Boozing and playing on a Sunday – the disappointing witness of Ireland rugby star Jacob Stockdale

Standards in the professing church have unquestionably dropped, and indeed have done significantly, in the past number of decades.

Be it the dress adopted by those attending church, the worldly pursuits of professing Christians or even the lowering in the regard for and fear of God, there can really be little argument that the separation between the world and the professing church has greatly diminished.

And to that end, it was with disappointment we read of the comments from Ireland rugby star Jacob Stockdale from an interview in the Presbyterian Herald, some of which was reproduced in the Belfast Telegraph.

Not only was the interview published just after he had played in a Six Nations match against Italy on the Lord’s Day, he also spoke of how he joins his team mates as they get their boozy nights out up and running, even joining in on the consumption of stupefying alcohol.

Further to that, he articulated his opposition to the Scriptural position of separation from sin.

We reaffirm our disappointment with his comments, which is all the more disappointing given the prominent position Jacob Stockdale occupies and the tremendous influence for good he could be were he to take a firm stand.

Rugby is Jacob Stockdale’s occupation and for him to have taken the field last Sunday is a clear breach of the Fourth Commandment.

This is outlined in Exodus 20:8-11, which says: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

There are those who sadly believe today that the Ten Commandments no longer apply, yet this runs contrary to the teaching of Jesus.

Such people quite often use the following passage to justify ignoring the Ten Commandments.

Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Of course, even this passage clearly demonstrates that such a contention is nonsense, as the closing verse says that those two commandments encapsulate the Ten Commandments.

But we are told in Luke that these two commandments which many modern Christians seem to think are the only rules to govern their lives are “written in the law” and therefore clearly these two commandments are a summary of the Ten Commandments.

Luke 10:25-28 says: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

That being the case, it is clear that the Fourth Commandment is still very much applicable.

Jacob Stockdale’s decision, sadly, stands in stark contrast to that of former Scotland rugby player Euan Murray, who came to the realisation that playing on a Sunday was wrong, saying he didn’t believe in “pick ‘n’ mix Christianity”.

In an interview from 2009, Euan Murray said: “It’s basically all or nothing, following Jesus. I don’t believe in pick ‘n’ mix Christianity. I believe the Bible is the word of God, so who am I to ignore something from it?

“I might as well tear out that page then keep tearing out pages as and when it suits me. If I started out like that there would soon be nothing left.”

The views of Euan Murray are absolutely commendable and we would certainly encourage Jacob Stockdale to follow his lead. It is surely highly probable Euan Murray would be happy to advise Jacob Stockdale on the matter.

And the other truly disheartening aspect of this interview given to the Presbyterian Herald was his discussion of his drinking with his team mates, outlining his rejection of separation from sin.

Jacob Stockdale said he is a “firm believer that you can’t completely detach yourself from that culture because it makes it hard to socialise, to interact with your team-mates”.

He continued: “At the end of the day, the guys that I play with are my really close friends, whether they’re Christians or not.

“When you have team socials where there is a lot of drinking involved, you have to balance it; go, maybe have a few drinks but know when to stop drinking and be smart about it in that sense.

“I think it’s detrimental not to go to team socials and to distance yourself from your teammates and colleagues – at the end of the day you’re here to be an evangelist and separating yourself from others doesn’t help.”

Sadly, Jacob Stockdale thinks it is permissible to join in on the worldly activities of his ungodly teammates and it is “detrimental” to be separated from sin.

James 4:4 reminds us that this is a very wrong position to adopt. It says: “… know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

The attitude of Jacob Stockdale is actually putting him at “enmity with God”.

What a sad situation that is.

The perils of alcohol consumption are so clearly and wisely summed up by Solomon.

He says, under the inspiration of God, in Proverbs 23:29-35: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”

What a folly it is to join in on such a worldly action. We would urge Jacob Stockdale to reconsider his approach to such matters.

It is also sad that the Presbyterian Herald is advertising Jacob Stockdale and his witness as commendable to its readers and to its members

Jacob Stockdale is a major figure, and is considered among the very finest players in the entire world, something which makes him a role model to many young Christians and aspiring rugby players.

The Presbyterian Church should be playing no part in promoting working on a Sunday and joining with the world in its ungodly activities.

According to the report, Jacob Stockdale is linked with the “Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church”, which would appear to be located in Dromore, County Down.

This church should be taking a stand against the actions and comments of Jacob Stockdale, but it does not appear that is the case.

Sadly, this is an example of the decline in the stand of the professing church in Ulster.

The story of Jacob Stockdale, whose rugby exploits will matter not one jot in eternity, will sadly be one of missed opportunity if he continues to forget the sabbath day to keep it holy and indulge in imbibing alcohol so as to fit in with his ungodly teammates.

We urge Jacob Stockdale, in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour, to “consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5) and take what would prove to be a mighty stand for God.

Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

‘New Wine’, any wine will do – attendees at ‘Christian’ conference encouraged to have a booze up

Proverbs 23:29-35: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”

1 John 2:15-16: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

Indulgence in alcohol is quite clearly a favoured pursuit of the world and a precursor to many of the vilest and most shameful sins committed by men, (and women!).

However, the ‘New Wine’ Conference, the ungodly ecumenical nature of which we began to expose last week, is actively encouraging those in attendance to go for a boozy lunch during the conference!

Indeed, on the New Wine Conference’s own website they have said a “typical day” at the conference includes a trip to the pub!

Under that heading of ‘A Typical Day’, on their website it reads: “With the two morning sessions over, you can pick up lunch in one of the cafes on site, or head into Sligo and try one of the many cafes, restaurants or pubs.”

What a dreadful witness for these so-called Christians to be giving to the world at large. Indeed, what a dreadful witness for the leaders of this conference, which include lead organiser Rev David McClay (pictured, below) to be encouraging their followers and supporters to engage in such activity.

As our first Bible passage shows, the consequences of such self-indulgence are grave – there is woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, wounds without cause and redness of eyes.

Alcohol causes misery, folly, arguments and injury, leaving an individual insensitive to the world around them and lowering their inhibitions.

Yet the ‘New Wine’ Conference is encouraging attendees to make their way to the pub in the middle of the day at a conference where they are supposed to be exalting Christ.

Instead they are encouraging attendees to go into the world to fulfil the lust of the flesh and of the eyes, which is “not of the father, but of the world”.

This conduct is at complete variance with the orders laid down by God to “be not conformed to this world”, which loves and glamorises alcohol, an addictive drug. Instead, if we are Christians, we ought to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” which comes from Christ.

Romans 12:1-3 says: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Note that our bodies are to be a living sacrifice, not tanked up with a poisonous drug which corrodes our organs, debauches our behaviour and, if you are a Christian, ultimately ruins our testimony.

Believers are also instructed “to think soberly”. How can we think soberly if we are not sober?

A great many evil things are recounted in the Bible by individuals who have allowed their blood to get up as a result of alcohol consumption.

King Ahasuerus allowed himself to be carried away with booze and tried to make a show of his beautiful wife, Vashti, in front of the many dignitaries present at his grand feast.

Esther 1:10-12 says: “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on. But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.”

The heart of the king was “merry with wine” and he wanted to make an exhibition of his wife. She refused, not impressed with the drunken exhibition her husband wanted to make of her which would have caused other men to lust after her. At this point, the man who was “merry with wine” suddenly changed his mood to anger, such is the inconstancy of the person filling themselves with alcohol.

The consumption of alcohol corrupts and, as we have said before, leaves people insensitive. Look at the vile behaviour of the two daughters of Lot, who plied their father with alcohol and then committed grave sin with him.

Genesis 19:31-38: “And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.”

Not only was the corruption in the action itself bad enough, but this was compounded by such evil actions, made possible by alcohol, leading to the creation of two nations who would be at enmity with God’s people in the centuries to come.

The consequences of such drunken depravity lasted so much longer than one night, or two nights, in this instance, God’s people were suffering as a result for centuries afterwards.

However, such warnings from Scripture appear to matter little to the organisers of this New Wine Conference as they encourage their followers to be part of the world.

Hosea 4:11: “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.”

Proverbs 21:17: “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.”

Jude 1:23: “…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”