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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.

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 into the life God has prepared for us.

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

So this question is not the one that matters most to us. The question that matters most to us is how we love 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.

We do not simply call for prohibition or limit our approach to our own personal choices. Rather, we pledge ourselves to be proactive in addressing issues that lead to 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 are called to be in ministry with all people who may be adversely affected by the abuse of alcohol.

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That is why we support education 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 also is why we advocate for affordable treatment options for those affected by the 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 can 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.

Learn more: Alcohol and Other Addictions, General Board of Church and Society

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