The United Methodist Social Principles state (BOD 162L) “We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons.”
With regards to the sale of alcohol it says: “We support the strict administration of laws regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol and controlled substances.”
Historically, the Methodist movement has been opposed to the use of alcohol and the United Methodist building located near the United States Capital was built years ago as a place where Methodists lobbied Congress for the cause of Prohibition due to the problems caused by alcohol use. In the past potential candidates for ministry in the Methodist Church were asked if they drank alcohol and those that said they did were not ordained. Today, we still believe that abstinence is a faithful witness despite the fact that we do not typically ask potential pastors about their use of alcohol.
Here are some important facts about alcohol abuse:
It is implicated in the incarceration of over half (56.6 percent) of all inmates in the America (Behind Bars II: Substance Abuse and America’s Prison Population, CASA Report, 2010)
Underage drinking in Pennsylvania costs $2.2 billion dollars annually, in Delaware $200 million dollars and in the state of Maryland it costs $1.3 billion dollars. The costs include needless homicides, suicides, traumatic injuries and accidents, burns, violence, property crime, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, lost wages, poisoning and treatments, prevention and social welfare. (http://www.udetc.org/UnderageDrinkingCosts.asp)
The total estimated economic cost of alcohol and other drug abuse in the US is more than $240 billion dollars annually. (The Lewin Group, a health policy research and management consulting firm)
This is a serious problem in our country today and also alcohol problems are found among our church members and our clergy. I have worked with a number of clergy in our area who are alcoholics and it has done great harm to their families and churches.
I urge laity and clergy not drink alcohol as a part of your witness. It is not healthy for your body, it is expensive, it can interfere with relationships and could possibly ruin your life if it becomes an addiction. Regularly teach the potential dangers of drinking to young people at your church. Teach by your example of abstinence. Invite them to take a pledge not to ever drink or use drugs. Allow Alcoholic and Narcotic Anonymous Groups to meet at your churches. Finally in the State of Pennsylvania there is a debate about privatization of liquor stores as a part of the budget consideration. If you live in Pennsylvania contact your legislator and urge them not to pass this bill. It will expand the number of outlets for the purchase of alcohol and no doubt cause more use and more misery in this world. As Christians we are called to be lights for the world. Expose the problems that alcohol often brings so that needless pain can be avoided.