The following article is in no way referring to the Communion. There are many good brethren on both sides of the issue–some who believe wine to be the fruit of the vine, and others who believe grape juice to be the fruit of the vine (anyone who doesn’t believe this doesn’t belong in this fellowship).
There are some things about which the Scriptures teach us temperance and moderation; about other things we are taught by the same Word total abstinence. As Apostolics, our lives should be exemplary when it comes to discerning when we can have something in moderation and when we simply must not partake of something at all. To fail in this regard is to jeopardize completely our walk with God, and to possibly even forfeit our election as members of the Body of Christ.
Can we afford to dabble around with things that will lead us into sin? Is it possible that mere temperance in the viewing of the many sinful programs of television and video could prevent us from becoming contaminated therewith? No! A thousand times no! We would have a far greater chance of success at putting out a fire by spraying it with gasoline. When it comes to our old nature, we must not indulge in any pursuit that tends to feed our base desires, or that opens a door to our carnal instincts and lusts.
It is interesting to note that the use of tobacco is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. Yet, we dogmatically mandate absolute abstinence from tobacco in any form—even growing it or working in it! And with good reason. Tobacco is a nasty, foul toxin that irritates and aggravates virtually every system in the human body. One of its ingredients—nicotine—is a highly addictive drug. Tobacco is a terrible thing, and it ought to be forbidden even though there is no explicit reference in the Scripture to it.
Yet, tobacco does not cause thousands of traffic fatalities each year; it does not break hundreds of homes and hearts each day. Using tobacco does not cause an individual to commit violent crimes against society and against nature. Nor does it have the potential to cause a senseless stupor if it is over-indulged. Have you ever heard of anyone passing out because they smoked too many cigarettes?
Should we teach temperance and moderation in the use of tobacco? Never! Complete and total abstinence is our message, and well it should be. People that use tobacco are slaves to it; they cannot “use” it without “abusing” it!
However, alcohol has been shown to be guilty of all of the above crimes. And for some reason totally beyond our comprehension, there are some who are suggesting that alcohol can be taken in moderation. Total abstinence, they say, is not enjoined by Holy Writ. “Use it; don’t abuse it” is their mantra. Temperance is touted as the proper method of dealing with this highly toxic and addictive substance.
We protest! This simply is not Apostolic Doctrine. We are totally against using alcohol in moderation. Any other message is at least hypocrisy, and at most the categorical equivalent of heresy. To promote the moderate use of alcohol, while demanding total abstinence from tobacco and television, is at once ridiculous and fatuous. And it is as futile as it is feeble.
Rev. Tim D. Cormier
Reprinted from the February, 1999 issue of the Apostolic Standard.