The story has a purpose you'll get toward the end, if you can't read it in the title. Read the story and be patient to get the point.
Think about a typical scenario with me. This isn't a thought experiment, because it is now the norm. You don't or won't need to experiment -- just think about it with me.
Mack professes to be a Christian. He grew up in a Christian home and was afforded almost every possible benefit and opportunity to be a good Christian.
(This is not a post about whether the Bible teaches if it's right or wrong to drink alcohol at all, but it is assuming that readers could at least agree that all drunkenness is sin. I believe it's wrong to drink any alcoholic beverage, but that's not my point here, so let's resume the story.)
Mack is faithful to all the services of his Bible-believing and practicing church because he doesn't have an alternative. His family and he attend church faithfully. Mack doesn't complain. It's his life. He's always there and really grows up in the church too.
(This is not a post about what kind of church people attend. It's not about whether it's consistent, harsh, authoritarian, loose, worldly, holy, or whatever. That might cross your mind here, but it's not what it's about. It is very possible that the kind of church in which someone is a member as he grows up will affect what I'm writing about; however, that's not my point.)
When Mack turns 18 he goes to college.
(This might be a Christian college or a secular college. Again, that's not the point of the post -- about whether someone is more likely to do something wrong if he attends whichever.)
At college, he grows weary of the arduous schedule and regulations. He doesn't like all the study. He isn't thrilled with all the teachers. He's around some people that are different than when he grew up. They think it's great to get drunk. The guys talk about it and laugh about it. (The authority may or may not know.) They ask him to drink with them, because it's so great and there are so many great drinks that will make him so happy and they'll have a better time together, if he does. He says no at first, for awhile even. It seems to Mack to affect his social life. He's got less friends. It seems to him that fewer guys like him very well and even that no one does. He decides he will participate.
Mack goes to his first drinking occasion with these acquaintances and friends. He drinks. They drink. They drink more. He thinks he'll stop, but he keeps going and keeps drinking. They all get drunk, including Mack. On the way back to their place of residence, everyone is drunk and the one driving is the least drunk. It isn't Mack. This is the first case of drunkenness for him and he's out of his mind. Mr. Least-Drunk drives home, and he weaves all over the road, driving drunk, and barely makes it back without crashing.
The next morning, Mack is sick. He throws up again and again, and has a gigantic headache. He goes to class, but he's definitely out of it physically and mentally. He tells himself that he doesn't want to do this again. The friends and acquaintances all talk about how great the night was. They brag to Mack about it, and brag on him, stating how great it was.
Truth be told, there were people who saw Mack and his friends and acquaintances, who were not drunk, who didn't drink at all, and they were disgusted with them. They were loud, obnoxious, and uncivil. Mack and the others couldn't even see it -- the slurred speech, the crazy laughter, with others a short fuse and temper, staggering, smell, foul language, and other symptoms of drunkenness. What they remembered was that they had a good time.
A little time passes and another occasion comes to go drink. They invite Mack again, and with a little pressure, he goes again with them, and they repeat the same behavior together. This time, however, a few people who know Mack, who know he is a Christian, call others who know him, who call others who know him, and it spreads to everyone at Mack's church, including his parents and the church leadership.
The next day, Mack has another headache and more vomiting, and more physical and mental disability, but with some coffee and time, it goes away. He's back to his right mind. He gets a call from his parents about the situation, and he denies it. He lies about it. His parents believe him. They are concerned and feel anxious, but they try to believe him. Sunday comes and everyone at church knows about it. There is even more information about even the first occasion of drunkenness. His parents now believe it is true that he was drunk. There are too many witnesses who couldn't be making this up.
Mack's parents know it's wrong to be drunk. They assume that Mack knows it's wrong to be drunk, but they don't want to come down too hard on Mack, because they're afraid he might turn on them, that he might decide he doesn't want to come back to church. They decide to take it easy. They'll include biblical aspects about drunkenness in future conversations and generally treat Mack the same, as if he never did it.
During this time, Mack shares some of his feelings with some other of his Christian friends, some who have been drunk and others who haven't, but who don't think it's right to confront others for such activity. They are all supportive of Mack. He is not going to lose their friendship for what he's done. They're going still be fine with it.
Mack's parents generally shield him from personal criticism. They know some people are talking, but they are not sure how many. They think that this has hurt their own Christian testimony and standing for ministry in the church. They are willing to suffer that, but they are afraid that if Mack is made to feel the same way, that he might not be willing to spend time with them. He might get discouraged and fall out in school. Worst case scenario, Mack might go off the deep end. They aren't sure how strong he is.
Mack has a twitter account. Sometimes he'll tweet his personal feelings. He also has facebook and will communicate some of how he feels on there. Lots of different followers and friends show their support with comments. Some are telling him not to worry about what people say. Some email him privately to tell him that his chief critics are all sinners too. Nobody is perfect. "Who are these people preaching against you, Mack? Do they think they do no wrong?" He agrees. And he figures that these angry and bitter -- they are the ones who are the haters in all this. He doesn't want the haters to get him down.
He starts writing about suffering in different ways, and how that he is taking in a lot of criticism and that it just doesn't seem Christian. He's received comfort and help from certain evangelical authors. He doesn't want to feel discouraged and he's trying to boost his feelings by thinking about forgiveness. He says that Jesus is with him and is helping him hold up in the midst of the shots people are taking at him. He thinks that, good for him, he's got these Christian friends who still accept him when he's down like a real Christian should. On the other hand, there are those that are judging him, trying to heap guilt upon him. He's just going to have to get through this, the pain of rejection from those who are looking down on him.
Mack has this sorted out. The people saying he's wrong -- they aren't his friends. Those supporting him, just telling him they'll be there, don't worry about his critics or those taking shots at him -- they are his friends. That's how this all works. A bad way to get over this is to hear about how bad you've been or that you've done wrong or to get around those kind of people who preach against what you've done, and just bring you down. A good way to get over this is to avoid those people and not return their calls or emails. After awhile, they'll give up. Just avoid them. Spend time with the affirming, the tolerant, the accepting. Enjoy church leaders who don't get too nosy, who aren't investigating or wondering -- just giving affirmation and kind words. Generally, it feels good to have behavior accepted and even if there is bad behavior, to have it ignored. Time heals all wounds. He'll get through this. He'll get over the rejection he feels from those who disapprove of what he's done. He's really grown through this, because now he knows how to get through times like these, when he's suffering. Now he knows what a real trial is.