Sunday, October 01, 2006

Christians and Pubs

WARNING - this post may say more about me than it does about anything else. If you're a Christian, think about it and if you disagree with me, work out why and say so. If you're not a Christian, feel free to read on with an interested curiosity...

I can understand people who aren't Christians going to pubs. I can understand wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, to unwind and relax, to lose a few inhibitions, to have a good time, maybe meet someone nice, etc. I don't have a problem with that - I think that for many people (but not neccesarily everyone) it's a sensible thing to do. Of course, I think it's far better if those people realise that actually Jesus is the only one who can really satisfy them, but that's a different matter.

I can understand Christians going to pubs too, if they're going with non-Christians or they want to meet non-Christians there or something. If you're spending time with people, it's usually fine to go where they go. Pubs are often a decent place to talk. There's nothing inherently wrong with them. If Jesus was in 21st century England the way he was in 1st century Israel, then I'm pretty sure he'd go to pubs. That's cool, I don't have a problem with it.

And when Christians go to pubs, I can understand them having a few drinks. Sure, alcohol was part of God's creation - the Bible says some good things about it. Not about getting drunk, but there's nothing wrong with a drink or two. Unless you're a recovering alcoholic, or you're trying to support a recovering alcholic, or you find it really hard to cope in pubs or something, when it's probably a bad idea to go.

What I can't really understand is one specific situation, which seems quite common, in England at least. That's Christians going to the pub with other Christians, not to meet people who aren't Christians or anything.

I've been trying to understand that, and here are some possible reasons I've come up with:

  • It's a good place to sit and chat. Well, maybe it is. But there are lots of other places that are much better. Coffee shops, for example. Or ice cream cafes. Or people's houses. (Kudos to the person who suggested I organise a trip to one of the local ice cream cafes here!)
  • It's easier to get to know people after a few drinks. Well, not really. Sure, drinks can relax inhibitions, which means you can talk more freely about stuff you'd usually have issues with. So I guess maybe pubs could be useful in counselling people or something. But normally, if we've got inhibitions which make it more difficult for us to get on with other Christians, then that's a problem, and we should be sorting it out. We shouldn't need alcohol to get over it.
  • It's just harmless fun. Quite possibly. I honestly can't see how Christians enjoy pubs more than coffee shops (for example). If this is you, care to explain?

What's worse, all too often over the years, I've seen Christians drink too much in pubs and act in ways that don't especially point out to people how amazing Jesus is. We shouldn't need to escape from our lives - if our lives are that bad, then we should focus more on God and how amazing he is.


Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. I can see where you're coming from, although I don't necessarily think that there's anything inherently wrong with all-Christian groups going to the pub. I think that 'it's a good place to sit and chat' is actually a good argument - of an evening, pubs may be the only public place you can do this, and some of us aren't students who can just sit around in coffee shops all day. ;) Also, it's neutral territory, so that can have some advantages.

Personally, I'm not the world's biggest fan of pubs. Or, more specifically, I don't like noisy, smokey, crowded environments with people acting in particular ways cos they're drunk. But I'll happily sit in a pub if it's a bit quieter, and easier to breathe, and have a conversation.

I'm not sure that socialising should have an 'agenda'. Yes, one can think, 'I really ought to be more open and spend more time getting to know new people, and get out of my cosy circle of friends'. But I don't think there's actually any harm in spending time with friends (Christian or non-Christian) sometimes just for the sake of it. To enjoy their company, sustain relationships, and enjoy the blessing that they are in your life. And going for a drink and a chat can be a way of doing that.

One thing that you haven't mentioned - that all-Christian groups in pubs could be a good thing. Firstly, it demonstrates that when one becomes a Christian it's not necessary to say goodbye to having friends and forgo any kind of social life. Secondly, what about setting a 'good example'? That one can have a night in the pub and enjoy a good time and good company without getting drunk? I wonder if sometimes people behave in certain ways in certain environments just cos they think it's expected. Isn't living a Christian life all about demonstrating alternatives?

Darty said...

"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. - 1.cor 6:12

hmm, not sure if I was allowed to post something, as I pretty much agree with You!

Well, about going to pubs, just to show good example to non-christians? (aha, is this story similar to christian getting married with non-christian, hoping that the other one will get saved? dare to dream...sometimes dreams comes true,sometimes they don`t).

I wouldn`t suggest to compromise with that...(there is one example: imagen one person standing on the chair, and one standing on the ground...have You ever tried to pull someone up on the chair? what do You think- would it be easier for You to pull someone up, or You to be pulled down?...)

Oh, and I don`t think that meeting up in coffie shop is ton of`s kinda plain there (young people and artists might understand WHY)...but that doesn`t mean I choose pubs.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think it's comparable with a Christian marrying a non-Christian. The latter is something that is going to affect every aspect of your life and your ongoing expression of your faith. Going to a pub with Christians or non-Christians isn't going to suddenly make you behave in an inappropriate way - only if you're looking for an excuse to do so, in which case it isn't a good environment for you.

Nor am I advocating going to pubs specifically to set a good example - some kind of holier-than-thou taskforce perhaps? What I was trying to say is that I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with going to the pub to meet friends if other locations aren't suitable, and when there, one should conduct oneself in a Christian manner.

John said...

Inclined to agree with HJ.

"if other locations aren't suitable" - but often the pub seems the first choice!

Phillip Fayers said...

A group of us often end up at a local pub after church on Sunday.

We go for a number of reasons; its quite a nice pub (not noisy or smokey), people in the group are young and so don't have space at home to invite in the number of people who often gather, it is a witness (the staff know we are church members, even to the point of coming over to ask for help with their children's RE homework), its close to church and where people live, its open on a Sunday night. But, most of all, we go because we want to, its a group of youngish (typically under 40) people for whom going to a pub to socialise is completely normal.

It has been extremely beneficial to our group and friendships have been made and strengthened as a result of meeting and talking in the pub.

lottie said...

I am inclined to agree with that last comment. I go (or used to go when I was at home) to the pub quite frequently (at least once a week) with either christians or non-christians, or a mixture. and whilst I do see your point, I didnt have any problem with this.

Young people tend to spend a lot of time in pubs and bars (and there is a clear distinction between the two) and so it is a natural place to migrate to, somewhere we tend to feel comfortable and at ease.

I would quite often meet up with a particular christian friend at a particular pub merely because it was conveniently located for both of us, it was friendly and a quite place to talk, it cost considerably less than the average coffee shop, and it is open during the evening.

Going to the pub doesnt necessarily mean 'drinking' either, I usually dont drink (alcohol) at the pub, mainly because I would be driving home, and I enjoy myself on J2O's or whatever.

If you are going specifically to get wasted with another christian, or if you know you might be tempted to, then yes I can see a serious problem with that. But just as a nice place to be and spend time with people then thats fine, in my eyes at least!

Susan A said...

i should point out that ice cream cafes, coffee shops, and people's homes can also lead people into sin and inappropriate behaviour, and lack of alcohol does not necessarily promote godliness... we are fallen people living in a fallen world... i went down that road and became an ascetic, but God has given us pleasures in this world and he has called us both to be set apart from it and to engage with it as we find it. i enjoy going to pubs with my christian friends, but i also enjoy drinking coffee with them. we need to live more as who we are and not try to make artificial distinctions all the time.

Darty said...

everyone is right for themselves!

It`s nothing about the building as such, called PUB, it`s what You do there what matters...

Darty said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Thanks folks - you're helping me to think more clearly on this....

I agree that some pubs are nice, and I enjoy going to them at least as much as to coffee shops and stuff. The Ashley would be one such example known to several of the people who've commented here.

I guess my issue was with a few pubs I'd been to more recently with Christians.

Darty said...

You`re welcome!
Five Lats from You.....