Christians Who Drink Beer3 January 2010
Historians will look back on the years 2000-20 someday and call it the Second Age of Muscular Christianity. Quote me on it. Let me unpack at least one aspect of this phenomenon: beer-drinking Christian men.
A decade ago a seminarian explained to me how there are three types of PKs (pastors’ kids) in the world: PK-A, the obedient child, PK-B, the outright rebellious child, and PK-C, the child who knows how to be rebellious but chooses to live mostly (mostly) within the bounds of the PK-A lifestyle, that is, Christians Who Drink Beer. For him the mark of cultural engagement and anti-legalistic assertion involved whether or not one went to the pub. The coincidence is almost too uncanny: the same rule is now applying to the other PKs, Promise Keepers.
Now in 2010 the pattern seems to true, especially for Protestant men. Former “nice boys” and Promise Keepers attendees, they now look to buck the restraint associated with Victorian morality and fundamentalistic codes. The new Muscular Christians are showing their rough side… by throwing down a couple of cold ones. Preferably stouts. For instance, hipster pastor Mark Driscoll writes in Radical Reformission how light beer is a sin – a claim that could be taken figuratively until one considers that he helps to sponsor a brewing club at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Meanwhile, John Eldredge, a light beer hater himself, encourages men to disregard legalistic conventions and follow their wild heart (or stomach?). Attempts to follow this injunction in the beer department have led to some funny results.
Not that Muscular Christians encourage drunkenness. They do not. Rather, a more regal form of hold-your-liquor masculinity applies here. Don’t drink too much. And no matter how much beer you imbibe, don’t let it compromise your self-will. Remember, we’re PK-Cs here.
One final example. A friend who works for Campus Crusade in Utah tells me that drinking beer has become a standard way for Evangelical men to distinguish themselves from the Mormons. The teetotalling LDS guys don’t dare assert themselves that way, and pretty much have the squeaky-clean masculine archetype all tied up. Which leaves wide open a handy, malty lacuna for Protestants.
Being set apart has never been such a happy ordeal.