Question:

First, I want to thank you for explaining in a previous response why social drinking is sinful.† Now, I have for you a short scenario thatís based on that fact.

A Christian gets invited to go eat at a steakhouse by his non-Christian work buddy. While ordering his meal, this buddy decides to get an alcoholic beverage to go with it. He knows that the Christian thinks social drinking is wrong. Should the Christian go ahead and eat with him while he has that drink? According to the Bible, what do you think the proper course of action ought to be?

My reasoning is that, since the Bible says to avoid all appearance of evil and that this is not a work break where you must eat with someone like this, the Christian should not voluntarily eat with anyone who engages in any kind of current public sin.


Answer:

You are misapplying I Thessalonians 5:22, but don't let it bother you, many people do. "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (I Thessalonians 5:21-22). Especially in the King James Version, but also with the New King James Version, English speakers can take this to mean we are to avoid anything that might appear to be evil. But the Greek isn't so flexible. It is saying to avoid evil in all the forms it takes on. In other words, we must carefully discern what is good and what is evil. When we find something to be good, we latch on to it. When we find something to be evil, we shun it. It is similar to the statement in Hebrews 5:14, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

A Christian needs to avoid alcohol because he is to remain sober. But we have to realize that non-Christians don't apply our standards to themselves. "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world" (I Corinthians 5:9-10). A Christian violating his Lord's commands is one thing, a non-Christian breaking commands that he doesn't yet submit to is another. The rule you made for yourself actually contradicts what Paul stated.

Back in the days when I worked for a large company, I would sometimes find myself with a group who all had alcohol for dinner. I just told them, "I'm the designated driver." And I won't take no for an answer. I refused to get in a car where the person driving had recently consumed alcohol. And it often brought up interesting discussions about moral decisions and the dangers of alcohol. I saw it as another opportunity to teach righteousness. If you aren't among those who are sick, you can't show them how to be healed.