I’ve heard it said in recent years that wine (I think it’s red) can be good for your heart.  Of course, I’ve heard that about chocolate, sex, watching “educational” television and a slew of other things that are really just rationalizations.  Let’s be honest.  Alcohol causes way more harm than good.  Often we just think it’s drinking and driving or abusive parents or wallowing in self-whatever with the bottle to drown out all your worries.  One might say that’s enough reason to avoid the poison.  Yet we allow for “social drinking,” whatever that is (please explain if you will!)  In fact, that’s the only allowance many make – Christian or not.  They agree that getting drunk or tipsy is not a good idea.  Now, I hang out with people more often than you think that drink.  And you might think that as a result, I judge them or don’t want to be around them.  I do my best not to and I think succeed more often than not.  I’m sad when they go too far (and it’s pretty easy to tell).  I’m extremely disappointed if kids are there or someone who is a known alcoholic is present.  And I’m certainly on guard for myself and others when folks might cross a line.  Too much alcohol in someone can make them unpredictable (shocker, I know).

I’m told folks can handle their own and know when they’re intoxicated.  I used to wonder how you knew when you were getting drunk, but honestly, I now understand.  Having taken over a dozen meds with close to 30 different concoctions in the past year, I can tell you first hand that I sense if a drug is working or not and what symptoms are resulting from it (I just spoke with my doctor this morning about my most recent one & the pharmacy is compounding a new one for me while I’m in Seattle).  One of the reasons why is because I’m a lightweight.  My doctor says so repeatedly.  I had to kick regular coffee out of my diet and go to straight decaf – really less of a big deal than I thought, but a tremendous result!  It is amazing how I can tell the effects of a drug.  But for those who say they can handle their own, I’m confused. You only know how much you can handle if you’ve gone over “what you can handle.”  I talk with my doctor about stopping meds if the symptoms are not effective, but it was because I went over what I should have – sometimes I had to stop even before talking with her.  I usually then pull way back and sometimes slow the dosage up again.  But with alcohol, do you know?  I mean, do you know with this new wine that you can handle 2 cups or three?  Call me naive, because I am – having never drank alcohol in my life, but 2+2 is not equalling four here.  And I’m willing to listen, I really am.

But have you ever cleaned up the urine or puke of someone who didn’t drink at a social gathering one weekend but the temptation of it threw them into a drunken tailspin the next?  Or seen a kid whose gateway to drugs was the rebellious sipping of alcohol when mom or dad wasn’t looking?  Or been part of a family who didn’t drink but were adult children of alcoholics?  Or had a friend who said they were just a “social drinker” but you and/or others didn’t know how to tell them they were an alcoholic and it continued to get worse?  Or had parents who drank and then stopped and your world changed?

That’s what happened to me.  My parents quit cold turkey (at least they did when I was around).  One week it was fetching my dad Meister Braus (yeah he was cheap and yeah I remember the spelling because I can see the can clear as a bell), the next it was gone!  My parents were mocked by peers who didn’t understand why they stopped.  They heard from friends that said my parents were judging them.  They weren’t invited to certain gatherings.  They were given the weird eye by folks who knew and folks who thought they knew but didn’t.  All because they didn’t drink!

Their decision made me swear to myself that I would never drink.  I saw the difference in my dad.  I wasn’t as scared anymore.  I longed to be part of a team that visited elementary schools with police officers in high school to tell kids that you can grow up and not drink.  And the people I went with were awesome.  We were committed to staying dry.  I was committed for life.  Yet I was saddened when they came back from college the next year. We got together and only alcohol was served – and we were only 18!

There’s something crazy about this drug that divides so many.  No matter who you are reading this, you’re on one side.  As a Christian and as a pastor, I know you’re supposed to use the Bible and argue that the proof of the wine in Jesus’ time was less and that we aren’t to get drunk according to certain epistles, yadayadayada.  You can google all about that.  There’s really no evidence to wine’s proof in Scripture and drunkenness is the only thing condemned, not any specific type.  You cannot say honestly that the Bible says not to drink alcohol.  My argument has never really been based on that.  It’s been more based on reason.  Experience.  Wisdom, I hope.  And I think (hope again) the Holy Spirit has intervened, but alcohol, even in moderation, just doesn’t add up to me.  I’ve said it and I’ll say it again: alcohol causes so much more bad than good.

Sure, soda is also not the best health-wise, but I haven’t heard of too many marriages ending because of soda drinking, or car accidents caused by the Pepsi, or children being beaten because of the Sprite, or puking and other uncontrollable bodily functions because of root beer (though, I take that back – there were those burping contests when I worked with kids – I did see quite a bit of yacking there), or friendships divided, or a prescription label that says do not combine this medicine with soda.  I’m not arguing for a beverage. I’m certainly not arguing for the prohibition. I’m arguing against a poison, home wrecker, murderer and more.

I think the pot is sufficiently stirred.

5 thoughts on “On Alcohol”

  1. Well, I would say the pot is indeed sufficiently stirred.

    My take (since I’ve heard you rant against alcohol for years, I’ve had plenty of time to think about my opinion…and I do stress opinion):
    As someone who has been drunk a few times (I was a freshman in high school, not really caring about or considering what God might say about this…), I do agree there’s a point of too much, but that you only know once you hit it. As you drink more, you build up a resistance, so that point comes more slowly, but you still don’t realize it until you’re there (I would guess tipsy would be the threshold for most people, but I would argue that tipsy already is drunk, just not as drunk).
    All the same, a glass of wine probably won’t make you drunk and you don’t even need to know what too much is in order to drink safely. You just make sure you drink in such a limited way that you never hit that too much mark. I think that may be what people mean by social drinking.
    For me, alcohol was definitely the beginning of what would have been an extremely destructive route if it weren’t for a cigarette (that’s another story for another time, I’m sure). And I have seen people and families wrecked because of it. I will personally never drink alcohol again beyond tasting whatever it is that someone else is insisting I take a sip of (this happens a lot in my family, where someone will get a new type of alcohol and insist I try it, I wouldn’t call anyone in my family an alcoholic, but it is still a little intimidating in those moments). It makes you into an idiot and causes you to do stupid things. Also, the temptation is so great for me to go too far with it. It’s scary how easily and quickly my mind loves the idea of drunkenness. It literally frightens me. As a freshman in high school, I would crave alcohol and couldn’t wait until I turned 21 so that I could drink whenever I wanted to. So I choose to avoid that edge at all costs.
    So those are my thoughts on the subject.

    (I’m also linking a series of blog posts a teacher at my school wrote on why we should drink alcohol, just to stir the pot a little more 🙂
    Part 1 – http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2011/12/27/wine/
    Part 2 – http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2011/12/30/beer/
    Part 3 – http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2011/12/31/cabernet-sauvignon/
    Part 4 – http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2012/01/03/odouls/
    Part 5 – http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/2012/01/04/belgium-triple-ale/

    1. Thanks, Heather. Your experience, some logic and knowing yourself seems to be your reasoning, somewhat similar to mine. After viewing your posts, I’m surprised the points I mentioned in regards to protecting others were taken so lightly in the articles. Sexahaulics Anonymous is real – people have a disease. Recovery from addictions is real. Alcoholism is a disease. I want to explore each article.

      But first, take for example the following statistics:

      Did you know that. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

      Between 2% and 3% of the current American college population will die from alcohol related causes.
      Thirty percent of college failure is alcohol related.
      Drinking and driving is the number one killer of Americans between the ages of 17-24.
      In the U.S., 70 people are killed daily in drunk driving accidents, that is roughly one person killed every 22 minutes.
      69% of all drownings are alcohol related.
      One in every three suicides involves alcohol.
      The average female college student spends $150.00 per year on alcohol.
      The average male college student spends $300.00 per year on alcohol.
      The average DUI arrest costs the charged person $3000.00.
      Alcohol plays a role in 50% of all arrests.
      90% of the vandalism that occurs on college campuses is a result of alcohol use.
      75% to 90% of campus rapes involve alcohol use.
      75% of men and 50% of women involved in sexual assaults had been drinking prior to the assault.
      The abuse of alcohol is present in 70% of all murders and other violent crimes.
      54% of alcoholics have an alcoholic parent.
      One out of 3 Americans don’t drink – and that’s okay too.

      Source: http://www.drug-rehabs.org/articles/278/About_Alcohol

      You’ll note that in my post that I mentioned drinking around a “known alcoholic” isn’t just dangerous, it’s cruel. I’ve had folks say in response to causing someone to fall, “I didn’t know it was that bad.” Now I’m somewhat realistic that alcohol,l is ingrained in our culture. Folks look at Sherry and I as if we have two heads when we say neither of us have ever drank. I’m sure that puts us in like the 0.5% of married couples in their thirties who haven’t drank. This being said, I think alcoholism has been elevated enough to let people know it is a serious problem.

      Your first post reads, “7. While the Bible condemns drunkenness and enslavement, it never says that the best way to not get drunk or enslaved to alcohol is to never drink.” I assume this guy is not an alcoholic and must not know any very well. This is the most absurd statement in regards to this subject and disturbing to the point of ignorance. Call me blunt or bipolar, but this is borderline spiritual abuse. For someone who says this as a Christian leader and an alcoholic reads it, it gives him a “go ahead.” You might think that they need to be more mature and not just drink milk spiritually (Hebrews 5:12-14). But not everyone is “strong enough” to handle such a statement. And I wouldn’t doubt that there are many who are more spiritually mature than me (and this author) whose thorn in the flesh is alcohol (1 Corinthians 12:7 ff.). The saddest part to me is that he argues this from “logic” (written twice in that paragraph). Now this author mentions briefly that further posts will discuss alcoholics. But with titles of “Beer,” “Cabernet,” “Odouls,” and “Belgium triple-ale,” I sense already the casual and edgy take on a scary topic.

      On the “beer link,” he addresses “ruining your testimony.” I gotta be honest. Drinking is an “in” to the secular world. Christians who don’t drink aren’t seen as prude as those who do. I think part of it, though, is that Christians don’t do it because they think (and in some cases, incorrectly) that the Bible says never drink. This author points out well that Scripture doesn’t do that – and even highlights it as part of blessing and celebration. I get that. Was alcoholism producing the same stats back then as those in our culture today? I can’t tell you that. But again, I repeat that my reason for not drinking is more logical given our cultural than Scriptural. We argue things out of Scripture like women in leadership & head coverings as “cultural” issues back then. Can’t we argue the same today as a “reverse” cultural issue. I would guess that given our culture and Paul’s bluntness, if he were to write another letter with the movement of God’s Spirit today, he would speak very strongly against alcohol. Folks can argue against me (and I’d welcome that debate), but think about it.

      I agree with his post on “cabernet.” I’m not an expert on the cultural relevancy then. On “O’Douls,” why that title? And again, I agree, if Christians can simply savor the gift of God at home and enjoy it, great! Many of those I know that drink, however, glorify the drink instead of the blessing from God that it can be. Is this possible? Yes, I believe it is. Do I condone it, no. He mentions pornagraphy, another potential addiction that you wouldn’t know necessarily that someone struggles with. In fact, porn is more secretive. It’s far more acceptable for someone to say, “I’m an alcoholic, can you not drink?” than it is for someone to say, “I’m a porn addict, can you put some more clothes on?” But I agree with his comparison there wholeheartedly.

      On the last post you referenced, his experience goes back to the history in Europe. I think my perspective is far more American than European. Notice I didn’t say Christian, per se. Certainly I argue that my faith and compassion for others has much to do with my reasoning, but I know Europe is an entirely different bird altogether. Is there as much drinking there? Probably more. As much alcoholism? Probably more. Is alcoholism as discussed as it is in the US? I don’t know. I am certainly ignorant. But again, any reference to Old Testmant, Reformation and more in regards to drinking is not part of my argument against someone in the here and now.

      I believe in eternal hope. I believe in hope today. We are already in the Kingdom of God yet not yet experiencing it fully. Will I drink alcohol in heaven. I imagine so. But there won’t be the potential sin attached to it for me or others as it is today. My wife won’t let me ride a motorcycle. Am I gonna ride one in heaven? You bet! Eternal LIFE & no death sounds pretty good to me. Not necessarily just taking risks to take risks, but to glorify God fully and enjoy His creation fully. I have hope in that today. And I have hope today for life in so many great ways. Bless you and I’d love to hear others pipe in.

      Wow, all this from a song called “Mess of Me.” There ain’t no drug that will make me well. And there’s a whole bunch that can mess me up. I’m certainly still a mess.

      1. And now I just read Proverbs 23:29-36. How poignant:
        Who has woe? Who has sorrow?

        Who has strife? Who has complaining?

        Who has wounds without cause?

        Who has redness of eyes?

        Those who tarry long over wine;

        those who go to try mixed wine.

        Do not look at wine when it is red,

        when it sparkles in the cup

        and goes down smoothly.

        In the end it bites like a serpent

        and stings like an adder.

        Your eyes will see strange things,

        and your heart utter perverse things.

        You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,

        like one who lies on the top of a mast.

        “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;

        they beat me, but I did not feel it.

        When shall I awake?

        I must have another drink.” (Proverbs 23:29-35 ESV)

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