In Acts, Peter is given a vision. In the vision, a sheet comes down filled with all sorts of unclean animals. Peter is told to take and eat. Of course, he balks. Then, he is told not to call unclean what God has made clean. (Acts 10:9-16)
Jesus, when speaking to the crowd, says that what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but rather what comes out of it. The heart’s intentions and thoughts are broadcasted through the mouth. Out of an evil heart comes all sorts of sinful actions and words. (Matt 15:10-20)
The writer of the Proverbs says to keep your heart with all diligence, because from it flows a man’s life. (Prov 4:23)
Jeremiah says that the heart is deceitful above all things and that it is desperately sick. (Jer. 17:9)
I was reflecting on these passages after I remembered a t-shirt that was worn in Happy Gilmore. It said, “Guns don’t kill people, I kill people.”
There was the simple truth proclaimed in a silly movie. Man takes whatever instrument he can at his disposal and uses it to defy the Maker, the Creator, who rightfully exerts his will on his creation and fashions it as he sees fit. In and of ourselves, we cannot abide there being a Sovereign God. So we abuse, out of a broken, bitter, vile, heart, whatever we can in God’s creation. We want to suppress our acknowledgment of his existence, because his existence is a judgment on us.
The first thing that comes to mind is the use of alcohol. Drinking these types of beverages makes one instantly unholy, unwise, sinful, or whatever emotions are stirred up with its use. I have heard people rant and rave about the evils of alcohol. I have heard people speak at length about the folly and lack of wisdom shown in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. I have heard people say that men called into ministry of the church have no integrity if they drink a beer or have a glass of wine. I have heard people say that if you drink, you are not a Christian.
Families have been destroyed through the abuse of alcohol. People have been hurt, abused, killed, because of the use of alcohol. This is of course why it is such an emotional issue for so many people.
I am not going to debate the use or non-use of alcoholic beverages as a recreation. That’s not my point here. What concerns me, though, is the object of the ranting, raving, long speeches, and emotional heat. That object: alcohol.
Alcohol in an of itself is not the problem, nor has it ever been. The problem is people. We are broken. We abuse anything and everything. Just as guns don’t pick themselves up and kill people, it is sinful men and women that take these things and use them to destroy, maim, and numb themselves against God’s image as seen through fellow creatures.
The heart of men, apart from the resurrection work of the Spirit, is what produces abuse. We rant and rave against alcohol, but don’t apply this hatred of an abused substance consistently to other life destroying, family sundering abuses that are just as common and just as corroding.
What about the abuse of work? Men and women who are addicted to work? They spend every free moment they can at work or thinking about work. They use it as an escape from family life in the name of “providing for my family.”
What about ESPN? Men and women who are addicted to sports? They spend every free moment keeping up with stats, news, scores. They spend large amounts of money on cable/satellite, tickets, jersey’s, or whatever else? During the weekends, their families are neglected and even treated harshly if they get in the way. It consumes everything, like a drunk man stumbling down the street, but somehow this is a more acceptable and wise abuse.
What about hunting and fishing? What about cars? What about movies? What about video games?
These are just some things I was reflecting on. Its out of the heart sinful things come, not because someone sipped on a beer for recreation, watched their favorite team play all weekend, or went hunting for a few hours in their free time. These things are made sinful by us abusing them, not the use of them in and of themselves.