I need to confess I had a very drunken summer. I spent a lot of time hanging out with drunks. Every summer we try to reconnect with old friends that our busy schedule of the rest of the year doesn’t allow. We make a point of getting together with old friends that we have not seen for a while. This year some of them we hadn’t seen in years or even decades. And as much as I loved catching up with old times there was one thing that every gathering seemed to have in common… an extraordinary amount of boozing. For someone like myself who has been busy with church work for many years it was almost shocking to see how much people drink. And after they have had a few, or a few too many, they start cussing and swearing and telling dirty jokes. At times I wondered if they guys (and gals) were really lawyers, salesmen and accountants or if they were in fact actually pirates.
As the evenings wore on some of our old friends got stupider and stupider, at which point we excused ourselves and went home. For the record we don’t drink at all. Not even an occasional glass of wine. It is not so much for biblical seasons. I am quite certain that Jesus would have drank wine as I am pretty sure that Welch’s grape juice was not yet available for the Last Supper. With the lack of refrigeration and often poor water supplies in biblical times, fermenting grape juice into wine was a practical solution for storage. The bible does not condemn ‘drinking’, but ‘drunkenness’. And make no mistake about it, it is not a casual warning but very stern prohibition put in the same category as murder. …murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:21)
The warnings abound in scripture because it is so easy to abuse alcohol. At what point have we gone too far? If one drink is fine, how about 2? or 3? or 4? Where is the line? ‘Sipping saints’ always tell me they know where the line is for them. To which I always ask, “Ya, how did you find out?”
For me it is not really a biblical debate but a cultural one. Our culture has a serious drinking problem. Way too many people drink way too much. It is as if you cannot get together socially these days without copious amount of liquor to lubricate the event. When did people lose the ability to socialize without getting hammered?
My grandfather was an alcoholic and started drinking at noon on workdays. My father did not consider himself one because he didn’t start till 5 PM. But then he made up for lost time. Thirty years ago I looked that the damage alcohol does to our world and decided I was giving it up for good. It ruins marriages, families, relationships and health, is the cause of many accidents and most vehicle deaths. I personally fail to see any good reason to drink and therefore I don’t. We hear all this nonsense about the health benefits of drinking wine but rarely do we hear that it only takes 2-3 drinks daily to lead to life threatening liver disease. I have watched people die from liver disease and let me tell you it is a wretched, painful and inglorious way to die. Especially when you contrast it with the way the liquor industry glamorizes drinking.
Young, good-looking, happy men and women with great bodies and perfect teeth—stretched out in their bathing suits on the beach, or relaxing in their after-work clothes at a local tavern. No matter the setting, the message is always the same—these people know how to have a good time! Who wouldn’t want their lives to be like this? It is an appealing image, one that marketing experts have honed into an extremely seductive message. All you need to do is drink our beer (or wine, or liquor or cooler) and this could be you with your extraordinarily attractive friends leading the ‘good life’!
How come they never use this girl in the beer ads?
Or this guy?
Or these two winners?
And hey, who wouldn’t want to party with this bunch?
And my personal favorite – this guy? Everything about this picture screams ‘the good life’ right?
Ok, I will admit it. I am on a personal crusade to discourage drinking amongst christian people. If there ever was any virtue in drinking alcohol it has lost its meaning a long time ago. Our culture has fallen off a cliff in the use of mind altering substances and as christians I don’t think we can jusifty participating. Would I welcome back a 1930’s style prohibition. Never! You cannot legislate behaviour. It needs to grew out of a personal conviction to honor and please God with our lives. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit after all. I like the way Peter put it;
… no longer live the rest of time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. (1 Peter 4:2-3)
We have “spent enough time” indeed, let’s start living for the will of God.