Liquor in Church? Not in Maryland.

March 22, 2005 by

A Maryland church caused a ruckus after applying for a liquor license for their new banquet hall, and then quickly withdrew the application after a state lawmaker raised concerns.

“Many communities are concerned about the real intent of the church when people who are very devoted to the Christian principles apply for a liquor license,” said lawmaker Joanne C. Benson.

I’m not much of a drinker myself—communion wine is all I ever imbibe, and I don’t even like the taste of that—but I don’t see why the church has to be so incredibly anti-alcohol. I would think being devoted to Christian principles would require a responsible approach to alcohol, not an abdication. Certainly the church shouldn’t be encouraging drunkenness, but why can’t a church-owned banquet hall be a safe place to drink alcohol?

What would it say to the community if the church stepped up and brought responsibility to alcohol? What if the church’s banquet hall was a place where you could have a wedding or other party, serve alcohol, and not be worried about drunken guests? What if the church led the way in helping recovering alcoholics, in stopping underage drinking, in ending drunk driving, and in providing a setting where responsible drinking could happen?

Instead of facing tough issues and trying to be a voice of societal change, we get backpedaling: “We choose not to present this type of image to our church and local community,” wrote the church’s senior pastor Bishop Don Meares. Too bad Jesus set a different precedent when he changed water in to wine.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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9 Responses to “Liquor in Church? Not in Maryland.”

  • Isabella Awkard
    April 9, 2007

    While we would like to apply our opinion of why not to such an issue, we just can not. The church is more or less a hospital full of sick people trying to get well, to be free of the bondage of addiction or dependency on things that kill the body and pollute the spirit. There are many people in the church that deny that they have problems, and a drinking addiction most likely would be hidden amongst them. Any responsible leader could not in good faith allow this sort of thing to be promoted and supported under their leadership because it would undermine the teachings stemming from that leadership. Jesus said that he did not come for the righteous, but for the sinners. Those who are well have no need for a physician!!! There would be no way for a church to serve liquor to its members socially and know that there is no one addicted to the stuff being served. This would also help to keep such a person in bondage and give the church another black eye in the sight of society.

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  • Sara Purinton
    May 28, 2007

    I am so glad that this comment was posted above me. I have never been to this website before, I found it on accident but I was so upset by what was written that I felt it absolutely necessary to comment. To say that it is a good idea for churches to be places for responsible drinking is dangerous! There are so many recovering alcoholics, so many potential alcholics, that could be harmed more than you would ever know by this act. Whatever happened to not doing anything that would make your brother stumble? You would be flaunting your non-addiction in the alcoholics’ faces, and you have no idea what damage that could do to them and their walk with God. I am SO glad that someone else posted about how incorrect your idea is!

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  • Gloria
    May 29, 2007

    There is something deeper in the psyche of someone addicted to something that the thing itself. Just ask any one who has forgone one addiction for another– smoking for eating, eating for shopping.
    Why shouldn’t the church be a place to find healing and a person to stand next to an alcoholic and say, “Yes, there is a drink right there, but you’re not going to take it because Jesus is all you need.Let’s just celebrate and enjoy life.”
    There is always going to be alcohol in the world, and there’s always going to be food. I don’t think it’s practical to tell someone “avoid it all together,” and expect that that will solve the problem.
    I don’t think “there are alcoholics” is a reasoned argument for why a church should not be able to have a liquor license. I’m not saying I’d do it, but I don’t think you’ve convinced me that no one should, either.

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  • noah
    May 29, 2007

    Thanks Gloria. Is everyone in the church an alcoholic now? I’m confused at that arguement.
    So as Christians, the only place we can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine is in a bar or in our homes? Why not have a Christian bar where Christians and others have a place to hang and drink responsibly? There would be a line that could be crossed, but would that happen anyway if one were to cross the line in some bar or at a party? Why not cross it in a place where you are surrounded by fellow church believers?
    I think this is something we should discuss and not just put up our noses at the idea. Were so socialized in the church on certain issues, its time we discuss why we believe and why we do what we do.

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  • Rebecca
    May 30, 2007

    I have mixed feelings about churches serving alcohol — I suppose it would depend on how it’s done, in what sort of setting, and whether or not there are safeguards built in.
    It does seem odd that we have to learn about alcohol from the world, and that too many churches are strangely silent on the issue of how a Christian should use alcohol, other than “DON’T!”
    It also seems hypocritical that churches have no problem with potlucks, and with tempting recovering gluttons (or practicing gluttons) to over-indulge. The church is not a supportive or safe place for those who struggle with gluttony, compulsive over-eating, or food issues. When the church (used generically for “most churches in America”) is ready to deal with the issue of gluttony, then maybe they can handle the issue of over-indulging in alcohol.

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  • Geoff Brown
    May 30, 2007

    Rebecca, thanks for the mention of compulsive overeating. Given the current epidemic of obesity in America today with all of the long term negative impacts of it, it might be more important for churches to cut out serving food than cut out serving alcohol.
    That’s said a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s certainly something to think about.

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  • Ann
    September 8, 2007

    Why do we need to drink alcohol? Speaking as a Black person, all I’ve seen in my 61 years is how alcohol has destroyed Black families, individuals, etc. I’m no bible scholar but doesn’t it mention something about living soberly? What about putting our energies on getting quality education for all children (especially Blacks); getting affordable housing for single females — and oh yes, there are single males who desire to raise their children, also – they could use some help & encouragement. (Maybe the church could look into getting some kinds of grants to assist those who need jobs & education so that they would be able to pay rent); what about more programs for helping ex-convicts get back into the mainstream in a positive way — some of them can’t get jobs. We have a lot of WORK to do . . . we don’t have time to worry about having alcohol at a church wedding reception. I didn’t have any alcohol at my wedding reception and I have been married for 41 years. So I made out alright without alcohol — wouldn’t you say? If alcohol is that important to these people, let them go out to a big hotel or a big club and have all the alcohol they want and leave the church to live holy and soberly as the bible suggests.

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  • Ann
    September 8, 2007

    The comments I wrote today, September 8, 2007, went in under the name of “Geoff Brown”. Those comments regarding the church living holy and soberly and concentrating on getting quality education for the youth, below to me — “Ann”. I wrote that, Mr. Brown. I don’t know what happened.

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  • Dan Ball
    August 1, 2009

    In the old testament church during the times of Jesus the church drank wine. R we now so religious, holy than though people that we think not to have wine makes us more holy. If it’s good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough for me. I prefer hanging out with down to Christians vs the holier than part of the church.

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