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Alcohol

As an evangelical Christian community of disciples and scholars, Azusa Pacific University seeks to model Christ-like behavior regarding the responsible and legal use of alcohol. We seek to cultivate a community in which members exercise freedom, responsibility, and discretion in responsiveness to the Holy Spirit. This is demonstrated by all members of the Board of Trustees, administration, faculty, staff, and students aligning their actions and behaviors with university policies on alcohol. This identity statement reflects APU’s commitment to creating a God-honoring environment that is safe and healthy for all community members.

Biblical Foundations

  1. Scripture makes clear that Christianity at its core is about loving God foremost and loving other people as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40); it is not primarily about bodily habits of behavior. The apostle Paul explains that the kingdom of God is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” rather than “eating and drinking” (Romans 14:17). Only within the framework of fulfilling the law of love can the biblical warnings and instructions about drinking alcohol be rightly understood and applied. (See Romans 13:10, “Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.”)
  2. Since believers find comfort and joy in the Holy Spirit, they do not take refuge in spirits of strong drink. The apostle Paul says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
  3. Unambiguously, the Bible condemns drunkenness. The prophet Isaiah, echoing the wisdom tradition, explains that drunkenness causes moral blindness (Isaiah 5:11-12; Proverbs 20:1). In the New Testament, drunkenness is associated with debauchery and deeds that oppose the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21; I Peter 4:3).
  4. According to Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians, it is unacceptable to tolerate drunkenness in the Christian community. He exhorts members of the body of Christ “not to associate” with “any so-called” believer if he or she is an unrepentant drunkard (I Corinthians 5:11).
  5. The apostle Paul explains that “nothing is unclean in itself” (Romans 14:14). The psalmist praises God for creation, acknowledging wine as a gift that gladdens the heart (Psalm 104:15). In keeping with the praise of the psalmist, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11).
  6. According to Paul, it was “for freedom that Christ set us free” (Galatians 5:1). Believers are free, therefore, either to choose abstinence or moderation in accordance with their liberty in Christ.
  7. The apostle Paul says that while it is wrong for believers to judge one another for drinking or not drinking (Romans 14:3-4), it is likewise wrong to put a “stumbling block” in another believer’s way (Romans 14:13). Explicitly, he says, “If because of food [or drink] your brother [or sister] is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love” (Romans 14:15). We are to be concerned for the welfare of others and not merely for our own personal interests (Philippians 2:4).
  8. Each believer is compelled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and personal love for God to sanctify Christ as Lord in his or her heart (I Peter 3:15) and to live the rest of the time on earth no longer for the lusts of humanity, but for the will of God (I Peter 4:2).

In summary, the university acknowledges that biblical teaching, church history, and data showing the dangers of alcohol abuse provide sound foundations for clear community standards related to alcohol. Therefore, the university has established specific policies, which can be found in the faculty, staff, and student handbooks. Any deviation from these policies presents an opportunity for grace, repentance, and redemption in accordance with the university’s commitment to honor one another and glorify God.

Note: Scripture in the biblical foundations section on alcohol were adapted from the New American Standard Version. Expediency here prohibits a more thorough articulation of the way that biblical truth leads to these stated conclusions. Certainly, the Bible is to be read in context and handled accurately and responsibly. Thus, it is important to clarify from the beginning that citing the references throughout this document is meant not as proof-texting, but rather as an indicator that the theological grounding for the Azusa Pacific University Identity Statements is ultimately rooted in Scripture.