What should you ban from your life today?
Abraham Lincoln supposedly said “so you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war” to Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That is quite the claim from an acclaimed man, especially considering that Stowe was a woman during a time when women were not valued as highly as they are today. Harriet was and is no doubt worthy of much acclaim herself; however, her father, Lyman Beecher, might have her beat. Lyman, a Presbyterian minister, had his hand in many jars including dueling and the temperance movement. Lyman’s persistent pursuit of holiness encourages us to examine how we can move closer to God today.
July 11, 1804 was the infamous day of the Hamilton-Burr duel, a duel gone wrong (or perhaps right, depending on which politician you preferred) for Hamilton. For some, dueling was all business, matter-of-fact enough to not be often acknowledged. For some Christians, dueling was to be condemned and it was high time someone did something about it. One of those someone’s was Lyman Beecher. In his 40-page sermon entitled The Remedy for Dueling, he outright denounces dueling writing “the elevation of duelists to power, is an act directly opposed to the precepts of religion” and “the duelist is a murderer.” Beecher spoke out against any politicians that were ok with dueling. There seemed to be no rows dividing what Beecher preached to the pews and spoke to the masses. He was an all or nothing kind-of guy.
“Drinking’s not bad. Jesus’ 1st miracle turned water into wine.” Perhaps you’ve heard this reasoning thrown out when the morals of drinking are being discussed. I agree with both statements and think that more than most Christians would also agree; however, this was not the case in the early 20th century and none other than our man, Lyman Beecher, was on the front lines advocating for abstinence. Alcoholism had taken its toll, breaking up families as it ravaged on. Both Christian and non-Christian households saw merit in abstaining from alcohol. Eventually, local advocating had evolved into a national movement. The 18th Amendment in 1920 banned the production, transportation, and sale of alcohol for 13 years until it was repealed. 13 years alcohol production, transportation, and purchases were banned right here in our United States! So what?
The so what is simple. Everything that’s permissible is not beneficial. Christ calls us to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ. The gospel is come as you are, not stay as you are. To think that we do not have to give up any habits of our former way of living prior to knowing Christ is unbiblical and ignorant. And yet I forget it everyday. Why else do I need brothers and sisters in Christ to call out my crap, so that I might ask God to forgive me of what I told him that I would surrender wholly unto Him. What is your dueling? Is it having one too many drinks because that’s what everyone else is doing? Is it nursing a grudge against someone that’s legitimately wronged you? Perhaps it’s neither of those, but I bet there is something you have not turned over the keys to that will move you one step closer to your Father in heaven who went through hell because he loved you. Let us take one step closer to God today.