Notes From the Pastor’s Study- October 13, 2020

Early voting starts today in Young County. Here is a copy of the sample ballot. As Christians we know it is important to be good citizens. Part of good citizenship in a representative democracy is fulfilling your obligation to vote. I generally steer clear of political controversy. However, there is a proposition on the ballot this year that overlaps with my oversight as a pastor of a local church. I would like to speak to it to those under my care.

This year you will have an opportunity to vote on whether you want liquor stores and bars to be allowed in Olney. You read that correctly. If this measure passes there are already several people who have expressed an interest in putting a liquor store in our town. As a pastor who has seen the negative effects of alcohol abuse in the lives of many people, I wanted to speak to this one issue, because I believe bringing bars and liquor stores into Olney will negatively affect our community.

Several months ago I remember that a man spent several days sitting under a tree at the old Robert’s Flowerland location. On Facebook he had asked people on to come by and sign a petition that would allow him to get a measure on the ballot, that if passed, would allow him to sell alcoholic drinks at a restaurant he planned on opening. Frankly, I did not think that sounded like all that big of a deal. However, I later found out that the measure he put on the ballot will allow for bars and liquor stores to operate in Olney. Out of the 10 options he could have chosen, he chose the most extreme ballot measure. It allows for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages in liquor stores and bars. It is certainly his right to put that on the ballot, but it is our decision as to whether we want it in Olney.

I think there is a misconception that a vote for “City of Olney Proposition A” is just a vote to help a man have a successful restaurant in Olney. That is not what wound up on the ballot. What is on the ballot is a vote to bring in the full alcohol culture to our beloved town. We already have a significant drug problem. Do we really want ready and unlimited access to the #1 abused drug in rural America? I don’t think we have the resources in Olney to deal with the increased problems that bringing in full-measure alcohol sales will cause.

I personally think this is not good for Olney and I will be voting no. You are free to disagree with me. I will still love you. I hope you will still love me. A vote on City of Olney Proposition A is not a test of fellowship in our body. Each of us has to make a decision, and I will not attempt to bind your conscience one way or another. I’m simply using this platform to inform you of the facts and to give you my opinion on the matter as an individual and as your pastor. I acknowledge that believers can come to a different conclusion than I have reached on this issue.

The Bible speaks of alcohol over 200 times. Sometimes it speaks of alcohol as a blessing, but it also speaks strong warnings against abusing it. There is a non-abusive way that alcohol can be consumed. It is not a sin to drink alcohol. After all, we know Jesus drank wine and he never sinned. However, the overwhelming way alcohol is consumed and celebrated in America is not in line with how Bible contemplates its proper use.

All sorts of arguments can be made on this issue, and let’s face it: it’s a very controversial topic, even within the church. I struggle in writing this post because I try not to stir up controversy on disputable matters. Yet, pastorally, I feel compelled to speak on behalf of the many who might needlessly struggle and have their lives ruined by easier access to alcohol. I feel compelled to stand up for the children affected by alcohol abuse who don’t have a platform or a website or a way to send you message. It is true that we are all responsible for our own actions, but we should always look out for those who might stumble or struggle more than others. We should also be concerned for the welfare of our city and its most vulnerable residents, which include scores of individuals who come here to the House of Mercy seeking a refuge from such temptation. As you arrive at your position on this, please also consider how others might be affected by the passage of this measure.

Brother Chad