Wednesday Morning Confession

This could send you running for the hills.

Maybe.

But that’s not the point of this vlog.

These are my thoughts on drinking, church unity and why we should all just get along…

This could send you running for the hills… from Sarah Markley on Vimeo.

If you can’t view the video, click here.

{Vimeo is NOT my first choice but I was having some serious issues with YouTube last night. So I gave up. Probably too many LOL cat videos being uploaded.}

Comments

  1. Nikki B says

    Oh, Sarah, this hits so close to home today. My husband I have been discussing for awhile why I feel like I can’t fully be me and write about unsafe topics. I think some of it was the years we spent in ministry and not feeling free to be the controversial or opinionated pastor’s wife so as not to turn away lost people. If it worked and my lack of controversy allowed people to come to Christ then it was worth it, but I think I lost some of myself in the process. Kevin was just recently encouraging me to continue to write more and not be afraid to write what I think about controversial issues like politics and parenting and education. So I did. And holy cow, after a day like yesterday, am I getting grief for it. I am a conservative surrounded by many liberal Christians. I’ve gotten name-called, pigeon-holed, and defriended all in the last 24 hours for things I’ve written that I intentionally pored over so that they wouldn’t sound too controversial. It’s so strange to me b/c I don’t understand why people in the Body don’t want to show freedom to one another when it comes to “non-essentials.” But then I remember, I, too, used to be like that. I, too, used to be judgmental of those who thought differently than me (and, oh, how easily it is to go back to that even now!) I, too, deemed some things essential that simply were not. Yuck. I think sometimes God lets us have the reaping/sowing experience so we don’t go back where we were.

    O.K., sorry that was long and full of self-processing. Thanks for this video and for being honest and vulnerable about your thoughts and feelings, you lush. O.K., I am TOTALLY kidding! I just had to be the real me and throw in a joke. I’ll quit now and go find a Bacardi mixer I’m sure I have stashed around here somewhere so that you can feel better about yourself. Love your heart, sister…

  2. says

    Sarah,

    Well, I think you step out of the “safety” writing here and it went really, really well! I’m excited for you.

    This discussion has blossomed since I commented and everyone is remaining respectful of one another.

    I believe you have done well, and have quite a diverse community of readers. Praise God for using you in this dynamic manner.

    TeeHee…I came back to read what I skimmed earlier. ;)

    Blessings! Andrea

  3. Esa says

    I agree wholeheartedly that Christians are way too judgemental. Both to each other and to non-Christians. But, I disagree completely that a Christian can drink alcohol and not taint their witness. You never know whom you might cause to stumble by your drinking (even in moderation). If we engage in all the same activities as the secular world, what makes us any different? Paul told Timothy to “take a little wine for his stomach’s sake”…..that tells me that “strong drink” (which is different from wine or ‘fruit of the vine’) was used in Bible times for medicinal purposes. Here is a great article that explains it well. I hope you will read it without thinking I am judging you.

    http://www.amazingfacts.org/FreeStuff/OnlineLibrary/tabid/106/ctl/ViewMedia/mid/447/IID/70/LNG/en/7/The-Christian-and-Alcohol/SC/R/Default.aspx

    • Sarah Markley says

      Hi Esa,

      I appreciate your link and your comment. it was a very long article and i skimmed it. I understand Mr. Batchelor’s point of view.

      I don’t know what else to say except that I’m sorry you feel that way and i’m sorry that things like this divide believers.

      you are not alone in your views, but then again, neither am i. there are many, bible-believing and christ-following people who would disagree with both of us.

      i hope this has not changed your view of me. but i am guessing that it has.

  4. Esa says

    I’m sorry that things like this divide believers too. Drinking alcohol should be the last issue that divides believers, since it is harmful to both the human body and the body of Christ.

    My point is that you have a large readership (judging by the comments from this post) and with that comes a responsibility. You have made it known that you have a relationship with Christ, yet now you have made it known that you also think it is okay to drink alcohol. There may be people out there who have a problem with alcohol who read this and think “maybe it’s okay for me to continue to drink”. there are people whose lives have been ruined because of alcohol….so your declaration that social drinking is AOK, may be hurtful to them. There may be people who are reading your blog who were on the fence as to whether alcohol consumption is permissible for Christians….your blog post may have changed their mind. What if you are wrong? What if you are leading them astray? What if an unbeliever reads this and is completely confused about who/what is right and who is wrong— it’s easier sometimes to walk away from God than to discern Truth.

    If there were no question as to whether drinking alcohol is acceptable to God, then this would not even be an issue on your blog…..anymore than if it is acceptable to God to drink milk. But, there is a question. That is why I think it is best not to do it. In matters of “causing your brother to stumble”….it’s always best to err on the side of caution. What benefit do you get from drinking alcohol that is worth tainting your testimony for Christ?

    As for changing my view of you….my view of you does not matter in the least. It’s God’s view that we need to be concerned about. My view is that you are a Christian woman living in a lost world and just trying to do the best you can….which is what many of us are doing. I am not judging you — only Jesus can judge — I am simply telling you how I see your comments. It’s easy to post a blog when everyone is cheering you on and saying “I totally agree with you”, but this is one post I cant read without disagreeing.

    • Sarah Markley says

      i’m glad that you feel free enough to disagree. i completely appreciate it.

      maybe then the question should turn this direction: how many people have been hurt by the church because they didn’t feel free to dialogue about something that is “questionable”. i can point you to story after story of those who have been “led astray” by the church’s unwillingness to talk about cultural issues.

      i didn’t intend to hurt anyone by my video blog. my point was that to even engage in this discussion is pointless because it shouldn’t matter. the alcohol was an example.

      i’m sorry if what i said hurt you.

    • says

      Hi Esa,
      Curious … what does it look like if we replace “drinking alcohol” in your comment with gluttony?

      “Gluttony should be the last issue that divides believers, since it is harmful to both the human body and the body of Christ.”

      How often has gluttony divided (or even concerned) believers?

      I don’t know what role the misuse of alcohol has played in your life — I’m sorry if it has caused you pain. But the responsible drinking of alcohol is not the same as the misuse of alcohol … just like eating to live is not the same as gluttony.

  5. says

    I truly think this is a cultural discussion. When we lived in France, many different French believers approached us saying something like, “Why in the world would you use grape juice during communion?” To them it was just plain wrong.

    • says

      Mary,

      In my Ukrainian culture, we use wine for communion and using grape juice is severely looked down on.

      So I can understand where the French are coming from. lol

  6. Corrie Phillips says

    Well, I’m just a little bundle of contradictions, because I agree with you, and Esa, and with Mary. (And I drink sometimes! Oh, boy….)

    A couple of things to make my point: You said there was 5 years before you were able to come to that place of liberty, and Mary said it was a cultural thing. I remember discussing this with my great uncle, a minister devoted to Christ. He said, “you and I understand Christian Liberty and our freedom in Christ from the law, but in this culture, there are many non-believers who have not yet experienced it and have heard that Christians don’t drink. If I, as a Christian, drink in front of them, I may confirm their suspicion that Christians are hypocrites. Of all the ways that I may fall and cause a brother to stumble, this one is very simple to avoid.” It’s hard to argue with that.

    (He is 81, and has drawn so many people gently to the Lord, it makes me get tears in my eyes.)

    So, my point is that we can and should live in freedom, but Paul reminded us, as well, to be mindful of our company and the customs of the people we are with.

    But I overall do agree with you… We are free, AND we should be defined by our unity. That was a great line.

    I love this one: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant- not of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

    I’d say the spirit gives us freedom and discretion.

    As far as judgement of other believers, my pastor said something so good. He said “Suppose she comes to church dressed inappropriately. Okay. She and God have something to work on. But suppose you judge her for that. Guess what? Now YOU and God have something to work on!”

    I guess I didn’t exactly make a “point” in my response, did I? Just some things to think about. I am a work in progress.

  7. Corrie Phillips says

    oooh. When I said “I’d say the spirit gives us freedom and discretion,” it almost sounded like I was saying it as a change to the “gives us life”, which I most emphatically was not doing. Woops. I need to reread before I send. Living in the spirit gives us freedom and discretion… you know what I mean I hope.

  8. says

    Why do we make alcohol such an issue? Why do we care so much what others do in their free time? Who made the church the Moral JURY?

    Christians in the USA, we live and react out of fear. Afraid of what others will think. Which believers or nonbelievers we are leading astray? How our witness is being portrayed? Being politically correct. Spiritually correct. We are so caught up in being right and that group over there being wrong that we miss a pretty important point: WE ARE ALL WRONG!

    We are all dregs and sinners and fall short of God’s glory. Because ultimately this is about HIM. We can’t live in unity until we start to put the focus back on the KING of kings. I think if we call ourselves followers of Christ then we need to take the time to just get over ourselves…then maybe we will in humility be able to recognize the Divine imprint in every single person. Whether they drink, are gay, gluttonous, gossips, or are addicted to self.

    If we are really focusing on Christ…then these issues are not a big deal.

    • says

      We should not be condemning, but we should be reconciling those who are caught in deliberate, willful, continual sin back to the Lord. This includes ourselves. Do we all sin daily? Yes. Do we all need to confess our sin and seek reconciliation? Yes. Should we be ignoring sin in our lives and the lives of fellow believers? No. I would hope other believers would lovingly bring me back into the fold, so to speak, if I stray. In my focus on Christ, I will do the same for others.

      • says

        I didn’t mention ignoring sin. I mentioned our fear of doing right or wrong based on others’ expectations. Our fear of speaking out about our truth because of how others will react. Condemning what isn’t ours to condemn. We feel the need to fix people…when it isn’t ours to fix. If we take a moment to focus on being lovers of truth, living in truth with each other, pursuing unity…then we won’t get so caught up in who is going what sin and where and when and how.
        We focus more on the sin, then we do the human being.
        We focus more on fixing, then we do loving.

        Sin needs to be dealt with, I 100% agree, but nobody wants to bring their stuff to people who judge first and love later.
        The second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus doesn’t say fix them, judge them, condemn them…he says love them. We want to be united? Then we need to love each other.

          • says

            On this we agree. Love. All we do should be about love. But that includes correction, discipline, and reconciliation. They are not mutually exclusive. We need to do it all in love, with gentleness and respect. But not to do anything about sin is not love. But it sounds like we agree here too.

            And I would never presume I could do what only the work of the Holy Spirit can do in a person’s life, that is, changing their hearts (i.e. fixing them), but I will do my best to be a loving sentinel of truth, as I pray others would do for me. I hope I don’t focus more on people’s sin than I do on loving them; I don’t take a magnifying glass to every person that comes my way with the intent to pluck out sin. We ALL sin. It’s chiefly the presumptious sin (sinning with a high hand) that really needs to be dealt with using appropriate church discipline. That is what I’m talking about.

            And I would hope fear of man (which is a snare) would not be my reason (or anyone’s) for striving to live in holiness. Only fear of God.

            I doubt Sarah intended this deep of a theological discussion on church unity, but…it is what it is, and may the Lord use it to strengthen His church.

  9. Kerry says

    i know this is helping to stray off the original point of the vlog, that we (the Church) need to start being known for our unity (and i would add, being known for what we DO more than our lists of what we DON’T do), but i’m just wondering out loud here and then i will get back on topic:

    to go with some logic that has been expressed here, am i to believe that there are grown Christian men and women getting on blogs all over the internet and making their life decisions (controversial or not) based on what bloggers are doing?

    if so, are we really THAT lazy that we don’t want to bother asking the Spirit to specifically guide us in this area (and many other areas) of our own lives?

    why bother with a relationship with Christ at all if all i have to do is see what Sarah is doing and then do it?

    if you HAVE asked God and are certain that he’s told you NOT to drink, then don’t. i just don’t see it as our job to ask God if Sarah should drink and then kindly let her know what He told us. :-)

    to get back to the vlog, i think if we were to realize and believe that any “right” choice we make in our lives is only because of Christ in us, rather than because we are so smart and spiritual, we’d be less likely to pat ourselves on the back and look down on others. our unity would be based on the wonder of God working in us and through us and truly in spite of us…

  10. Casey says

    My take away isn’t that you were saying that you necessarily believe drinking is fine in all circumstances, or seeking feedback on your view on drinking (as some readers are focused on agreeing or disagreeing with your views on drinking and being a Christian). I may have missed the point, but the conviction and take away I have was to be less careless with my quickness to judge. I am growing in my faith and maturity in Christ, I will stumble. I will continue to evolve as the Lord lays conviction on my heart, and my views of drinking, or homosexuality, or politics (to name your examples)that are fitting for me today may change during a different season of my life.
    So, what I’m trying to say as someone that has been “stalking” your blog daily since I found it a few months back, is thank you for your honesty. For being brave to not play it safe, for acknowledging your comfort zone and sharing the desires of your heart for peace and love rather to be so quick to judge, categorize, and stereotype- but even more the challenge to think and grow every day–and yet again with this vlog.

  11. Corrie Phillips says

    In truth and love, I am going to throw this scripture in. Not because I disagree with you, Sarah, or because I don’t understand where you’re coming from, Jessica. But because these words of Jesus are pretty heavy, and should give us pause, lest we go too far in to Christian liberty without understanding our responsibilities. It’s one of the passages in Matthew that makes me nervous, but does seem relevant to the conversation.

    Matthew 18:6-9 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

    Later in that chapter, Jesus talks about discipline among believers. He does say to discipline each other. Again, there is this delicate balance- this narrow road- with being judgmental on one side, and tolerating sin on the other. How do we walk that? I tell you, I don’t know. Cautiously, prayerfully, in the spirit of love and truth. Forgiving seventy times seven and getting the log out of our own eye… Certainly, at least if you’re ME, failing all the time.

    • says

      hi corrie

      i love matthew 17 and 18. thank you for the reminder. however, with seriously all respect, i’m honestly not sure how those verses apply to the video about christian unity.

      perhaps you mean that we as the body of christ should be helping each other along to do good and to love well, and that when we do not we lead one another astray?

      the point of the video was not about me having a glass of wine once in awhile, but it was about the fact that we focus on silly things when we really should be focusing on how we are defined as those who follow christ. we should be known by our love for each other and not for our inter-fighting.

      seriously, this is with respect. i do respect your point of view very much, just a little confused about how that passage relates.

      • Corrie Phillips says

        Sorry Sarah! I don’t attend a church (and never have) where this is a divisive issue. I thought everybody knew that Jesus liked wine as much as he liked fish and bread. My great uncle’s stand was a personal one and based on his effect on others. At my church we use grape juice for communion because we all respect how far those in our drug and alcohol program have come. Some just can’t have a sip. Our church (It is called “Real Life Ministries”) is so grace filled and full of love and understanding that I think sometimes we cut out the hard passages. I’m totally on board with the church unity thing. I hope you can see that from my first comment. Jesus obviously commanded us to love one another. He obviously condemned legalism. But – talk about silly- Jesus said in Matthew 5 that if we just say, “you fool” we are in danger of hell. If we look lustfully at someone, we should gouge out our eye. I just thought that that part of what He said should be thrown in the conversation, to give us pause. It was in response to the comments that were leaning toward “what does it matter what people do?” I actually had a Pina Colada on Halloween, and my Kat Von D costume ended up making me look a little (or I don’t know…a lot) like a prostitute. (That was an accident!) I think it was okay, because I wasn’t with anyone who was hurt by that. But I think I’m supposed to be ready to lop off the tattooed arm with the pina colada if it ever were to cause someone to turn from the Lord. I just didn’t think we should forget that part. Sorry that the quoted passage was more directed at comments than at the original subject.

        • Corrie Phillips says

          Specifically, it was in response to Jessica’s concern that we are too worried about who we may lead astray. I should have been more direct. I am so shutting the heck up now.

  12. says

    I think you’re words were carefully measured and obviously something you have been pondering and praying on for a long time. God convicts us where we most need it and sometimes those convictions change. We do need to be careful to keep in mind those who are “weaker,” and not contribute to or participate in sinful behavior. It seems to me that you have done just that, you have spoken your heart and been careful to unpack and be clear. You write the things God is showing you and your readers need not be fearful of what you will say but of the God that has given them a spirit of discernment and the Word of God to test what is good. I am thankful for your courage and your desire to go into the messy places and find God and what He is up to, because yes… even He is there.

  13. Corrie Phillips says

    One more thing? (Can you tell I think abut this subject a lot? My husband wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and doesn’t live as a believer, and also I want approval- want to be “normal”, so this issue is around my life all the time.)

    Halloween. You mentioned that. My sister’s sweet mother-in-law, who treats my kids like her own grandkids, throws a big Halloween shin-dig for all of our family. Bless her heart. I would NEVER as a Christian, think I should make her feel uncomfortable about that. So we all dress up and go. This year I was in the Halloween store, buying tattoos and a wig so I could dress up as Kat Von D. (See? I’m already 3 or 4 baby steps away from where I should probably be… I watch reality TV, I dress up as a less than wholesome character, and finally, I am supporting a store that has some things that I don’t feel good about.) I become increasingly uncomfortable having the kids in the store with me. There’s a costume that is just a jumpsuit with a part that sticks out as an erection at their eye level. There is a wet tee shirt costume, also at eye level. Well, I get my tattoos and my wig, and go to the counter, where facing me is the section titled “Wicked Innocence”, which is really sleazy costumes for 9-12 year old girls. I was horrified. I wanted to complain, but I was already so many steps in… what ground was I on? What could I say, standing there with my Kat Von D costume? I gave the people my money, and left. The experience made me realize how quickly my baby steps had got me way off course.

  14. says

    Unless we talk about the ‘hot’ topics how can we learn to be unified while still having our differences?

    As believers, we do need to stop condemning and judging others whose convictions do not match our own. While there are issues that are black and white in the Bible there are also issues (such as drinking in moderation) that aren’t very clear.

    We just have to be discerning…if I am with a friend who has a problem with alcohol, I won’t drink. If I am with a friend who thinks it is wrong to trick or treat on halloween, I won’t take her kids.
    But, I may not have been convicted by God over those particular issues.

    Thanks for touching on the subjects that are hot topics and forcing all of us to re-think the way that we view others.

    Great vlog today!

  15. wendy says

    Jesus’ first miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding. Why did He begin his ministry with this particular miracle … creating alcohol for others to drink … after the rest of the wine had run out? Interesting.

  16. says

    Great thoughts, Sarah.

    Some friends of mine abstain from alcohol completely because it is a stumbling block for them. Others notice that it is hard to define the point where alcohol consumption moves from an acceptable level to “too much” – is it three beers, or four? or two? – so they avoid the problem altogether by not drinking at all. Others (like me) have a drink every once in a while, in moderation.

    In my opinion, all are acceptable ways of handling alcohol, suited to our own temperaments. I’m thankful that our friends recognize this, understand and accept each other’s personal approach to alcohol consumption, and do not allow it to become a divisive issue.

    Just like the Texas Rangers chose to celebrate their victory with ginger ale out of respect for Josh Hamilton’s sobriety, I think we need to be sensitive about how we handle alcohol around others, but I don’t think that means that all Christians must abstain from alcohol completely. Obviously we don’t want to break out a bucket of chocolate cake around someone who has an eating problem, but that doesn’t mean that someone is wrong for having a small slice of cake for dessert in a different setting.

    I like what it says in Titus 3:9 – But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

    We could spend forever arguing about alcohol, but why? Instead, let’s spend that time showing love and grace, and building each other up. Cheers!

    • says

      Well said, Larry. My husband and I both enjoy alcohol. However, we do not consume around friends and family who struggle with or disagree with the issue. Nor do we try to change their minds or convince them that consumption is okay. There are those who truly believe it is sin. And, if they went against their personal, moral conscience, it just might would be sin for them. I don’t know. For us, it is okay.

      Sarah, great vlog. Perhaps, one day, I should be so brave to blog my “confessions.”

  17. Jo says

    I’ve been reading your blogs for a while now Sarah and I just wanted to say where in the Bible does it say that alcohol is wrong?

    I’m Irish (living in Ireland) and while we’re famed for being great drinkers we’re also very strong believers in our faith. Despite the problems that have arisen with priests in the past few years.

    I know I’m speaking generally but my grandmother goes to mass every Sunday and a couple of times a week, she would think nothing of having a glass of wine with dinner. I don’t see where the two overlap.

    I would also like to state that if you have a problem with alcohol then reading/listening to somebody saying that they like a glass of wine every so often isn’t going to make you go out and drink. Life is full of choices and it is in how we make those choices that we honour our faith.

    Having a glass of wine every once in a while is infinitely different to being an alcoholic and perhaps somebody can explain to me why drinking wine makes you a bad christian?

    Keep blogging Sarah, your way of changing your life is inspirational.

  18. tiffany says

    Sarah,

    Well my dearest sis…I love that you stuck your neck out on this issue of Unity! It is at the core of all the scriptures from beginning to end. I know it greieves the Lord’s heart that we get hung up on issues that are or should remain as a conviction of an individual as the Lord leads. We are to deal with sin…and the Lord will then take care of the sinner as we press on in the Lord.

    I am an American missionary living in the UK where drinking is not an issue of how strong your walk is with the Lord. The pub life is part of the everyday life here. That’s not to say that its all good, but it is part of the culture. I was squirmish when I first moved here adjusting to this way of life, but not judgemental.

    I abstain from drink purely because I don’t like it and because of my heart convictions as a pastor’s wife. I do take the stance that we need to be mindful where people are coming from as to not stumble or misguide, but I have no problem with going out with friends who like having a drink with their dinner or something especially if its in the privacy of someones home.

    Those who we are around in our fellowship and elsewhere know where we stand and respect that position. We don’t make it the main issue unless there’s an issue of intoxication and so the Lord has His way in the lives of those around us as they see our example.

    Plus…there are sooooo many other “issues” that we need to take heed to when it comes to our walks with God so don’t get hung up on this one issue.

    “…every city or house divided against itself will not stand” Matt. 12:25 We are the house of God! Living Stones being fit together with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone!

    Let’s keep things scriptural…don’t get intoxicated, drink in moderation as to not stumble or injure another brother and keep Jesus the focus at all times for He desires the unity of the body and deserves our praise and glory!

    I love you wonderful lady! Press on!

  19. Teresa says

    Hi Sarah,
    I just wanted to say, I have battled this. I have not drank in two months because of it. But, for me, it is because of what it is doing to me. What it was doing to my family. It was right for me to stop drinking. But, just like everything else, I think it is something that you work out with God, not everyone else.
    I think you are wonderful.