Ask The UMC: May United Methodists drink alcohol?

More than a dozen former alcoholics and addicts carried signs telling how it felt to be in recovery during a presentation at the 2012 Oklahoma Annual Conference meeting in Tulsa. Photo by Boyce Bowdon
More than a dozen former alcoholics and addicts carried signs telling how it felt to be in recovery during a presentation at the 2012 Oklahoma Annual Conference meeting in Tulsa. Photo by Boyce Bowdon

May we? Yes. We do not prohibit our members from doing so responsibly “with deliberate and intentional restraint.” However, The United Methodist Church has long believed that abstinence from alcohol and other drugs witnesses to “God’s liberating and redeeming love” and is part of living the life God has prepared for us.

We start here. We start with abstinence as faithful witness and as norm for guiding our behavior.

But the question that matters most to us is not whether we personally choose to drink alcohol or not. It is how we love God and our neighbors who encounter the devastating effects alcohol often has on their own lives, the lives of those they love, and the wider societies in which we live.

That is why we pledge ourselves to be pro-active in addressing the issues that lead to and support the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. We are called to be involved in the effective and compassionate treatment of those affected by abuse or addiction. We don’t say, “Just say no.” Instead, we say yes to a calling to be in ministry with all people who may be adversely affected by the use or abuse of alcohol.

That is why we support educational and other prevention strategies to limit alcohol abuse, as well as public policy calling for “the strict administration of laws regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol.” 

That is why we advocate for appropriate and affordable treatment options for those affected by the use or abuse of alcohol, and in particular for persons whose abuse may be related to mental illness.

And that is why “we commit ourselves to assisting those who suffer from abuse or dependence, and their families, in finding freedom through Jesus Christ and in finding good opportunities for treatment, for ongoing counseling, and for reintegration into society.” 

May United Methodists drink alcohol? Yes. But it’s not enough to ask whether we drink alcohol or not. Ask us instead what we’re doing to show our love for God and every neighbor whom alcohol may adversely affect.

Street pastor with a past

Alcohol and Other Addictions, General Board of Church and Society

Official Statements

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This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.  First published May 23, 2018.

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