My friend and I sat in swivel stools, watching the mustached bartender perform magic from behind the varnished wood counter. At his disposal were the expected items—limes and lemons, herbs, bitters, soda water—as well as more unusual ones: snow peas, eggs, a blow torch. At one point he lit a cigar, captured the smoke in a glass jar, mixed the smoke with an unknown liquid, and sieved the concoction over an ice sphere. The result tasted like what a humidor smells like: utterly delicious.

What was also delicious was our sense of Christian freedom. My friend and I had grown up in conservative Protestant families in which alcohol was either occasional (mine) or absent (his). My parents had seen alcohol abused in the military. His parents thought alcohol worldly and destructive. Being educated and culturally engaged believers, though, we had decided upon reaching adulthood that we were going to enjoy creation. Cheers to created goods! (Even ones that cost $14.)

But as we and other young Christians rush to show that we too can drink, dance, and swear—that our faith is much deeper than a list of behaviors—have we neglected to love our neighbors? Especially ones we won't find on Instagram or Twitter?

These are important questions at the center of this issue's cover package: D. L. Mayfield's personal story and Jennifer Woodruff Tait's essay on the teetotaling movement. Together, they suggest that abstaining from alcohol can be a way that Christians stand with the vulnerable and pursue shalom. Mayfield, who lives in an inner-city Midwest neighborhood, writes, "I didn't give up alcohol because I wanted to flee the evils of the world. I gave up alcohol as a way of engaging the ...

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June 2014

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