In the spirit of humility I confess that part of me wants to talk about the 4 ‘acceptable’ sins of the church because I am angry at ‘the church’. While I don’t want to let the enemy use me to tear down God’s family, I do think we need to have good conversations about why some sins are ‘accepted’ by the church (legal substance addiction, gluttony, greed and gossip) while others are not (sexual sin).
My approach to each post will be to define the criteria for the ‘acceptance’ of certain sins and to investigate what God’s Word has to say on the subject. I will also explore whether the church’s actions are misaligned with Scripture and what we as a body of believers can do about it.
When I say ‘the church’ I am speaking about the corporate and organized body of Christ. Of course I’ve only ever been to a few churches in my life so it is possible that your particular church is different from the ones I’ve visited.
I’ll begin the series by discussing the ‘acceptance’ of legal substance addiction by the church, specifically prescription drug addiction and caffeine addiction.
1. How does the church ‘accept’ legal substance addiction:
- My church offers free coffee every service; I’ll bet yours does, too
- When was the last time you heard a sermon against coffee consumption? How about a sermon on the subject of prescription drug addiction? (Compare your count here to the number of sermons you’ve heard on jealously, adultery, tithing, etc.)
- How many of your friends openly use caffeine and/or prescription drugs to excess? Have you confronted them about their addiction? (I drink 2-3 cups of coffee every day and no-one has said a word)
- How many individuals have you heard of being counseled or reprimanded by the church for caffeine or prescription drug addiction? (Compare your count here to the number of husbands you’ve heard of being counseled for pornography use)
2. What does God’s Word have to say:
- Prescription drugs and caffeine did not exist in 1st century Palestine, nor in the Near East at any time prior to that. Thus these substances are not explicitly called out in Scripture
- In the grip of all addictions we lose control of ourselves and give that control to a substance or practice. Without my morning coffee I am tired, slow, ineffective as an employee, and grouchy with my family (Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”)
- Coffee and prescription drugs are not cheap. The National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America estimate that the U.S. spends $18 billion annually on coffee. Our country spent over $35 billion on the top 10 prescription drugs in 2010. How many people spend $4 per day on coffee or spend hundreds of dollars on a prescription drug addiction but can’t find room in the budget to tithe? (Malachi 3:8 “‘Will a man rob God?’ ‘Yet you rob me.’ ‘But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ ‘In tithes and offerings'”)
- As Christians we have a duty to confront each others’ sins (Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”)
3. Is the church misaligned with Scripture?
- Maybe. You could argue that the church ‘enables’ caffeine addictions by serving free coffee during services
- The church is very good at taking a stand against other mood-altering drugs like alcohol and marijuana
- We fail to act as our ‘brother’s keepers’ anytime we fail to confront an addiction in a fellow Christian’s life. Letting someone remain enslaved to any addiction, even prescription drugs, without confronting them fails to uphold Scripture
- It seems to me that the issue of caffeine addiction as a sin would be considered laughable by most people because of the culture’s complete acceptance of the practice
- While confronting pornography addiction is en vogue these days, it seems that confronting prescription drug addiction wouldn’t be polite
4. What can we do about it?
- I’m not convinced by my own argument that caffeine addiction is a sin, but that could be the syncretism talking…
- I do need to pray about my own caffeine consumption because I don’t like the idea that I’m a different person without my morning coffee
- If we know of someone with a prescription drug addiction we should drop any pretense of being polite and gently confront them
What are your thoughts?