Who are we known as?
While taking classes at Michigan State, I got to know a young man my age. I can remember vividly talking with him about church before our class one night. The memory is ingrained in my head. I told him I attended a Protestant Reformed church, and what was the first thing he said to me? “Man, you PRs throw some pretty crazy parties, I’ve been to a couple and…” I admitted that it was pretty sad that this was how he and many others see us and I explained to him that this is not how all of us are. I know the term “partier” only refers to a minority of young people in our denomination, but more often than not other churches around us and the world only hear about the minority. Is this who we really want to be known as?
It’s not just under-age young people in our church that are getting drunk on weekends, it’s confessing members of the church also, confessing members who have vowed before God to “lead a new, godly life” (Form for Public Confession of Faith). These young confessing members of the church who are old enough by law to drink alcohol are examples to the young people of the church who are in their teenage and high school years. Not only is abusing your privilege to drink alcohol a bad example and a sin, but supplying minors with alcohol is cause for serious concern. I Corinthians 8:9ff says, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak…and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.” Not only are we putting another in danger physically, we are harming them spiritually and we are sinning against Christ.
In regards to how we are instructed to use alcohol, it does not get any clearer than Proverbs 20:1, another pearl of wisdom from Solomon, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” This is simple biblical truth! Alcohol impairs the judgment. One does sinful things he or she otherwise would not when under its influence. Alcohol in itself is not a bad thing. Psalm 104 praises God’s providence in creation and talks of God providing wine (vs. 15), “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” Paul in I Timothy 5:23 brings this out: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” We are instructed of a little wine as good for the stomach, but notice, he adds the words “a little”. We have to be able to control our intake of alcohol and not fall into the sin of drunkenness. Proverbs 25:28 addresses this matter of self control, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” We need to be able to control ourselves against the open floodgates of sin and temptation. Our life can be compared to a wall. Each brick in our wall is our resistance against each sin. One brick is our defense against drunkenness, one against lying, one against adultery, and so on. If we pull one brick out of our wall, in this case our defense against drunkenness, our wall is going to be weaker. When one is in a drunken state, the wall is in its most perilous position. One cannot control what he or she does when in the drunken state. One cannot control the evil thoughts, desires, lusts, words, and actions that occur in this state. By pulling out our one brick of defense against the sin of drunkenness, we have dislodged many others and our wall is starting to crumble and fall down. Proverbs 23:29-35 speaks of drunkenness and some of the sin it brings along with it. “…At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things…” The child of God in the drunken state can make some serious mistakes and commit sins that will affect his or her life and the lives of many others. Premarital sex, car accidents, and lost friendships are a few things that can and do happen when a child of God is living in this sin. Maintain your wall, be continually looking for weak points that need to be patched. Be on the lookout for temptations that come flying in from all directions, temptations that have one goal: the downfall of your wall.
One thing the child of God must not fall into is the hype surrounding one’s 21st birthday party. There is so much pressure on young people to get drunk on their 21st birthday. While there is nothing wrong with going out on your 21st birthday and using this privilege, there is something very wrong with misusing this privilege in a way that you are drunk, whether in public or private. We are the children of God and our bodies are his. I Corinthians 3:16, 17 tells us this and gives us the clear warning of what will happen if we defile his holy temple. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” We must always show in our lives that we are God’s children by our witness. Satan along with the world laughs when the child of God professes to be Christian but leads a life of drunkenness and sin. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). We must leave a godly example for those around us to follow; we must not let our God be mocked because of our sinfulness.
Another sad truth is that there are certain homes that are known as “party houses.” Parents, may your homes never be known as this. Rule your home in godliness. Make it explicitly clear that you will not tolerate underage drinking and the abuse of alcohol with children who are “of age.” Know where your children go. Know who their friends are. Know what they do with their friends. Never put them in a situation where they are tempted to use your home as a haven for this sin. When I come home from a night out with friends, my parents ask me where I’ve been. One may think of this as annoying or pestering but I am thankful to my parents for doing this. They care enough about my well-being to want to know where I’ve been and who I’ve been with. If a young person feels he or she has to lie about where they’ve been on Friday night, they probably ought not have been there in the first place. Setting a curfew is a great way to prevent a lot of problems. I’m not here to tell parents what to do or not do in regards to this matter, but a young person without a curfew has so many more opportunities to fall into this temptation.
Young people, choose your friends wisely. Our friends must be those who are strong in faith and can resist temptation and who can in turn help us resist temptation. Not only must we choose our friends wisely, but also we must be wise with the friends we have. When the devil rears his head and one of our friends falls into the sin of drunkenness, we must not leave that friend, or join them for that matter. We are called by God to go to that friend with scripture and help that friend in whatever way we can in their struggle against this sin. This is nothing new to us, we all know the way of Matthew 18 in regards to approaching a fellow believer who has fallen into sin. It is our duty as Christians to tell our friends and fellow believers when they are walking in sin, and if we are walking in sin and they come to us we must have the strength to hear what they say and turn from our sin.
So who will we be known as? The words in this article are nothing new to us. Let us then strive to live up to the name we have as Christians. Let us try our very hardest to reflect the image of Christ in our lives. Let us not do this just so others will look at us in a better light, but more importantly for the glory of our amazing God! Let us pray to God to give us strength to resist temptation and keep our temples holy before God. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).