What About Alcohol? 

A Mocker Priests
Weaker Brother Domestic Violence
Rebellious Son Prohibition

A Mocker

Paul commands believers not to get drunk,

"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:18-21).

Drunkenness is condemned in harsh terms in the scriptures, both Old and New Testament:

  • “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
  • (Proverbs 20:1).

  • “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?  Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 'They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?'”
  • (Proverbs 23:29-35).

Paul warns,

"Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

As far as concerns explicit instruction in scripture, temperance is recommended. This is sound advice, and was understood as such by the first century Jewish commentator Philo Judaeus:

  • “And in this way when we are at entertainments, and when we are about to come to the enjoyment and use of luxuries that have been prepared for us, let us approach them taking reason with us as a defensive armor, and let us not fill ourselves with food beyond all moderation like cormorants, nor let us satiate ourselves with immoderate draughts of strong wine, and so give way to intoxication which compels men to act like fools. For reason will bridle and curb the violence and impetuosity of such a passion.”
  • (Philo Judaeus, Allegorical Interpretation, Book III, Chapter LIII).

William Hogarth, Gin Lane

Drunkards do not inherit the kingdom:

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: £adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21).

So far, so good. Can we take the next step, and agree that 'the Bible teaches we should not consume alcohol'? But what of the wedding at Cana, where Jesus changed water into wine? If they were better off drinking water, then what was He thinking? Banning alcohol altogether may be a step too far, although we can all agree drunkenness is condemned. Yet while this discipline cannot be made mandatory, it is the better way, and pays off dividends in increased human happiness.



It is true that the Bible does not forbid consumption of alcohol in moderation. There is much more to be said about this however:

"Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: 'Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die.'" (Leviticus 10:8-9).

The priests were not consume alcohol while on duty; if there is no potential conflict between alcohol and holiness, then why not?


Weaker Brother

Paul urges concern for the weaker brother:

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.  Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak." (Romans 14:19-21).

If alcohol consumption, intended by design to be in moderation, is a normal part of social life, then it can be safely predicted that whole army of people, perhaps ten percent of the total population, will end up under the subhuman degradation of habitual drunkenness. This means misery, not only for them, but for their children, employers, neighbors, non-participating spouses and other innocent victims. People in the churches should consider whether laying such a snare for others is worth it. The message the habitual drunkard hears from society is the 'therapeutic' message, 'It's not your fault.' This is a wonderful comfort for these people. Whose self esteem would not be enhanced by hearing over and over, 'You wonderful person, you,' even if they, or other providers or tax-payers, have to pay good money to hear such patently untrue sentiments expressed? This soothing message is such a big hit in the market-place that there is an entire industry devoted to promoting it. Business will always be brisk, as alcoholism rates only, always and inexorably rise under this regime. If the sufferers from this affliction heard a different message from the church, would there be any great harm done?

The guiding principle of the therapeutic industry which sought to shoulder aside moralistic preaching during the twentieth century was amorality. Moralism, they cautioned, produces only paralyzing guilt. Thus they silenced the temperance preaching which gave the drunkard motivation to change. Their very definition of the problem, the construct of 'alcoholism,' lacks any objective component, much less moral content. How much alcohol the subject consumes is irrelevant, nor do they apply any behavioral or performance criteria: being incoherent 24/7 does not make one an alcoholic. Rather, the person's subjective dissatisfaction with his life, if any, centering around alcohol-related issues, is the only potential problem these people can see. Thus, people who are drunk all the time, but do not aspire to anything better, have no problem, by their definitions, whereas people who hardly drink at all can still be 'alcoholics.' A satisfied customer is a repeat customer, and whatever it takes to keep their consumer base coming back for more 'rehab' is what they diagnose. The criticisms offered by those around the 'alcoholic' go unheard, except insofar as the 'alcoholic' himself lifts up their banner, if he can put aside his annoyance that he is sick and tired of these people criticizing him all the time. No effort is made to teach him empathy, nor any concern for how his behavior impacts others. That he may become a ball and chain attached to someone else's foot was a central concern of temperance preaching, but that has been laid aside.

Or is it an offense against Christian liberty to preach against drunkenness? The idea that no moral ideals can be set before a Christian audience beyond the plain instructions of scripture has a long and noble history and cannot be lightly discarded:

"There is another principle regarded as fundamental by all Protestants, and that is, that the Bible contains the whole rule of duty for men in their present state of existence. Nothing can legitimately bind the conscience that is not commanded or forbidden by the Word of God. This principle is the safeguard of that liberty wherewith Christ has made his people free. If it be renounced, we are at the mercy of the external Church, of the State, or of public opinion. This is simply the principle that it is right to obey God rather than man. . .

"Men still insist on the right of making that sin which God does not forbid; and that obligatory which God has not commanded. They prescribe rules of conduct and terms of church fellowship, which have no sanction in the Word of God. It is just as much a duty for the people of God to resist such usurpations, as it was for the early Christians to resist the authority of the Roman Emperors in matters of religion, or for the early Protestants to refuse to recognize the right of the Pope to determine for them what they were to believe, and what they were to do. The essence of infidelity consists in a man’s putting his own convictions on matters of truth and duty above the Bible."

(Hodge, Charles (2015-02-13). Systematic Theology: The Complete Three Volumes (Kindle Locations 29845-29863). GLH Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Certainly Christians who wish to commend abstinence to their fellow-believers should realize they seek to persuade free men. Those who wish to commend moderate drinking, a view-point growing in popularity in the church, should realize there is a down-side to their proposal. Personally, I agree with Ambrose, “'All things are lawful to me,' says the Apostle, 'but all things are not expedient.' As, also, to drink wine is lawful, but, for the most part, it is not expedient.” (Ambrose, Concerning Widows, Chapter 11, Section 68).


The Southern Baptists are one large church who are making the transition to promotion of social drinking. But with this comes, of course, celebrity slip-ups, tearful confessions, and stints in rehab. Perry Noble has fallen from grace on these grounds. If they want it they can have it, the whole package, as it comes in one whole package; but I do not know why they want it, when what they used to have is better. That there was never unanimity in the practice is sufficient proof that Christian liberty was maintained. These inevitable stumbles provide all the more occasion for the modern Southern Baptists to flaunt their tolerance and their new-found devotion to 'therapy.' Certainly we should love and cherish our mentally ill brethren, but compassion for their sufferings is not shown by handing them over to quacks.

Stingy tax-payers demand that tax-dollars be spent only on 'evidence-based' therapies, because these are proven to bring results. Effectiveness is tested, not in a vacuum, but by comparison with 'no therapy,' which in the instance of alcohol and drug abuse yields a success rate of about 25%: when you check in with them later, one quarter of the drunks in your survey are no longer drunks. That rules out rehab and twelve-step programs, which struggle to come up to the one quarter success rate of 'no therapy.' Medicaid struggles to weed out the phony rehab facilities: the flop-houses on the beach, which collect reimbursement while providing no meaningful therapy. How would you differentiate between these fakes and the real thing? By checking their rate of success and failure in weaning their clients off drugs? No, because the genuine article does no better at that than do the flop-houses. But if they cannot actually help alcoholics and drug addicts, then surely they can at least silence the moralistic preaching of the temperance movement? They try mightily, but their case as to why erasing 'stigma' is beneficial to drunks and drug addicts would perplex Alice in Wonderland:


Domestic Violence

The Bible says that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler. . .” (Proverbs 20:1), and among those who can testify to the truth of the saying that 'strong drink is a brawler' are women who have the misfortune to be married to a drunk, and have the bruises and broken bones to prove it. Leaving aside all inventive mythology about 'patriarchy,' the disinhibition consequent to alcohol use, leaving an angry man to lash out like an animal, is the real culprit in many of these cases. Ironically, the church's testimony against this barbarism was stronger and more consistent in the nineteenth century than it is today, when many churches encourage social drinking, with the inevitable consequences that go along with it, as night follows day, of drunkenness and alcoholism. Will you then encourage these women to stay married to the drunk and get beat up every night, insisting the Bible so teaches? But the Bible does no more encourages drunkenness than it does violence. The church of the nineteenth century had a positive, affirmative program to reduce domestic violence, and that program was temperance. William Jennings Bryan realized that the saloon brought 'violence' into the home, and he was against it: "No man can claim that his right to drink intoxicating liquor requires the licensing of a saloon which pollutes the locality in which it is situated and brings want and misery and violence into the homes around it." (William Jennings Bryan, Prohibition, p. 6).

The feminists make the unverified claim that it is the Christian church which is responsible for domestic violence. But set the adjustment on your time machine back to a hundred years ago, and insert yourself amongst the Baptists and Methodists of the day. Will you find them saying that wife abuse is the normal order of things, the way of the world, and that women should accustom themselves to it? Nothing of the sort. You will find them instead,— not 100%, but the great majority, — agitating on behalf of Prohibition, with the promise that eliminating the sale of intoxicating liquor will at the same time eliminate domestic violence. The experiment was tried and, alas, even the first part was found not to be attainable. Given enough time and enough ignorance, the feminists imagine they can erase this entire era from American church history and substitute some alternative set of facts from the 'Handmaid's Tale' or other fiction. There is no temperance literature which starts from the assumption that violence against women and children is normal. These writers begin, instead, with the view that the barroom is to blame. The difference between this view and the fantasies of the feminists, is that actual criminological data can be advanced in its favor.

It can be dangerous to follow the Lord's commands in the Sermon on the Mount. Not resisting violence does not always de-escalate the situation, it can give the aggressor the jubilant assurance that he will not be punished and can do as he pleases, as in the case of this Red Chinese prison interrogator:

"The officer demanded that Enguang answer questions about the Bible while beating him. "He slapped me four times in a row and said, 'The Book of Matthew, the New Testament, the 6th chapter, verses 38-42.'

"He then said, 'I see anger in your eyes. Christ taught you to love me. You shouldn't anger me with your anger. You should move me with your love.' He slapped once more." ('Christ Taught You to Love Me': Chinese Officer Mocks Christian as He Beats Him During Interrogation,' Christian Post, May 28, 2018, Stoyan Zaimov).

Presumably this brutal Red Chinese police interrogator meant Matthew chapter 5, which does instruct the believer to turn the other cheek. It can seem like a practical impossibility to live up to these difficult commands, and yet this Chinese Christian did not strike back. Is it conceivable this is what Paige Patterson was recommending to the battered woman in his congregation? Not according to him. In fact, Christians of the present day are notoriously slow to recommend non-violence to anyone, even though the Lord plainly enjoined it. The assumption that violence works wonders, that it is the ultimate practical answer to the difficulties of life, is fraught with its own defeated hopes:

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

(Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, pp. 62–63 (1967).

The feminists protest that all the forgiveness falls upon the women, whereby the liberty to keep on offending is discovered by the men. But this is not intended to be the case. A realistic look at domestic violence shows that the temperance preachers were not mistaken in finding a nexus between this scourge and alcohol and drug use:

"Alcohol and drug use. Victims and family members reported that 92 percent of assailants used drugs or alcohol during the day of the assault." (Drugs, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence in Memphis Summary of a Presentation by Daniel Brookoff, M.D., Ph.D., October 1997, National Institute of Justice).

It is perplexing indeed to discover that The Patriarchy is beaming out instructions to all male inhabitants, but the message is only getting through to the drunks, crack-heads and methamphetamine users. Why is The Patriarchy's message only getting through to such a narrowly selective slice of the audience?

Everyone who has been to church, I'm sure, has heard testimonies told the old fashioned way: Dad was a surly drunk who beat his wife and children, but then one of the children attended a kid's crusade and heard the gospel, then Mom followed, and finally Dad, no longer a burden to his family but a blessing, joined them at the altar. The problem with these narratives isn't that they are untrue; any interested person can verify the outlines of the story by interviewing the participants. But you must not tell these stories any more, even though they are true, and even though they give glory to God. Ask Paige Patterson; he told such a story, although he did not give enough detail to know if alcohol was involved, and what he got in return was public humiliation. Where did he go wrong? He said that the husband repented and became a good husband. This is taken as evidence on its face that he is "woefully under-informed" about domestic abuse. How so? Because 'repentance' is part of the problem, not the solution:

"Considering how common it is for victims to first disclose their abuse to their pastors, training clergy to recognize and respond to abuse should be a mandated part of the curriculum in any seminary. It is unconscionable that we still have pastors who would send a woman back into danger because a husband appears to have repented. Anyone even vaguely informed about the cycles of abuse knows that apologies are part of the cycle. A show of remorse means nothing except that the abuser has moved on to the next stage of the cycle. . .A tearful apology on the part of an abuser is part of the ploy to remain in control of the victim and prevent her (or his) escape, and it is extremely dangerous for anyone in a position of influence to accept an abuser’s apology (or participation in church) at face value." ('Paige Patterson, women’s voices and the gaping hole in education,' Kyndall Rae Rothaus, May 24, 2018, Baptist News Global).

Now, stop and think a minute. We only know about these people because Paige Patterson told us about them. For all we know, they are fictional creations of his own. If so, they do and say what he directs them to do and say; if he says the husband repented, then so he did! An author is as it were a god to his creations; he sets them in motion at his whim, and brings them back to their places. When Paige Patterson's protege Ergun Caner got into trouble for making up outrageous fables about his past as a Jihadi terrorist, some people pointed out that those in Paige Patterson's circle do not necessarily think it wrong for a pastor, in offering a sermon illustration, to present a made-up story as if it really happened, or to retell a joke in the first person, as if it happened on the way to church. And yet, they tell us, Paige Patterson is showing his ignorance and incompetence by saying this man repented, because so they will have it: abusive husbands never really repent. She leaves, or gets murdered. Meanwhile back in the real world, I wouldn't be surprised when Dr. Jekyll's repentance, though real, does not carry over to Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is an apologetic sort of guy by nature, who would never raise his hand in anger. The barrage of instruction they put out on this topic passes Dr. Jekyll right by, because he does not need it. Meanwhile Mr. Hyde is unreceptive to instruction.

After all, according to insiders, the woman is real. At the time neither she nor Paige Patterson had reason to believe she was in imminent danger. He still remembers a happy ending: "They lived happily together from that time on in commitment to Christ. There was no further abuse." (Paige Patterson, Press Release from Paige Patterson, April 30, 2018). Largely because of this sermon illustration, from years ago, this man was bounced out the exit door from his job as seminary president just shy of his retirement. It is true that violence can escalate: "In the United States, one of the most dangerous places for a woman is her own home. Approximately 1,500 women are killed each year by husbands or boyfriends. About 2 million men per year beat their partners, according to the F.B.I." (No Safe Place: Violence Against Women, PBS.org). God forbid any of us should ever purchase the winning ticket in this lottery, though if truth be told, it does not pay out at as high a rate as is advertised. If millions of women are battered every year, and up to 1,500 of these end up dead (some women are murdered without prior history of abuse), we really need to get serious about all those abuse victims who end up drowning in the bathtub, or falling off step-ladders. And what about handling frayed and abraded extension cords? It cannot be taken as a given that each and every victim of wife-beating is in imminent danger of death, and certainly a verbally abused woman who had not previously suffered physical abuse cannot be assumed to be in that kind of danger.

Is it true that repentance is a sham, just part of the cycle of violence? It may be so in some cases. But there are thousands sitting in church today who say, no, that's not the way it happened; the "gaping hole in education" is in the ideologues' denial of experienced facts. Their testimony should not be silenced, shamed or negated. The church should not sit silent while the power of the gospel is denied, by those who pretend to be its ministers. The 'no repentance' way of thinking is not evidence based, nor even reality based; it does not come out of verifiable criminological research into this offense, but out of a prolific political mythology.

This was not Paige Patterson's only offense; he also defended a teenage boy who said of a teenage girl that she was 'built,' thus objectifying women. As the controversy escalated, other incidents came to light. Allegedly also he encouraged a female victim of date rape to forgive her assailant. The circumstances of this event (there are reportedly two such cases, widely separated in time) are in dispute. I do not want to wander into the tall weeds of whether the allegation of rape was made contemporaneously with the event or years later, whether the woman told conflicting stories, and whether the alleged perpetrator was afforded due process, etc. Two approaches have risen to the surface, taken by the accusers: the minimal facts case and the contextually sensitive case. The minimal facts approach declares that it does not matter what the circumstances are; in no case should an admitted victim of domestic assault be counselled to do anything but immediately divorce the perpetrator. The contextually sensitive approach rejoins, but what if the repentance was real? What if the woman's black eyes were the only ones she ever received during the marriage? The problem with the minimal facts approach is that it is incompatible with Christianity, because it assigns a negative value to forgiveness and repentance, to which Christianity assigns a positive value. The problem with the contextually sensitive approach is that the facts are sketchy, uncertain, and in dispute. Shouldn't someone be sitting down, trying to hammer out what the facts actually are? Shouldn't someone have done that before ending Dr. Patterson's career? If they thought him a fossil, why did they not let him quietly retire?

What distresses me about the accusations concerning alleged rape at two different institutions at widely separated intervals is the accusers' unbending assumption that it is wicked for any Christian pastor to encourage a rape victim to forgive her assailant, whether in conjunction with criminal prosecution or in lieu of it. Certainly no one is suggesting forgiveness so effusive as to constitute consent after the fact, but to say that women must never forgive wrongs done them is as much as to say one half the human race can never become Christian. Though I can't provide a source, this little story about John Wesley has made the rounds:

"General Oglethorpe once said to John Wesley, “I never forgive and I never forget.”

To which Wesley replied, “Then, Sir, I hope you never sin.”

They say that Genghis Khan's motto was, "The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters." Is that empowering, or what? The way the world views power, so it is. But is it not excessive to demand that, going forward, a suitably modified form of this perhaps apocryphal saying will be the motto for women, whereas men are allowed to repeat, with the Lord's prayer, "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Incarceration can provide the social benefit of putting on ice, for a time, a serial predator, and in other instances, reportedly, Paige Patterson has so recommended. Has it been established that that is what we're dealing with here?

If there is a judgment of God to fear, it is this:

"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26).

While a plea for another to forgive and forget may be ill-timed or inopportune, it cannot be wicked. The critics say, ". . .their theology lays the groundwork for abuse." (Dianna Anderson, June 4, 2018, 'SBC’S #MeToo Problem Isn’t a Rotten Apple, It’s A Rotten Theological Tree.' Religion Dispatches). Forgiveness, and repentance, are, as it happens, central concerns of the Christian gospel, and we are told, ". . .with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2). Certainly it is up to the victims to decide whether complying violates their feelings or sense of justice; you cannot command someone to forgive any more than you can command them to fall in love. From whence comes the demand that women must never forgive those who injure them, and more than that, must maximize all opportunities for prosecution and incarceration? Setting a land speed record for fleeing when no one pursues, Southern Baptist Al Mohler warned, "Judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention. The terrible swift sword of public humiliation has come with a vengeance." (Al Mohler: 'The Humiliation of the Southern Baptist Convention Evangelicals, we can no longer say sexual misconduct is just a Roman Catholic problem.' May 23, 2018, Christianity Today). The Roman Catholic clerical child abuse scandal was massive, involving at its height, according to the John Jay report, a full four percent of active Roman Catholic priests. 

“These different methods both yielded the same statistic: approximately 4% of Catholic priests and deacons in active ministry between 1950 and 2002 have been accused of the sexual abuse of a youth under the age of 18.”
(John Jay Report, 2.2 Summary results: Prevalence of Sexual Abuse of Youths Under 18 by Catholic Priests and Deacons.).

It is not clear what is the "avalanche" of sexual misconduct to which he is referring, inasmuch as one alleged date rape between two seminarians does not a crime wave make, and no one has suggested that four percent of Baptist pastors are pedophiles. I suspect the true tsunami to come, which Al Mohler fears and from which he hopes to distance himself, is the revelation of similarly "dated" advice in the archives of preaching websites. There probably is, I suspect, a lot of this out there: exhortations to forgive and forget, advice not to divorce, and the like, and now it has been discovered to be career-ending.

This presents a difficulty, because the Lord says, "For I hate divorce, says the Lord the God of Israel." (Malachi 2:16). Feminists see divorce as a panacea, an all-purpose cure-all for the ills of the world. But it cannot be so for all involved. In the children's eyes, divorce presents the risk almost of ontological dissolution. Not to worry, say the feminists, we will prescribe them therapy. Not that therapy works. Sometimes life presents us with a menu, not listing a good and an evil, but two evils, of which we must choose the lesser. War is an unmixed evil, but loss of liberty is also an evil. Divorce is hateful to God, but so is murder hateful to God. One cannot absolutize one requirement of the law over against all others; to make it a crime to seek medical treatment on the sabbath misses the point of the sabbath. So while I would not say a Christian pastor can never counsel divorce, no believing Christian can recommend divorce so gleefully and prolifically as do the feminists. But now we have to follow their rules, at risk of public shaming and loss of employment. These matters must now be handed over to cops and counselors, with the church left in embarrassed silence, ashamed that of ever having in the past ventured to express an opinion.

From time to time the world launches campaigns against various types of misbehavior, of which the #MeToo movement is the most recent. The church should appreciate the help, but must also draw a line in the sand. Whatever bad conduct they are agitating against, the secularists tend to demonize and dehumanize the perpetrators. The world does not want to see their repentance and restoration, but rather their destruction. The world's only concept of saintliness is victimization, which places a halo on the heads of those unfortunate enough to suffer ill-treatment. The perpetrators they cannot see as some wayward mother's son, who has taken a wrong turn in life, but as living dirt to be trampled upon. They don't "Weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen" (Fanny J. Crosby). And this colors the stories they tell. But the stories we tell do not end with the bad guy being hauled off to jail, if indeed he ever is, but with his return to the fold. To borrow a title from a heretic, the heading for these stories might be, 'Love Wins.' If our stories about wife-beating end with the miscreant a changed man, the world has no right to complain or demand a different ending, even if they think we made it up. Our stories are not their stories; the stories we like best do not end with the bad guy doing a perp walk, but with the whole clan rejoined and rejoicing in heaven. It does not always turn out this way, but this is what we pray for.

The world can only understand, and process, forgiveness as minimization: we forgive, because it really wasn't all that important. Forgiveness, to the world, is 'never mind.' Thus they believe forgiving devalues women. Resolutely refusing to forgive and enacting the maximum vengeance practically available empowers women, who now understand that they have value, which for some unaccountable reason they did not previously realize. But we forgive as we were forgiven, and did God forgive us because it really wasn't a big deal? Then why did Jesus have to suffer and die upon a cross? What is more empowering that becoming like God? And how do we do that?: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matthew 5:44-45). Sooner or later we must part company with those of this world, and hopefully it will be before they reach their final destination. So #CountMeOut. We will not be ashamed of counseling forgiveness and celebrating repentance. Christian folk should restore in their minds the very real relationship, shown in all reputable criminological studies, between alcohol and domestic abuse, because politicized mythology leads into a dead end. Where are their success stories? They have none, they don't want any. Nor can we agree with them that repentance is a deceitful illusion, although not all those who claim to have repented are telling the truth. There are people sitting in the pews today who can tell you when they took their last drink, and for that matter can tell you when they stopped beating their wife.

The trustees who showed Paige Patterson the door do not appear to have meet the desideratum expressed in Pirke Aboth, "Be deliberate in judgment." (Pirke Aboth, Chapter 1:1). Rather they appear to have been stampeded by a Twitter-Storm. Certainly appearances can be deceiving; but if it is true, as alleged, that they did not allow him to speak in his own defense, then that is troubling. We read that "women" are against Paige Patterson. When I hear things like that, Dear Reader, I rush out to my mail-box to find my ballot, which surely must have been delayed in the mail; surely they would not say things like that, assigning a particular view-point to one half the human race, without sending out questionnaires to verify that all, or almost all, members of the subject group actually do feel that way. But alas, the survey ballot never arrives. When they say "women" say this and that, the discerning reader must supply, 'scores of women on social media say this or that.' Does anyone ever say, 'men say this or that,' based on such a small sample size? Or do they wait to see if it catches on? To my observation, Paige Patterson seems to be a poor judge of character; throughout his career he has collected side-kicks like Darrell Gilyard, Ergun Caner, and Judge Pressler, and he is the last to see that these people are bad news, long after everyone else has figured it out. It's possible there really is a systemic problem here, with him discounting women's testimony; we all tend to identify with, and believe, those who are like us, not those who are unlike us; and incidentally that cuts both ways, the men are not always lying. They should go back over this terrain, and this time, be deliberate in judgment.


Rebellious Son

"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, this our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear." (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

The law of Moses comes close to applying the death penalty to habitual drunkenness. Notice that the rebellious son is assumed to be "a drunkard." This isn't the entire accusation against the rebellious son, but it's a part of it.



For most of its history, the temperance movement maintained an exemplary role of voluntary suasion. They succeeded in reducing alcohol consumption by a significant amount in this country, by doing nothing more radical or dangerous than patiently explaining the evils attendant thereto. They gave themselves a black eye by embracing the massive governmental overreach known as Prohibition. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the accompanying Volstead Act criminalized, not the possession and consumption of alcohol, but its sale. At first it succeeded in reducing alcohol consumption by a meaningful amount:

"In fact, one can examine every uninflected statistic that emerged from the 1920s — cirrhosis rates, alcohol-related deaths, incidence of alcoholic psychosis — and it's inescapably clear that Americans as a whole consumed less alcohol during Prohibition than before. The outstanding work of economists Jeffrey A. Miron and Jeffrey Zwiebel in the 1980s and 19900s established that 'alcohol consumption fell sharply at the beginning of Prohibition, to approximately 30 percent of its pre-Prohibition level,' and by the time of Repeal had risen 'to about 60-70 percent of its pre-Prohibition level.'" (Daniel Okrent, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, p. 248).

It took decades for per capita alcohol consumption to rise back up to its pre-Prohibition levels. But whatever gain was achieved was overshadowed by the immense damage done by this social experiment. The 'culture wars' in their modern form started then; it became normal for the urban intelligentsia to portray evangelicals as rural dolts. When I was a child, they made us read authors like Ernest Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis. None of the young people found these pedestrian writers of any interest; certainly no one has ever found them inspiring; so why did we have to read them? Because they were alcoholics! You think I jest, dear reader, but that is what people of that day thought it meant to be a literary genius. Our attention was drawn to the simple, declarative form of the sentences they managed to punch out on on the typewriter with stubby, sodden fingers, ejecting a brief spurt of 'See Spot run' type of prose before lapsing into unconsciousness. This was taken for brilliant artistry because the intelligentsia of that day defined themselves in opposition to the people who had voted for Prohibition. Their heroes just had to be alcoholics, it was that important to them. It's not likely you'll find an alcoholic who's an over-achiever; locating even these mediocre hacks was a coup.

The people who controlled the nascent mass media hated the people who liked Prohibition; their snarled threat to them was, 'You may out-vote us, but we will make your children think it's stylish to carry a hip flask.' Young people are very gullible, and very prone to fall for a glamorized, larger-than-life image on a theatre screen. But after all, it was the evangelicals who fired the first shot: Prohibition was an assault on the personal liberties of those who did not share its founding assumptions.