Rocks Can't Swim


I can't swim. And that's not saying that I can't swim well. It means that when in a body of water, I will continue to sink until whatever ungodly depths lie below stop me. It's kind of like gravity. You can jump and jump or I can thrash and thrash; but inevitably, Newton always wins.

People tell me the simple trick is to hold your breath, and the buoyancy of that air in your lungs will keep you above the water. Maybe that works for some people, but I think I'm just too fat for physics. If I believed in reincarnation, I would be concerned that an iceberg didn't sink the Titanic--my being on it did.

There are a lot of things I can't do. I know this because I've tried them. I can't play hacky sack. Tried. And failed. I also can't dunk. Tried. And failed. And fell. Newton sucks. And apparently I'm very unimpressive physically. But I would have never known whether I could do these things unless I had given them a shot. I suppose I could've left well enough alone and never done the things that I never do now anyway. At least, that's how some people operate.

photo credit: LucyJClarke via photopin cc
Evangelical church culture hasn't progressed much during the last couple decades. Even after the 21st Amendment repealed the Prohibition, the church has continued its campaign against evil ethanol.

Eighty years later, the rest of world--even the rest of the church--has accepted alcohol as a normal part of social life. And while wine has always retained a moderate respect by evangelicals as being high class, even beer has begun to shake its ballpark stigma thanks to the efforts of passionate craft brewers. Culture has changed, and beer isn't just for alcoholics anymore; it's for people who appreciate complex flavors and food pairings. Still, no matter what, evangelicals will always ask the wrong question, "Can I drink alcohol?"

You might be surprised, but I won't answer that with a sarcastic "yes." In fact, I refuse to answer the wrong question at all. The right question should be, "Why can't I drink alcohol?" You see, there's a subtle but unmistakable negativity to asking, "Can I?" It assumes from the start that an argument needs to be made for the imbibing of spirits.

Good luck with that. That's like saying that we need an argument for automobiles, electricity, or running water. And if you're trying to make a case using the biblical prooftext approach, I hope you don't mind outhouses. Oh wait, those aren't in the Bible either… better get a shovel.

When asking, "Why can't I," you're simply weighing the evidence against a particular activity. Some of it could be biblical (e.g. the numerous passages that warn against drinking too much) or personal (e.g. coming from a long line of alcoholics and diabetics). And like many socially acceptable activities today, you're probably not going to find outright condemnation from either one. Instead, you'll discover propensities and learn prudence.

It's a set of ethics that some might call the trial and error method. Indeed, you're more likely to accidentally get drunk by drinking than by not drinking. But people tend to learn more from their mistakes than their successes. And I don't recall Jesus commending the servant that buried his master's money in the ground. To be fair, I'm not suggesting that one treat alcohol as harmlessly as trying to swim. I just like knowing whether or not I'm going to drown.

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