Ask Your Preacher
My husband and I were raised in different churches. We recently had a discussion about alcohol: those who drink it, those who don't, and what kind of example we want to set for our children. Can you clarify what the Bible states about alcohol consumption?
Dear United Front,
God never specifically condemns all alcohol, but He does condemn ‘strong drink’ (Pr 20:1), drinking parties (1 Pet 4:3), and drunkenness (Rom 13:13). Almost all alcohol that is consumed today would fall into the category of ‘strong drink’ because our alcoholic beverages are artificially fermented to increase their alcoholic content (unlike the wine of Jesus’ day – read “That’s Just Grape” for further details on the wine Jesus drank). We would all do well to heed the words of Pr 23:31-32 and avoid alcohol as much as is possible.
How do I console my daughter who just revealed to me that a trusted grandpa figure exposed himself to her multiple times when she was younger? This man knows the Bible and is involved in children’s ministry at a Christian church (not church of Christ).
Dear Horrified Mother,
Oh, what dark and troublesome times we live in that such things would happen to children! We can’t give you the exact words to say, nor can we give you a crash course in counseling via the internet. What we can do is point out a few verses that deal with tragedy and may be useful when talking with your daughter.
- Listen. Many times the greatest tool you have to help someone who is suffering is simply to use your ears. You can’t remove the hurt they are feeling; each heart knows its own sorrows (Pr 14:10), but you can do a great deal of good by being “swift to hear” (Jas 1:19).
- Rom 8:28 is a great comfort to many people because it gives them hope. God is able to turn tragedy into victory when we trust Him and live our lives His way. All things are possible through God (Php 4:13).
- Some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow, tragedy, and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.
- You may recommend reading the Psalms to her, if she asks for advice. The Psalms can give great comfort to people when human words aren’t enough.
- Stand by her if she chooses to expose this man and his sin. He is endangering others, and if she has the strength, justice should be upheld. Darkness should be exposed by the light (Eph 5:11).
We know that these are a paltry help for such a great pain, but many times words are the least effective at times like this. As we said, many times the greatest tool is a loving and listening ear.
I have a question about Christmas: we all know that most people tell their kids about "Santa". I wanted to know what you thought about parents telling kids about this. Is it wrong? I guess it is a lie, and telling a lie is wrong... I always thought that on Christmas, you should be thinking about what Jesus did for us and not be thinking about how much money we spent on each other. I think it is not about gifts that we give each other but the gift that Jesus has already given to us. I think that if we do give gifts, it should be from the heart and not because "Santa says you were a good boy or girl." I guess I am confused on the subject. I don't have kids, but if I ever do, I’m not sure what the right thing would be to do, and I’m sure that others out there are confused also. That is another reason I am asking this question. Thanks for your time and God bless!
You Better Not Cry
Dear You Better Not Cry,
It is always wrong to lie; the question is whether telling your kids about Santa Claus is lying or not. Many christians have many different views on this. Some christians tell their children that Santa is imaginary because they feel that is honest. Other christians allow their children to believe in Santa and simply don’t dissuade them from the notion until they ask point-blank. No matter what, christians must in good conscience do what they believe is honest. Lying is always wrong (Rev 21:8). The debate isn’t over whether or not lying is a sin; the debate is over whether or not allowing your children to believe in something imaginary counts as being deceptive. Each must do what they believe is faithful and right… it would not be good to be too dogmatic on this point.
Now let’s deal with the issue of Christmas. Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is that no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15). Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25). Christmas is not a Biblical holiday. There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a Biblical foundation to it.
My heart is really heavy. I live near Wichita, KS where Dr. George Tiller was murdered while attending his church. I did not agree with Dr. Tiller performing abortions, but I also don't agree with someone killing him over it. I think it is a very sad situation all the way around. I feel sorry for the congregation that was there; I feel sorry for his family; I feel sorry for the suspect’s family; I just hurt all the way around about it. Would God condone the murder of any individual, regardless of what they did? Would God want me to take matters like that in my own hands and kill someone because he needed to be stopped? Is it my place to sit and judge how he could consider himself a member of a church and provide abortions? I am just terribly confused and hurt over the whole situation. Can you please help me work through these questions and heartache?
Sincerely, Stop the Violence
Dear Stop the Violence,
Murdering babies is wrong; murdering adults is wrong (Gal 5:21). See this previous post on why Dr. Tiller was wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right. The only one who has the right to put someone to death for their crimes is the government (Rom 13:1-4). As an individual, no matter how much you despise what someone is doing, you do not have a right to punish them. Vengeance belongs to God (Rom 12:19), not man. Christ taught that individuals should endure evil in most cases (Matt 5:39-40). Abortion is murder, but no one has a right to personally inflict punishment upon any abortionist. If the government asks you to serve on a jury, you have every right to cast your vote, but until that day you must simply pray that the Lord will watch over those babies and take vengeance when He sees fit. Regardless of what someone gets away with in this life, God will not be mocked on the Day of Judgment (Gal 6:7). Both Dr. Tiller and the gunman will have to make account of their actions.