what happens in Vegas.....

I just got back from Las Vegas for the weekend. The things that you see there are just amazing. It seems like people cross over the city limits and completely abandon all self control. We were walking through the shopping area at the Bellagio when we saw a guy stumbling by with a beer in his hand and wet pants. The guy was so drunk that he pissed his pants, and this was only about 11 in the morning!!
On Saint Patty’s Day we saw a young guy literally falling over drunk, carrying a half empty bottle of Irish whiskey through another one of the high end hotels, it was 9 in the morning and we were sitting down to breakfast when we saw this. We saw women hanging out of the top of a limousine and flashing passers by. We saw gluttony on a whole new level at the buffet.
We saw very little self control.
I’ve been discussing the subject of self control with some friends lately. The topic came up when we were talking about the subject of alcohol consumption. Should Christians drink in public, or would that cause others to stumble? My response was, “when does self control come into play?” At what point are people responsible for their own actions regardless of what they see me doing? Does someone get a free pass to get drunk if they see me having a beer in public? One of the people involved in this discussion said that Christians should never drink in public just in case someone were to see you drinking and cause that person to stumble. I then asked if I should refrain from eating dessert in public, just in case someone who is struggling with over eating should see me enjoying the dessert thus causing them to stumble.
See my point?
When does self control come into play?


lee said...

vegas sounds a lot like the big sleazy...new orleans...

good post...

i keep wondering if Christians shouldn't be all the more obliged to drink publicly as a model...

for moderation & what not...

is this entirely out of the question?

if we could ever remove the "things" that set us apart from the evil, evil, world, maybe we could come closer at arrive at what authentic Christianity is supposed to look like?

Thomas Costello said...

We talked about booze in tibe this last week. To answer your question, self control is always in play. We never can use others as an excuse to sin. The point is being careful for weaker Christians. 1 Corinthians 8-10 lays out this argument perfectly. It is an exercize in love to lay down our rights to keep weaker brothers from falling. If this means not drinking in certain occasions I believe we are commanded not to do it. At the same time, if drinking will win someone for christ, or at least head them down that direction, we need to be willing to do that as well. We need to do the thing that shows the most love in each situation, and that may or may not include putting aside our personal desires.

ben said...

A friend of mine had grown very frustrated with his faith or rather actions in faith, specifically, reaching out to others with the "Good News"...
He'd grown so frustrated in fact that he stopped caring if he presented a "stumbling block" to others and so he found himself at the pub next door to the church on a sunday afternoon, beer in one hand, bible in the other.
By the time he'd consumed three beers and decided to leave the pub, he'd been approached by almost every person in the pub and asked about his bible and what he believed, he'd also been bombarded with questions about Life after death, Faith in God, Miracles, Salvation and Hell...all in all he'd been able to reach out to an entirely new community of seekers without even trying...he just showed up, bible in hand and enjoyed the company of some common "sinners" on a sunday afternoon.
So Self Control? Yes. It's good.
Moderation is good too, but not too much.
Being honest before God and allowing him to use you (inspite of you) in the most unlikely places - just by you being there? I'd prefer that.
Besides, I've found that people usually are more honest with themselves and what they really want after a few beers, shots, hits or lines anyhow...What better time to reach out?

Jeff said...

good thought.
self control? some christians I know who drink a beer at home, or a glass of wine from time to time, live in fear of being found out. so a drink in public for some of these folks is out of the question.

but in a place like vegas, these same folks would run like a prisonor just set free (some song)and loose their thoughts of self control.

my thoughts are this...if you want to drink then drink. in public, at home or where ever. freedom is not freedom if you are in bondage to keep it under wraps. but freedom has its responsibilities...not only NOT to do, but TO do.

life is to short to be anal about something like this.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Jimmy, you're awesome. I just happened to use that very same arguement during our Tribe discussion. I said, "We're not too careful to bring fattening food to a potluck even though we know that our friend is dieting and having a difficult time with her weight!" Great minds do think alike. I love Ben's comment. I should try that.

Thomas Costello said...

I thought you two had conspired, and planned this whole overeating thing as evidence. Here is the truth, It is a fine example, I just thing you will be hard pressed to find much in the bible that calls gluttony or overeating a "sin". Sure one could make a case that gluttony is not an action that God loves, but I think you will be hard pressed to find a place in scripture where we are commanded not to over eat.
The idea comes from the seven deadly sins, which although quite ancient future is not a biblical list. checkout deadlysins.com for more info on that. They are actually a tool used by the ancient catholic church to inspire people to repentence. The word for gluttony in the bible is actually something that implies a scandalous manner. Just becomming full is not a sin, if it is done without scandal. We don't all sin on thanks giving or super bowl sunday. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you see.

ben said...

I think the argument about not eating fattening food in front of dieting people is a valid one though...don't miss the point, I don't think it's about whether or not gluttony is a sin, it's about whether or not causing someone else to stumble is a sin.
If I say F*CK in front of my younger brother and suddenly he starts cursing like a sailor, I caused my younger brother to stumble, right?
Maybe cursing isn't a sin, but it's certainly not a good practice for "Well-Meaning Christians"...know what I mean?
So, is the sin that's in question the actual causing of someone else to do something that they shouldn't be doing? OR Does it only count if the action in question is severe enough to call it sin?

Matt said...

I think if I am in a place that serves alcohol and drinking, I can't be blamed if someone sees me drinking. What did they expect in that place? I look at Christ's example. He not only drank, he provided drink to a party in which everyone was presumably already half in the bag!

I hear people say all the time, "Drinking is fine in Europe. Everone drinks over there. Here in America it's frowned upon, so it's a sin here." What a load of crap. Who thinks its wrong? Pharisaical Christians. Average Joe on the street could care less if I beer bong everclear while running naked down the street (which I haven't done in a long time).

The only people I stop drinking for are christians who WANT to drink but feel bad about it, or former alchoholics who would be tempted to drink. I have a good friend who thinks its wrong for him to drink, and wouldn't try a drop if I paid him. I drink in front of him.

Drunkeness is the same kind of sin as gluttony. I wouldn't lead a brother into drunkeness, but into drinking? Sure. Twisting scripture to make drinking a "sacrificed to idols" thing is lame.

jimmy said...

Beer bong everclear whilst running naked down the street? You are a wild man Matt!!

I used the term gluttony in my original post not as a reference to the "7 deadly sins" but as a reference to the total loss of self control. Whether overeating is a sin or not, it is deadly. Obesity is the number two killer in the united states, and is quickly catching up to number one, which is tobacco related deaths.

My point wasn't whether or not it was a sin, my point was the issue of self control, and personal responsibility.

matt said...

I was agreeing with you.

I would happily treat a christian friend to a beer, but I'm not dragging him to a keg party and holding his feet for a keg stand.

jimmy said...

I hear you Matt. I should have been more specific. I was responding to Thomas' post on the "Seven Deadly Sins". Thomas and I have these great argume... I mean discussions on our sites. He is the Dr. Jeckle, to my Mr. Hyde, the Austin Powers, to my Dr. Evil, the Lucy, to my Ethel....

Thomas Costello said...

I hear your point gentlemen. I guess I am talking about something different than the rest of you. I am talking about sinning, not necessarily stumbling. I am not one for moral relativity, but I think that it must exist outside of things mentioned in scripture. Scripture is clear that drunkeness, and to an extent cursing is a sin. I cannot say for certain that eatig too much is a sin, becuase scripture is not clear on that. Therefore, it is not our place to hold someone else to extra-biblical restrictions. As an overweight man, I don't feel like it is a cycle of sin that has gotten me to this point, so I so not expect christians to keep me from stumbling into over eating.
Drunkeness on the other hand is a sin, explicitly. I understand where you are comming from but to me the illustration does not work because it deals with something that is not inharently wrong. It would be like saykng it is a sin to watch tv, before someone who is watching tv too much.

As for the validity of 1 corinthians 8 for the subject of drinking, I think it is perfectly valid. We need to look at the heart of that passage and find the application for ouor life today. If not to the area of drinking, where would you apply it? Perhaps we should just rip that page out of our bibles?

jimmy said...

I agree with you about the fact that scripture says that drunkeness is a sin. I also agree with you that eating is not inherently wrong. Can you agree with me that drinking in moderation is not inherently wrong?
I'm not arguing for the right to get plastered.
Thomas said, " it is not our place to hold someone else to extra-biblical restrictions." I agree completely. I don't believe that there are "biblical restrictions" about overeating in full view of someone with a weight problem. In the same way I don't think there are "biblical restrictions" about drinking (in moderation) in public.
I agree with Lee. I'm starting to think that Christians should be all the more obliged to drink in public as a model of approriate behavior.

Katie said last night, "If we are preaching that you can't drink then we are preaching opinion and not the word. If we start preaching opinion we have become a cult."

Matt said...

We need to look at the heart of that passage and find the application for ouor life today. If not to the area of drinking, where would you apply it? Perhaps we should just rip that page out of our bibles?

I just read through that passage and still see no direct application. Must every passage of scripture have some direct application to daily living today or be torn from our Bibles?

I wonder if we can imagine the situation in which a brother who recently worshipped another god and celebrated by worshipping and eating in that temple sees us in that same temple enjoying that same meat. We would know that there are no other gods, and that that meat is no different from any other meat. Yet to that new convert, that god whose temple we are eating in is still real, and that meat is magical. If he looses his faith in God or violates his conscience by going in to join you, he is ruined. It's a pretty good stretch to me to make that comparison to drinking unless you are talking about a former alcoholic.

You are right, gluttony is probably a bad compasison.