The Wettest Dry Campus Around
The December issue of Christianity Today featured an article by Kevin P. Emmert titled “Relaxing Over Drinks.” The article focused on several Christian campuses that recently lifted their alcohol and tobacco ban. Now, if you’re anything like me you probably read that last sentence and thought, “Hey, we’re a Christian campus, why aren’t we lifting our ban, too?” Well, it’s not as fantastic as it sounds. As Emmert explains in his article, “…Moody Bible Institute lifted its alcohol and tobacco ban for its 600 full-time employees, following recent similar moves by Wheaton College, Huntington University, and Asbury Seminary.”
Yes, you read that right; the ban lift only affected the employees, not the students. The fact that prior to the change in its policy Moody’s own employees couldn’t drink made me wonder just how conservative its drinking policies were. What I found was remarkable. Moody has a 100 percent alcohol abstinence policy. That means students are prohibited from drinking “…both on and off campus when enrolled in course work, when living in Institute residence halls, when engaged in an Institute activity, when representing the Institute, or when intersecting with anyone affiliated with the Institute.” So, from the time you sign the papers up until the day you get your diploma, alcohol is completely forbidden. That’s even with the new, “relaxed” policy.
But here’s the thing, Moody Bible Institute isn’t the only school with an alcohol abstinence policy. The other schools lifting the alcohol ban for their employees –Wheaton College, Huntington University, and Asbury Seminary – have similar policies for their students. No alcohol. None. Nada.
All this goes to say that – comparatively – NCU looks like a party school. Sure, we can’t drink (or be drunk) on campus or at NCU events, but we at least have the freedom to drink (within the bounds of the law) off campus. NCU’s alcohol policy even seems liberal when you compare it to that of our sister school, Corban University, where if you drink at all you’re subject to expulsion.
So, why does all this matter? Why can’t we all just have grape juice with our communion crackers and be done with it? Well, because Christian attitudes toward the consumption of alcohol may not be as healthy as they could be.
Emmert writes, “Moody’s spokesperson Brian Regnerus said the [alcohol policy] change ‘came out of a desire in Moody’s leadership to reflect a high-trust environment that emphasizes values, not rules,’ and to ‘require no more and no less than what God’s Word requires.’” While scripture explicitly forbids drunkenness and warns against its dangers, there is no biblical prohibition against alcohol consumption in general. As Emmert reports, Peter Green of Wheaton College says, “the bible presents alcoholic drinks as an indicator and facilitator of human and divine relationships,” and “The Old Testament is unambiguous that wine and other alcoholic beverages are a blessings, and their absence is considered a curse.” By stigmatizing the consumption of alcohol, we not only mistreat a gift from God, but also do ourselves a disservice in the process by creating an irrational fear and an unnecessary temptation.
In its present form NCU’s alcohol policy is favorable, especially when compared to those of other Christian universities, but what is standing in the way of our school adopting a policy like that of our green and yellow neighbors at the University of Oregon? If students drink in accordance with the law and in a Christ-like and Christ-honoring way, what sin is committed? In a city like Eugene where the craft beer industry is thriving, perhaps a Christian university that embraces the benefits of alcohol can demonstrate how it can be a blessing from God instead of a means of simply getting drunk at parties.