By Maci Shingleton
The forum, created as a chance for students to ask questions about Trevecca’s alcohol policy, was hosted as way to create an open dialogue about faith and drinking.
Around 50 students squeezed into the CLCS Fireside Room to participate in the discussion.
The Church of the Nazarene Manuel, a guidebook for members of the church, states that “…our position is abstinence rather than moderation.” Students at Trevecca sign a lifestyle agreement upon enrollment that includes a prohibition on drinking, even after the student is the legal age to drink.
But, as Trevecca’s student body has diversified, for instance 47 percent of students identify as Nazarene while the other 53 percent identify with another denomination or religion, questions about how Christians should handle social drinking are unavoidable.
Trevecca President Dan Boone is aware of this and wanted to create a forum to discuss the issue with students.
Boone was joined for the discussion by Fr. Mike McGhee, assistant rector of St. John’s Anglican Church in Franklin.
McGhee said he believes social drinking once a person is 21-years-old is acceptable, if in moderation.
Boone said people should abstain from drinking in aim to love your neighbor. Boone chooses not to drink in consideration for those who struggle with or have been hurt by the effects of alcohol and is therefore putting his neighbor before himself, he said.
When asked for a raise of hands, half of the students in attendance claimed to be 21-years-old or older and over a quarter of the group claimed to come from families where drinking is normal.
The diverse views on alcohol held by the students in attendance created meaningful topics of discussion. Students asked several questions about the use of alcohol.
Boone and McGhee tackled questions like:
· “Why do we get in trouble for drinking off campus with our family?”
· “How is alcoholism any worse than gluttony?”
· “Is it O.K. to hang out with people who are drinking if you don’t drink with them?”
When asked questions, Boone said there is no scripture in the Bible that states drinking alcohol is wrong but challenged the reasons students may think it’s okay.
“Anytime my ethics become about me and what I want to do, they are no longer Christian ethics,” said Boone.
Students said they appreciated the chance to discuss it.
“I think President Boone knows what he’s talking about, came well prepared, and vocalized his point. It was a great discussion and questions were answered, but I still wonder about the judicial process,” said Zach Farnum, a junior communications major who participated in the discussion.
Students who are caught drinking while students face a process that can lead to consequences such as academic probation, mandatory counseling, and if the student is an athlete, bench time.
Boone said he is not familiar with how specific cases are handled, but that the judicial process is created to help students, not shame them.
Boone said he has no problem with students who choose to drink once they have graduated but ultimately believes the issue of students drinking as undergrads is not so much an issue of alcohol but an issue of honesty. After students sign a lifestyle agreement, it is up to them to show integrity by keeping their word.
“You have to respect the community you have joined. It’s maybe not so much about the alcohol choice but how true are you to your word?” said Boone.
McGhee said he does prefer a dry campus and agrees that while students are at Trevecca they should honor the commitment they made to abstain from alcohol. However, McGhee humorously said when answering a lengthy question that he would love to sit down and finish the discussion over a drink after graduation.
“Too often Christianity is about what we don’t do. It should be about us loving what God loves,” said McGhee.
Students at the forum requested more discussions on other topics including sexuality and cussing.