I am part of a denomination that takes a strong stand on the consumption of alcohol. The stand of the denomination is not moderation, but rather abstinence. It attempts to draw on human experience, scientific findings and social responsibility for justification, since obviously the Bible has nothing against non-abusive alcohol consumption.
The most interesting argument was expressed today in my 8 am class. While it is usually the case that no deep or productive thinking happens so early for me, our class took place in the cafeteria, and coffee was indeed a factor.
The argument went like this: the alcohol industry spends more per year on advertising than the United States spends on education. The alcohol industry is (at least in some way) responsible for the death of minors who consume it and then have fatal car accidents. For these reasons, alcohol as an industry is to be opposed vehemently. Our manual has more to say about alcohol than any other contemporary social issue, and much of the justification is moving toward an opposition to the industry and not necessarily the product.
But using this logic causes some problems. First of all, how are we to justify our support of the gun industry by this reasoning? However you feel about gun laws, it seems to me that we allow ourselves to emphasize personal responsibility when opposing gun control, but throw it out the window when it comes to alcohol. “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” And from the same lips we hear “Alcohol kills people.” Hypocrisy? I prefer the words of a usually less-than-funny comedian: “Guns don’t kill people. Husbands who come home early do.”
Secondly, how we can take such a “Christian” stance against the industry of alcohol but remain silent when large corporations use abusive child labor to make their product cheaply overseas? How can we object to consuming alcohol but have no moral issue with wearing Nike shoes? How can we object to the negative societal effect of Budweiser and their advertising and then turn a blind eye to the ways that Wal-Mart causes and capitalizes on the failure of small businesses?
If we would like to take a strong stance on alcohol, by means of the effects of it as an industry, we have no right to reverse the logic for products we wish to defend, or to remain silent on industries that violate human rights or subvert progressive and fair economics.