Alcohol in Bibb County: Jurisdiction of the State?

[Editor’s note: This article was written several weeks ago and is NOT reflective of the current legal status of this issue. The principles of the article, however, are still applicable.]

On page 1 of the March 11, 2015 issue of the Centreville Press, Lisa Lightsey reported on an action by the Alabama Supreme Court which is now, for the time being, prohibiting cities with between populations between one thousand and seven thousand persons from permitting sales of alcohol. This judgment went into effect on March 17, 2015.

Though this movement is on the level of the Alabama Supreme Court and therefore beyond the simple jurisdiction of the county, we may note several things here. First, this type of ruling is not the jurisdiction of the civil government. God nowhere grants the state in any way the right to limit sales on alcohol. (By “the state” I am referring to civil government, whether it is county-level or state-level.) While this is not technically a move on the part of the Alabama Supreme Court to outlaw sales of alcohol per se, the effect is that sales are being limited by one way or another. God clearly outlines for us in the Bible what is and is not under the jurisdiction of the state’s direction, and the sales of alcohol is nowhere mentioned negatively. Drunkenness is a sin, but the sale of alcohol is not immoral. It is a legitimate economic transaction.

Second, because of this ruling by the Court, there is a loss of legitimate income by business owners in the county. Lightsey reports the Centreville City Clerk as stating that within recent months, Centreville “has collected between $1,700 and $2,000 monthly in alcohol revenues.” West Blocton was predicted to lose about $1,000 in revenues. It may not be clear on the immediate surface, but this is a form of theft. Legitimate business undertakings are being curbed, by one means or another, with the effect that legitimate income and earnings are being lost. The state is intruding into business not its own, and indirectly sabotaging the productive business and earnings of others.

Third, by overturning the 2009 law which allowed local cities to conduct wet-dry referandums, the Alabama Supreme Court is inadvertently training citizens against being self-governing. This is the fundamental principle of government: the self-control and self-government of the individual man and woman. This means that true freedom is built not on legal direction from the state, but on individual men and women governing themselves with self-discipline before the Lord.

Our response must be in faithful prayer and action. We can contact those responsible for these rulings, but in addition, St. Paul commands us to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2). This means, in the words of R. J. Rushdoony, that “What we are commanded to pray for is their conversion, and that we be left alone, unmolested in Christ’s service.” Pray that God will convert our rulers, and that they will conform their laws to God’s Word—which means, that they will get out of the alcohol-legislating business! God’s Word is best for us. Let us listen to Him and obey.