18 September 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
My middle-aged son and daughter-in-law are very involved in their Adventist church, and are generous and kind people with good children (all young adults out on their own).
Recently I stayed with them at their home. After I’d gone to my bedroom I came back downstairs for a water glass—and I found them each with a small glass of red wine. They were embarrassed that I’d seen them, but they admitted they drink wine because it is said to be good for heart health. (I saw no evidence that they drink more than the little bit they were sipping on that night.)
I taught my son as he was growing up that the Bible prohibits drinking alcohol of any kind, and his wife’s family was just as strict. This bothered me so much that I was almost speechless, and so I’ve held off saying anything more about it.
Signed, Not how they were raised
Dear Not how they were raised,
Aunty can’t blame you for being surprised: Aunty was raised just as you raised your children with regard to alcohol. We Adventists find it a difficult subject to talk about—but maybe it’s time we do, because it is happening among us.
You already know that we live in an alcohol-saturated culture. You can barely find a TV program where the adults aren’t sipping on a drink. And there is no doubt that alcohol abuse ruins many lives.
Yet Aunty must tell you that the teachings against alcohol aren’t as biblical as we used to think. The Bible plainly condemns intoxication, but even Adventist scholars admit that people in the Bible—including Jesus—likely drank fermented grape juice. Some of the reasons were health-related: there were no refrigerators, so this was a way to preserve vitamins for the winter season. It was also a less germy beverage than the water from streams and open wells.
Adventist attitudes toward alcohol were shaped not so much by the Bible’s teachings as by the prohibitionism of the 19th and early 20th centuries. One big problem then was inexpensive distillation that made strong liquors cheap and readily available. Many churches back then took a “touch not, taste not” stand to alcoholic beverages, just as Adventists did.
Some researchers say there is evidence of heart health benefit from wine, though others say that benefit is offset by other health dangers. Wine producers have made the most of the health claim, while rarely mentioning the damage alcohol is capable of.
What to do or say? That’s going to be up to you. It appears that your children aren’t abusing alcohol—that they are using it sparingly and privately, and for health reasons (whether you accept those reasons or not). It isn’t clear to Aunty that the Bible condemns what they’re doing.
And most importantly: they are adults with their own lives. Please be cautious, and proceed (or not) with much prayer.
Aunt Sevvy has collected her answers into a book! You can get it from Amazon by clicking here.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Your real identity will never be revealed.