to take too much.

We could broaden this out to cigars, food of any kind, even exercise and many other things. If we are being controlled by that thing it is sin. If we can do it with a clean conscience before God then it is not. In fact, per Romans 14:23, all things not done from faith are sin.

Sorry I am rambling. Unlike you, this is my usual state (although I did not think you rambled). I hope my point comes across clearly in spite of me!

Mark

Eric said...

Mark,

Thanks for commenting. I think I understand what you are saying.

I agree with you that alcohol is an issue of control. As Christians, we should always desire that the Holy Spirit control us. The danger, of course, is when alcohol begins to take over.

There is certainly a level of freedom in all this. For me, I need to avoid all alcohol. However, I'm sure that other Christians can have a few beers and be OK.

Again, the key is control.