The caller paused, and then said, "I saw in the paper that your getting a beer and wine license. If you serve beer and wine at your restaurant, we won't go there. And neither will Sue." She went on to say that as a Christian, I can't possibly sell beer. It's against Scripture. I told her to show me the Scripture, and I will follow it. She then said it had to do with causing a brother to stumble. Cause a brother to stumble? Does she not realize at all the torment that I'm now going through concerning this subject? If I make a bad business decision, will the business fail? What will happen to me and my family?
Up to that point, I had been at peace with the decision. This was business, right? And just like everyone else in the world, I have to support my family. But as much as I wanted to tell the caller to go ahead and just stay home, I knew I had to pray, examine the issue, and make sure that my decision was in line with God's purposes.
So I have been praying. I have also gone to my current pastor, and my old pastor, and a youth pastor, and an elder, and another youth pastor, ...and got as many thoughts on the subject as I could.
My Pastor agreed that it's not a legal issue as far as Scripture goes, but, he said all things that are legal aren't necessarily good and beneficial. He reminded me of the alcohol problem in this area.Then he asked me what my conscience says, because if it hurts my own personal conscience to stock alcohol and serve it, then it is a sin.
"The passage I was thinking about on Sunday is found in Romans 14:23, but you should read the whole context starting in verse 13. It doesn't specifically mention the word 'conscience' but the idea conveyed is very similar. I Corinthians 10:23-33 is a passage in a similar vein of thought that does mention conscience, but not the idea of anything done without faith is sin. The Corinthian passage also mentions the fact that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial or constructive."
Youth Pastor -
Briefly...Vickie and I talked about this together.
First off, I agree with the Pastor. There isn't necessarily a sin in serving a beer or glass of wine. Vickie has had to deal with this question too and has to do this at Pizza Hut all of the time. I also agree with the Pastor on the issue of your own conscience. Should you feel this is wrong but want to do a service for the community, you do wrong.
The threat of the woman who called isn't the real reason not to serve alcohol but she is the "weaker member" that Paul speaks of in Romans. Could your freedom in the Spirit end up being her stumbling block and ultimate fall into sin? If so, you sin when you cause her to sin. Her weak conscience makes her one that needs your aid in protecting her faith, at least that the way Paul seems to say it. Take a look at Romans 14.
When it comes to one of two older couples that like wine with a pasta special, well, given the limited choices of restaurants in your area, I will guess that you are more likely to keep their business than not. Let them buy wine at the grocery.
Now let me move on to what I think may be the bigger issue for you and your family.
Your lives have been substantially affected by the disease of alcohol. It has been a blight on Native peoples and still affects your younger ones that have struggled with FAS.
What your proposing is to order, store and distribute alcohol. Your children will be around the place day and night and sometimes when you aren't there. The lure of the spirits in those bottle is too strong and too powerful to leave around for those you care for....
"Thanks for your message and the candid way you portrayed your present situation. I truly sympathise with your dilemma and sense your struggle. I prayed that God would give you the insight you need and desire. But to make this short let me tell you that I basically agree with your Pastor friends and especially where this matter concerns the well being of your kids. This, I believe should be the deciding factor for your action your. May the Lord give you the wisdom you need do do the thing that is right"
My older Pastor and dear Mentor:
Greetings in the powerful and unchanging Name of Jesus! I had just mentioned yesterday that we had not heard from you for awhile - and there was your email. In praying and thinking about the restaurant concerns you mention, we sense that the advice given by Andy and his wife are the basics of what you need to consider in making a Godly assessment of the whole matter before you. Conscience, children, community, church - do that which fits with Scripture and being a true testimony for our Lord Jesus Christ. He will look after your business and the outreach in the area. Walk and talk humbly before the Lord and with the people, ...love the people, love your family, serve good meals (we wish we were closer so that we could have some), and rest in God's Promise to be your 'Jehovah Jireh'.
Remember: "God's Grace keeps Pace with the Problems we Face!" Give all your confusion and messed-up feelings to Him - He's able to carry you through every one of them, and give you wholeness in spirit, soul and body! Pray with your family in a positive way, thanking God for His Miracle working power in your lives EVERY DAY!! We are continuing to stand with you in love and prayer!
We're busy here in Mexico, and enjoying it. They have problems too, because we are people, "a work in progress"! ...God's Promise is that "underneath are His Everlasting Arms". He's strong enough to lift us, carry us, bless us, .... Hallelujah!!
and finally, the second youth pastor:
I'm not sure why I feel I need to get involved in this but I it aggravates me when Christians stick their noses where they don’t belong. Tell those who are against serving a glass of wine with a meal to go fight with Jesus about giving the already drunken people at a wedding more wine, which coincidentally he MADE out of water miraculously. Alcohol is not the enemy. The ENEMY is the enemy! I can not think of a restaurant that serves alcohol with meals, that is not a bar, where people go for the express purpose of getting drunk. They will go to a bar to do that. Besides that fact, you as owner of the store have the right to deny a customer service of alcohol. So where is the problem? Scripture speaks about drunkenness not drinking, and if your weaker brother or sister is so pious as to not eat somewhere because they have alcohol in the building, I hope she is ok with heaven being filled with wine, because I am pretty sure Jesus will be serving it at the feast. For pete’s sake, it was a part of the last supper!!! Grr. I hate it when Christians get so hot button oriented that they become completely useless for the gospel. If God wants you to run a restaurant, and provides for that, then you will have people coming to you, and that is your chance to reach them. So what if they have a glass of wine in their hand when you do it. Bah. I get so mad at hypocrites. Tell those Christians you aren’t allowed to talk to sinners, and walk away. You are called to the lost, not the spoiled brats who won’t get off their pew and fulfill their callings. Finally in closing, if I hadn’t said it enough…Grr.
Wow. Now here's the thing. I love my pastors and fully understand every point they are making. But my heart really and truly felt the same way as the second youth pastor in the very last letter. (he wasn't angry at the other pastor's. He hadn't seen their letters.) He clearly voiced the reaction I and my family are having.
But...does that mean I am right? This is why I am so torn up inside. I feel one way, but I respect my pastors and elders very much, and it could be that they, who all agree, are right and I am very wrong. It wouldn't be the first time.
Again, the last thing I want to do, in this economy, is make a mistake that will cost our family everything we have. Not serving alcohol could be a huge financial and business mistake. But serving alcohol, if it's not God's wish, could be a bigger mistake. The business could still fail, and worse, as Pastor pointed out, selling alcohol could send the wrong message to my kids, some of whom already struggle with alcohol. And not just my kids - are the pastors correct that it would a wrong witness to the community?
I'm struggling, double-minded on the issue. I hadn't been a week ago, prior to the phone call. Lord, in the name of Jesus, please show me clearly the steps that I am to take.