December 17, 2017

A Modest Proposal

David Potter

The hysteria over the recent school shootings set me to thinking about protecting our children. The knee-jerk reaction of many people is to want to ban guns. Ironically, most of the celebrities and politicians who call for banning guns for ordinary people have armed body guards 24/7. Protection for me but not for thee.

I do think that protecting our children with something more than just symbolism is important. A certain substance kills far more children than guns every year: alcohol. If we should ban something in order to protect our children it should be alcohol. Reenact the 14th Amendment. Restore the Volstead Act. The restriction on alcohol traffic during Prohibition probably saved many more lives than the number of victims of gang warfare connected with bootlegging.

Stopping people from drinking alcohol would not only prevent drunk driving, it would save thousands of children from injury and death in violent incidents in which alcohol is a factor. Guns do not cause people to go crazy. They are only a means by which crazy and malicious people cause bad things to happen. Just like an automobile driven by a drunk. The car is not the problem. The alcohol is. Banning alcohol makes more sense than banning guns, because banning alcohol bans the cause, rather than the means. Prohibition. It’s for the children.

I offer the above suggestion in jest. In the first place, it won’t happen. In the second place, Prohibition was more a product of the Social Gospel than the real Gospel. Nevertheless, the problem is a serious one. A society in which drinking alcohol carries a stigma would be preferable to the one in which we live. How could that happen? If Christians would renounce all drinking of alcoholic beverages and pastors would preach against it from the pulpit, would that not have some good effect?

Some of the same people who wanted us to embrace the social mandate are now insisting on the right to drink alcohol in moderation in the name of Christian liberty. If you want to do some good for society, start campaigning against alcohol in your church.

Many doctrines have what we call “chair passages,” places that explain that doctrine most clearly and extensively. For the resurrection, for instance, that passage is I Corinthians 15. For faith, it is Hebrews 11. We would do well to interpret other statements of Scripture in the light of the chair passage. For alcohol, the chair passage is Proverbs 23:29-35. When in doubt, interpret other passages on wine in the light of this clear one. If condemning alcohol consumption offends, so be it. Do we care more about the well-being of others or about their feelings?

Above all, put the real Gospel first. Genuine change comes from within.

David Potter serves as a missionary in Hungary with Baptist World Mission.

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