Would you submit to moral, but non-biblical, lifestyle restrictions in your job?

A Christian university here in town recently put an end to a 68-year ban on staff drinking alcohol (although alcohol is still banned from campus and university-sponsored events). The staff alcohol policy follows a ban on student dancing that was dropped a few years ago. The school’s rationale was that the alcohol ban was not biblically defensible.

I remember similar debates about behavioral restrictions during my college years. I attended a Christian college with relatively few behavioral restrictions; the philosophy was to trust students and faculty to live biblically without the burden of school-mandated rules. But there are plenty of Christian schools and employers that apparently find behavioral restrictions to be helpful in promoting righteous living.

In fact, almost every employer has rules and behavioral expectations for employees. But restrictions like this alcohol ban feel different because they’re moral restrictions; and there’s an extra level of discomfort when such moral restrictions are not clearly endorsed by Scripture. They’re inspired by biblical ideals, perhaps, but they’re not actually taught in the Bible.

What do you think? Would you take a job with an employer that imposed non-biblical restrictions on your personal behavior? Is a restriction like this an instance of humans adding pointless laws to the gospel of grace? Or can you make a case that Christians should defer to well-intentioned restrictions like this out of concern for “weaker” brothers and sisters in Christ who might be led astray by seeing another Christian drinking (or smoking, or watching certain movies, etc.)?

What do you think?

12 Responses to “Would you submit to moral, but non-biblical, lifestyle restrictions in your job?”

  • I think a distinction needs to be made between unbiblical (opposes by the Bible) and non-biblical (neither endorsed nor denounced by the bible).

  • Laura Victoria says:

    I think the weaker brethren argument is often overused by those with a goal that they often confuse as being biblically mandated.

    How can an evangelist possibly think drinking is per se bad with a God who converted water into wine at a wedding party that sounds as if they’d already imbibed quite a bit? Most alcoholics I know live out in the real world and drinking by others doesn’t influence them. In any event, this seems to take the weaker brethren argument to the extreme of creating a phony, coddling environment.

    This is a strategy imposed on us by the left, those we usually oppose, in creating this nanny state through the “law.” The Lord did not seem to take well to overly legalistic practices, and hence I would not put up with this restraint on my liberty not imposed by conviction through the Holy Spirit. A more Christian policy would be to suggest that people should consider these possible feelings in how they behave. Then let them be or not be convicted.

  • Laura Victoria says:


    Just read your pithy comment, and I agree. I was confused originally by the title and these distinctions are critical.

    • Andy says:

      Hi Laura, I’m sorry about the confusion–I have updated the post as Dale suggested, and hopefully it’s more clear now.

  • @Laura… thanks. I agree about the weaker brother. Why the conservative Christian world gives the weaker brother so much power is beyond me. And then, in same said conservative world, many say they are “offended” by alcohol (or whatever) and don’t realize that only the weaker brother says this in Scripture. So many, in claiming to be mature by abstaining often admit they are weaker with their language. Not to mention that being “offended” by merely being uncomfortable is quite different than Paul’s use of “offense” which means falling into sin (usually unawares).

    In addition, what is often overlooked in these debates is the need for the stronger to mentor the weaker. And this is usually done in Scripture by modeling (“be followers of me as I am of the Messiah”)… so for every risk of “offending” a weaker brother is also an opportunity to show how to drink responsibly (or whatever the issue happens to be)… We cannot just say abstinence is the “safer” route. Wisdom is the safer route, but we have to grow up to learn how to use it. It’s riskier than just having pat answers, but God didn’t say life wouldn’t be risky, but only that he’ll be a loving companion along the way.

    The Psalmist said God created wine for a purpose: to make the heart glad. We have to contend with the larger Scripture (including the ones Laura pointed out) instead of merely pulling commendation of Scripture through the keyhole of only a few verses of warning.

    I’m not in favor or over-regulating moral and social behavior in church, school, business, govt as this limits a cultivation of virtue out of love. Regulations motivate people with fear. While sometimes this is necessary because people refuse to love and be loved, it is not the healthiest way forward. God’s laws speak into love being at the root and if love isn’t there, then at least the consequences of evil behavior will serve as a “schoolmaster” until someone becomes mature enough to act from love (the law becomes a spiritual discipline, etc)…

    • gene says:

      while i have a basic belief that a person is responsible to thereself, the bible clearly states do nothing which will cause a brother to stumble. hence drinking in the presence of an alcoholic would give him either pause, or licence to imbibe, whereby causing him to stumble. yes?

  • nathaniel says:

    Common sense for born-again,bible-believing saints:
    1. Smoking is a sin. It destroys the body(your temple) and physically hurts people around you. It is a harmful addiction. It should be banned.
    2. Movies that contain swearing, taking your Lord’s name in vain, toilet humor, any nudity(usually while promoting fornication), promoting the occult as something that is cool, etc…..should be banned-even if the movie gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. You should know better.
    3. Ingesting alcohol in itself is not a sin. Drunkenness is. It is comdemned repeatedly in scripture(check proverbs for starters) And since young people need guidance and a good example by mature Christians, drinking should be banned. If it keeps even one young person from straying, it is worth it.

    A person who is familiar with the word of God will, in my humble opinion, understand these things. The idea of these rules being enforced on a ‘Christian’ campus should be a ‘no-brainer’. That’s what I think!! Thanks

  • Rhonda says:

    If a job imposed non-biblical restrictions that were morale and right yes, I would uphold them. In scripture we see Paul and Peter just to time a couple who constantly reminded the people to remember God’s laws that should be practiced in their everyday lives.

    If a company said “no drinking”. I would consider the fact that the Bible tells us not to be drunk with wine. I would consider the tragedies that occur because of drunk drivers. I would consider the college students that are killed in relation to drinking at parties. I would consider those who have a drinking problem and don’t need to be around drinking. This imposed non-biblical rule reminds me that God’s commandments include “to love others as ourselves”. That God’s word in Matthew 7:12 let us know to treat others like we want to be treated. There are rules that meant to protect us. Unfortunately, we all don’t consider it might hurt someone else, we only think about what we want. If God had not considered us He would not have gave Jesus for us.

    When man rights rules there may be some who look for an exact replica in God’s Word. I would say consider the parables.

  • Madeline says:

    As far as the original question, I would submit to moral, but non-biblical mandates in a job as long as they weren’t un-biblical, as defined previously. Different environments require different rules.

    Here’s another take: in Timothy’s day, and in Jesus’ day, and for that matter in other countries, alcohol is treated very differently than it is here in the US. Alcohol seems to be just another drink. But here, it is associated with other very clearly worldly things. The first being drunkenness. I haven’t met Christians who drink who haven’t fallen to this or other morally compromising situations. And what has been happening is that then they don’t think drunkenness is bad.

    And doesn’t it damage our witness to the world? We are to be unpolluted by the world. But in the US, when Christians drink, we are considered “the same” and therefore, there’s no reason for anyone to want to be like us, because we are like them.

    I am really struggling with this issue. Every time a Christian I know drinks, it opens doors to other sins. And not even directly related sins. It’s almost weird. But honestly, it happens almost without fail. I don’t like being the only non drinker, but I haven’t seen yet where it is “beneficial” as Paul made the distinction between “permissable” and not beneficial things. It seems like drinking is not at all beneficial. By the way, I also have a friend who was “witnessing” to a college roommate and trying to relate to her by drinking with her. This Christian found herself drunk in her dorm one night, and decided it wasn’t worth it.

    • Kat says:

      I would also submit to the non-biblical rules an employer made. But I would not submit to anything I felt went against my beliefs.

      I actually feel really guilty about something. I had invited a friend to church…she declined because she was going to party the night before and didn’t want to come to church hung over. She said that would be disrespectful and wrong. So, I said “I guess getting drunk is only ok if you don’t go to church the next day?”

      I then apologized and asked for her forgiveness. As a Christian I have no right to judge. Jesus didn’t go around telling everyone that what they were doing was a sin and they were wrong. He showed them love and through his love they turned away from their sin. I don’t want to EVER seem like I am ok with drunkenness, but I don’t want to EVER judge someone and make them turn away from the church or God.

      We should focus more on ourselves. We are so concerned about other people’s sin. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we felt the same way about the sin in our own lives?